Tierney: I'm glad to see that Homeland has stepped away from the ledge of the completely absurd, and is chilling comfortably on the summit of the entertainingly hyperbolic. There was some major twists in this episode, but they played on the questions we have had all season long (Who is this Quinn guy and why is in involved?), rather than throwing us answers to questions we never asked (what would Abu Nazir look like without facial hair?). Thus, I wasn't turned off by the craziness of it all as I was last week.
"Two Hats" played on the tension of what we know versus what the characters know. It was somewhat gratifying in the beginning to know what happened to Brody while our agents wondered if he was dead. We were soon put back into the dark upon Brody's return and his account of his meeting with Nazir. Was he telling the truth? So much of the rest of the episode depended on whether the viewer, as well as the characters, could place our trust in Brody. I imagine that fan reaction to this episode will fall both ways. But enough with these big picture ruminations, let's get into the weeds:
What is the deal with David Estes?
Greg: It's clear that Estes has no respect for anyone in the operation and is answering to someone who pulls strings from higher above. While he is completely unlikable at this point, I can understand Estes's motive, because he's been front row to the circus surrounding this terrorist attack. Would you trust these people to fully complete this mission when one is in love with a key player, and the others seemingly follow her will without any reproach? Looking at it from a different angle, are the ones wielding power going to be okay with a U.S. congressman who is on record (remember, that suicide tape still exists) saying Walden should suffer for his past war crimes? The whole sordid plot is an embarrassment for Homeland's CIA, so it makes sense that Estes is, at the very least, in the loop on those who are planning to do some secret "damage control."
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Tierney: That's fair, but I think Estes might be digging his own grave, as I think the news van bomb plot was a trap. I paid close attention to what was shown to us in the Brody flashback, versus what Brody told the agents. The flashback showed us Brody and Nazir praying together, something Brody left out in his account (Brody has already told Carrie he was Muslim, so it wasn't a detail he needed to hide if he was being honest about everything else). It never showed us Nazir discussing his plan with Brody, so we don't know whether he was lying about that as well.
Another question I had was about the date Roya and Estes supposedly went on early in the season. Once it was revealed that she was a large player, you would think Estes would have to acknowledge it. Then again, it's pretty clear that Estes is operating under his own agenda, separate from Carrie's and Saul's. Still, knowing Homeland, I think that is a stone bound to be turned before the season is over.
On the Brody-family plotline, the safe house enclave allowed Jess and Mike to play out the parallel universe of what life would be like had Brody never come back from Afghanistan—a life Dana suggested explicitly in her hissy fit in front of Mike.