Homeland Recap: Brody's SMS SOS

Brody's blackberry won him the battle, but his tape could lose him the war

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson and Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison appear in Homeland (season 2, episode 2).
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All season long, Greg Otto and Tierney Sneed will be recapping Showtime's Homeland, and discuss what they're hoping to see in the rest of the season.

(Ed. Note: Spoilers ahead. Do not read if you want to let the story unfold for yourself.)

Greg: Vindication! Did you sit there, pumping your fist, saying "Yes!" to yourself as Saul discovered the hidden tape? Was that just me? It can't be, because for any viewer, there has to be a sense of relief (for the time being) in knowing Brody's actions will not go unaccounted for, and Carrie will (hopefully sooner than later) learn that she wasn't wrong all along. It's heartwrenching to see Carrie reveal her own personal self-doubt in the wake of her CIA dismissal, but at least we now know she won't go through the rest of her days questioning herself over her premonitions about Brody. Then again, Saul has yet to tell Carrie, so maybe there is twist coming that will drive us nuts. I wouldn't put it past this show.

Tierney: Yes! Major fist pump with the hidden tape! That was such a great twist at the end — especially considering the lengths that Carrie went to get that bag. As cray-cray as she is, she has almost a sixth sense about these things. I've seen some critics say that Homeland depends too much on "luck" or "coincidence" to further the narrative. What are the chances that video is in that bag Carrie grabs, and that Saul finds the disk before getting rid of the bag? Furthermore, what are the chances that Brody is visiting the Pentagon just as the raid was going down? I think this "luck" criticism is a silly one. So many good stories involve some sort of "luck" factor, and if Homeland's strength was only in its plot, then I would find that frustrating. But the show has done a fantastic job giving its characters — even the secondary ones — incredible depth, enough that I can forgive the show for being a little reliant on "what are the odds?" developments.

But first, when did Brody get that direct line to Nazir? I can name several times in the first season that Brody would have wanted to use it (remember in the tunnel with Walker how desperate Brody was to finally speak with Nazir directly?). What about when Roya came to his office in the last episode? Wouldn't that whole exchange warrant a text to Abu? Are we supposed to believe that he got it in between this episode and the last? Or that this is the first time he would need to use it (or at least we would need to see him use it)?

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Greg: I don't think it's luck as much as it is clever writing, and the points you bring up are things that have to be addressed as the season progresses. If Fatima Ali's husband knows Nazir, is it really that big a stretch to think the video would make its way to Beirut? Even the best shows take a creative leap every once in a while (looking at you, Season 5 of the The Wire), but I don't think the convenience of the two scenes you mention is enough for a viewer to go: "Wait, really?"

However, this episode wasn't without its questions. Referring to Brody's warning text: Isn't there a way of knowing a text was sent from inside The Pentagon to a foreign country? Isn't it similar to the way you can track an IP address, or am I showing a vast display of cyber security ignorance?

And speaking of cyber security, a CIA director and a team overseeing a black-ops mission is depending solely on Skype for classified mission orders? That can't be the way it truly happens. I can't see President Obama launching a raid to kill the most wanted terrorist in the world using the same program I use to voice chat with my dad about the Phillies missing the playoffs.

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Tierney: There were definitely some holes, but because the show is so good with both its plot and its character development, I'm willing to overlook them. In terms of character, one thing I realized this week is what an absolute coward Estes is, specifically after he couldn't make the call to go forward with raid and left it up to Saul. Something I totally forgot which the brilliant Rich Juzwiak pointed out last week was that Estes and Carrie had had an affair before the show picks up, but you wouldn't know it by how coldly he treats her. Contrast that with Saul (who also had a weird, sexually charged moment with Carrie last season) and how loyal and kind he is to Carrie — trusting her judgement on the raid, and then, even when Nazir isn't killed, giving her the credit she deserves for giving the right read of her asset. Saul's uncovering the tape makes the vindication all the more sweet—he should be the first to see Carrie redeemed.