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."
More Homeland Coverage From U.S. News
The one-stop shop for superfans
11/19: Soap Opera Spies
11/12: We're All Out in the Open
11/05: The Battle of Gettysburg
10/29: New Spy, New Lies
10/08: Brody's SMS SOS
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.
Greg: It's becoming very clear that no matter what path Brody chooses, he is neglecting his family in the process. We can all feel bad for Brody at times, but as we discussed in prior recaps, he is fully responsible for his own actions, and those actions have consequences. Nothing about Brody has given the family a sense of safety or normalcy, so, naturally, Mike is going to pick up the pieces and take the whole family under his wing (or under the covers).
I think that dinner date from earlier this season will be part of the big reveal before this season wraps up. This show tends to throw shade on things to make viewers believe they don't matter, only to have it be a fundamental plot foil (think last season's Yorkshire Gold). I think it could be very possible Roya Hammad has been working for our side all along, and Estes/Walden/Dar Adul are up to something far more secretive than Carrie, Saul and The Gang have been led to believe.
Tierney: Now that would be a twist and a half. But back to the family scene, I loved the 'what if' situation. It was ironic that Dana was decrying Brody coming back, because as terrible as the whole my-dad-is-a-terrorist situation is, she has matured so much from it, becoming the moral idealist of the show (remember the pot-smoking, school-skipper of season 1?). Furthermore, Mike demonstrated what kind of father he would have been—affectionate and caring, but also tough and disciplined when the moment called for it. I also liked the Season 1/Season 2 parallel of Dana being handed the phone to talk to her father before he goes through with the big mission, except this time she won't talk to him.
Two small notes from this episode:
1. The English major in me would like to tease out the meaning of Quinn/John owning Great Expectations. This is obviously an aspirational allusion for the show, as Dickens was the master of twisting and turning plots with hidden motives and surprise characters. But I think Great Expectations specifically ties in with this episode "Two Hats," specifically with both dealing with double identities. Dickens's Pip is a poor boy who ends up with a rich inheritance, his benefactor starts out as convict who child Pip helps. "Two Hats" refers to specifically to the "two hats" Estes says Quinn is wearing (though "FBI liason" actually means "Brody assassin"), but many of the characters wear two hats, too: Brody is a terrorist and a CIA agent, Carrie is a spy who needs Brody operationally and a woman who loves him, etc.
2. Where are Virgil's and Max's loyalties? They were first brought in by Carrie to run her own side surveillance of Brody in Season 1, and Saul has now used them for some extracurricular spying on Quinn—but now that it's clear that there at least two different missions going on under the roof of that bunker, I am curious where they fall in the hierarchy and why Estes is so willing to trust them with the CIA-freelance work as well.
Greg: I would think under normal circumstances, Virgil and Max never would have been allowed to operate in the command center of a CIA operation. I think Estes is too wrapped up in his secret side project to care about credentials. As long as Carrie vouches for them, they are good. I think it's complete fantasy to believe a CIA operation of this magnitude would operate on this level, but I'm not responsible for writing the show to fit the CIA's chain of command.
Overall, I'm glad we have moved away from our romantic subplots and back to the intrigue of who is tiptoeing the lines between good and evil. The show thrives when we are left on the edge of our seats, contemplating all of the ways the myriad of characters could be good, bad or a mix of both. We are starting to see signs that this season's big reveal will further muck up the already gray world Homeland operates in, which is exactly what this show has always been about.