Episode Title: "In Memoriam"
Writer: Chip Johannessen
Director: Jeremy Podeswa
Previously on "Homeland":
At it’s core, “Homeland” has always been about two very broken individuals: Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). Both of them are uniquely dysfunctional and yet they are inexorably drawn together. The problem is that no matter how much they might hope for a happy ending, they can’t fix each other. Even now, they’re still clinging to that belief.
“Homeland” season two has delivered some amazing “big moments” like Brody’s confession to Carrie and the show has faltered with some of the smaller moments, including Dana (Morgan Saylor) and Finn’s (Timothée Chalamet) hit and run story. "In Memoriam" was an episode that seemed to get both aspects right, despite a little extra melodrama from Dana.
Full spoilers ahead for “In Memoriam” aka “The Motherf***er with a Turban.” If you’re not caught up with “Homeland,” don’t read this review or Dana will throw another gallon of milk on the floor.
The biggest turn in this episode is that Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) is dead and with him, most of the show’s reason to exist. Nazir was “Homeland’s” Osama Bin Laden and it was Carrie’s primary goal to capture or kill him before and after she learned the truth about Brody. But when the moment finally came, Carrie seemed more numb than elated. As if she didn’t know what to do now that she had succeeded.
Meanwhile, Brody mystified his family when he broke down in tears when told about Nazir’s death. On some level, Brody may have hated what Nazir did to him and what he nearly did on Nazir’s behalf. But Brody’s love for Nazir and Nazir’s son was genuine. Even earlier this season, Brody could have let the U.S. special forces assassinate an unsuspecting Nazir. However, Brody choose to save this man who had reshaped him into a suicide bomber.
Of course, Brody’s family had no way of knowing this and he eventually fakes a happier reaction to meet their expectations. Brody can be an exceptional liar, but that was one of his least convincing performances. Damian Lewis brought some terrific subtle gestures which suggested how hard Brody was trying to hide his emotions in that scene.
Lewis and Morena Baccarin also delivered one of the season’s strongest scenes when Brody and Jessica finally acknowledged the end of their marriage while talking in the car. The end of their relationship actually happened much earlier in the episode when Brody stops talking to his wife to take a call from Carrie and tell her how much she means to him. Jessica may not have heard exactly what Brody said to Carrie, but she got the jist of it. Prior to that point, Brody still had a chance to save his marriage and his family. However, he had already chosen Carrie above them.
The end of Brody’s marriage seemed like a natural progression for the series. Both Jessica and the kids seemed much happier around Mike (Diego Klattenhoff)... and who could blame them? At least Mike knows how to emotionally relate to them. Although that doesn’t excuse Dana’s incredibly on-the-nose triade about Mike being a better father figure than Brody.
In the fallout from the hit and run, Morgan Saylor has been given harder scenes to pull off that didn’t always work. I didn’t think that Dana’s meltdown was a particularly good performance from Saylor, but she is at least believable as a teenage drama queen.
During their farewell in the car, Jessica gives Brody her tacit permission to be with Carrie and he doesn’t waste much time following her advice. By now, Carrie and Brody really do seem to be crazy (in all senses) about each other, as Carrie even helps cover up Brody’s role in the death of Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan). Think about that for a second: Carrie is literally withholding information on a successful terrorist plot to murder the second most powerful man in the country just so she can be with Brody. That may be love, but’s not sane.
Carrie’s hunt for Nazir earlier in the episode had its share of tense moments, especially after Carrie’s return to the factory hours later. When Nazir was finally found, it was apparent that this was the end of his story. That’s the only way to predict what will happen on “Homeland” now: just assume that the logical turn in the story will come more quickly than you would ordinarily expect.
The “Homeland” creative team deliberately took out one of the main suspense mechanisms of the season, leaving us with the threat on Brody’s life to play out in the season finale. That’s decidedly a much smaller scale than the previous season finale and even most of the episodes this season.
It could also be the right call to reduce the events of next Sunday’s season finale to a more personal scale, but we’ll have to withhold judgement on that for now. It is a little strange that with Nazir out of the way, David Estes (David Harewood) and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) are the defacto antagonists because they are the ones standing in the way of Carrie’s hoped for future with Brody. Although the moment that really pissed me off with Estes was how low key (and insincere?) his congratulations to Carrie seemed. If nothing else, that should have earned Carrie her place at the CIA once again.
Instead, Estes is trying to blackball Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) out of the CIA for getting in the way of his plan to assassinate Brody. It’s a testament to Patinkin’s acting skills that we get the sense that he’d like to strangle someone while he’s sitting in a chair with only a minimal amount of facial movement.
Of the three lead characters, Saul is probably the least broken. Saul’s problem is that he cares too much. He cares for Carrie, he cares about his job and he even cared about the terrorist, Aileen Morgan (Marin Ireland). In his attempt to force Saul out, Estes even has the nerve to suggest that Saul intentionally slipped Aileen his glasses so she could kill herself.
With Saul potentially out the door and Brody’s survival in question, it’s almost impossible to predict where “Homeland” will go in its third season. But I enjoy not knowing everything about a story ahead of time. And as soon as this show gets completely predictable, it won’t be “Homeland” any longer.