|"Let the beard-off begin."|
I've said it before and I'll keep saying it until I'm blue in the face, when this show puts two characters with opposing views together and allows them to hash at it, it can be truly breathe-taking. This hour had many of those sequences that really allowed each character to shine as well as acting required from each of the people involved. Saul and Dar Abal; Carrie and Abu Nazir; Brody and Walden; and Saul and Estes - these were the great high points of character work in this episode. Each scene had a very nice confrontation between the two characters and allowed each one of them to breathe and plead their viewpoints to the other. In some cases, these came from the heart like Brody's confrontation as Walden died or Carrie and Nazir's radical views against each other. Others were much more internalized and thought-provoking and will most likely influence what will occur in the very two episodes of the season.
The series has frequently been compared and criticized for being too similar to 24. The comparisons are fair - both of the show's creators served time on the FOX drama - and the parallels can be seen in an episode much like this one. That show frequently put its main protagonist in very comprising positions forcing him to swerve back and forth on ethnically-sound morals. Carrie being kidnapped and held at gunpoint just so Brody could do this thing for Nazir feel right in line with structure. But Homeland and 24 are two very distinct shows that both knew how to do what they're good at really well. Moments like this worked very well on 24 but here it feels like the series is reaching with its plausibility in a very different and severe way since it is so much more grounded in reality.
In conclusion, everything I have stated above is simply because I hold this series up to a very high standard. If a show like The Mob Doctor or Beauty and the Beast were able to produce an episode like this, then it would most likely be in the A range. But since Homeland has produced such great episodes like "Q & A" and "The Weekend," I am forced to grade on this very high-caliber curve. So, in the end, was this my favorite episode of Homeland? No. But the hour still had many great parts that I enjoyed quite a bit.
So what did everyone think of the episode? Did it bug you that Carrie went back? Is it certain that Brody won't be implicated in Walden's death? Does Chris always get in the way of meaningful dynamics and actions? Share your thoughts in the comments.