After the one-two punch of the last two episodes, this week’s "Homeland" marked a slower period, a chance for the audience to get used to the simmering status quo. It was one of the messier, stranger episodes of the season, as the writers worked dozens of loose plot threads back into the show.
The lifeblood of "Homeland" is the relationship between Carrie and Brody, in all its twisted, mangled glory. This week gave them a little breathing room from the intensity of last week, but the closing shot was Carrie weeping in Brody’s arms.
Apparently Brody did indeed give up Roya’s name during the interrogation, because she’s the CIA’s main target, but to Carrie’s frustration, the audio team can’t seem to get a bead on her.
She speaks to a man in sunglasses next to a fountain, where the sound of rushing water drowns out their conversation. When Carrie sends Brody in to try to tease out the man's identity from Roya, the audio gets cut again -- perhaps due to incompetence, perhaps on purpose by a man wielding a cellphone standing nearby.
The CIA is combing through the tailor’s house in Gettysburg, and Roya says that "they might" find something there. What the CIA finds is an assault team, a group of armed soldiers who take out seven agents and remove a suspicious-looking trunk from the wall. Quinn, shot in the stomach and left for dead, might be the only one who can actually say what it was.
This level of sudden violence is unusual for "Homeland." Even last season’s bombing had more of a buildup. It seems like a scene from "24," but for the usual layers of intrigue.
Why did Brody wait so long to tell the CIA that the tailor was dead? Did he know about the trap he was helping to set? Or was he the architect of the plot in the first place? What in that box is so damaging that Abu Nazir would risk opening fire on a group of agents on their own turf? What purpose could that assault have in Nazir’s ongoing schemes?
Then, there’s Dana, whose conscience won’t allow her to ignore the woman Finn hit with his car. Dana goes to the hospital, tugged by uncertain motives and hopes, only to find the woman dying, her grieving daughter by her side. Like her father, Dana now has a grudge to nurse against the Waldens. And, like his father, Finn seems more concerned with covering his own ass than acknowledging the damage he caused. Sure, a hit-and-run is no secret drone strike on an elementary school, but the parallels in their attitudes are unmistakable. What Dana will do with that information is unclear, but it will surely figure into the rest of the season.
As will the lingering hug that Carrie accepts from Brody after she confronts him about the Gettysburg attack. Both Carrie and Brody know how to play each other -- the scene in the car, in which Brody rebuffs Carrie’s hand on his shoulder aptly illustrates how familiar he is with her tricks.
But in spite of that, there are feelings there. Watching the silent war between tactics and emotions is at the core of "Homeland": It’s what prevents the show from flying off into convoluted action-movie antics. This week’s episode may have gone a little too far in that "Die Hard" direction, but it’s Carrie, as always, who saves the day.