Monday, October 8, 2012

'Homeland' Review - 2.02 Beirut Is Back

        On the newest episode of Showtime's Homeland, Carrie becomes involved in an operation that may rid the world of Abu Nazir once and for all, against the advice of her family; and Mike questions the nature of the events around the shooting of Elizabeth Gaines.

        Tonight, Homeland aired a very tense second episode that proved why this show won Best Drama Series at this year's Emmys. The hour was wall-to-wall action with a few glimpses into the worlds of Jessica and Mike that effectively excited the viewers and culminated in a griping final scene where Saul discovers the video card of Brody from last year's finale.
        For weeks now, the press and the show's writers have been teasing a monumental twist that happens at the end of the second episode. It turns out that that big reveal is even juicier and more exciting now than it was ever hyped up to be. Plus the fact that the show is tossing out a major plot changer in episode two just further proves that this is going to be one fantastic season. Sure if you want to completely overanalyze and say it was too much of a plot contrivance for Carrie to pick up that one bag that doesn't even belong to Nazir and it just so happens to have the video in it, I could buy that argument. However, as soon as Saul say that video I didn't care because it was this series doing what it does best - major twists with perfect reactions from its strong cast of characters.
        But let's back up a bit because there was still 45 other minutes of drama before that twist occurred. The episode was dominated by the intel Carrie received that Abu Nazir had a meeting in person in the city. The ensuing action and tension wrought by whether or not Carrie's judgment could be trusted or to put American soldiers' lives on the line was beautifully executed. The sequence where the three groups of people just sitting watching to see how the mission goes is wonderfully tense even though it's just people sitting around watching screens. This sequence is tricky balance to pull off as we primarily see things through both Carrie and Brody's opposing point-of-views and yet we care enough about each of them as characters that we can't wait to see which one will emerge victorious this time.
        The episode then pulls out a fantastic action sequence of Carrie trying to get more intel out of an apartment while being chased. I will say that it was a bit murky on why exactly the people there were attacking her though. Did there just want to charge at any kind of American operative? If so, then why wouldn't the mob outside have done more damage to Saul and the car? Again, I'm possibly reading to far into things since it was a fantastic episode. But I sometimes have to look at the nitty-gritty stuff in order to find anything wrong when a show like this produces quite an exceptional episode.
        The show unfortunately has a bit of a problem with the Mike character. He has the potential to be vital to the series but has nevertheless come across as mostly a waste of time. He was introduced in the rather one-note subplot of having an affair with Jess. After that secret was out, he was rendered useless to the rest of season one. After skipping out the premiere last week, he returns here as a seeker of information from Brody for the rest of his marine buddies. The aspect of Brody's fellow soldiers who he served with and their reactions to the series' events can prove to be wonderful but it feels a bit strenuous to just add that story now.
        To conclude, there were just some phenomenal pieces of acting in this episode especially the scenes where Saul has to decide whether or not to do the mission, Brody's look of desperation after he talks to the journalist, Carrie's hyperventilating when listening to Saul's call to Estes, and finally Carrie's speech to Saul about trusting the her of several years ago.

So what did everyone think of the episode? How will Saul's newfound knowledge change the series? Need to see Episode 3 now? Share your thoughts in the comments.