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‘Homeland’ Review: “Two Hats”

Homeland Season 2 Two Hats Preview Clips
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Hey, everyone gets “Two Hats” to wear in this week’s episode of ‘Homeland,’ but unfortunately we’re only talking figuratively. Brody comes back, but what’s that guy been up to since he was abducted by Abu Nazir (again)?

The best moments in this week’s ‘Homeland’ are those that elaborate on the episode’s title — “Two Hats.” And the most compelling of those moments is when Brody recounts what happened with Abu Nazir to Saul, Carrie, Quinn and Estes. Thanks to some very un-subtle editing, we’re brought back to the interrogation room to hear Brody tell us what Nazir said or how he himself responded, and then we cut back to the past and let those characters speak for themselves — but when Brody is telling us what was said, we can’t be sure if he’s being honest. He once again omits his Muslim beliefs from the story completely, though we see in flashback that he’s back to praying alongside his former captor. So the two hats Brody wears are quite obvious — terrorist and CIA cooperative.

And is there anything more unbelievable than Brody saying, “F— him” when referring to Nazir? Sorry, guy, I’m just not buying it.

Neither is David Estes, apparently. Saul sends Virgil to dig up some dirt on Quinn, who lives like a paranoid minimalist, has a sniper rifle, and meets F. Murray Abraham (hell yes) on a bus — turns out Abraham has been in one some Black Ops-level terrorist detail stuff, and when Quinn’s ex-girlfriend refuses to help Saul (wearing a second hat as a fake IRS agent), he goes straight to Estes, who confirms that Quinn is around to kill terrorists just like everyone else. And that’s true, to an extent, but Quinn has been assigned one terrorist in particular, should the CIA successfully stop Abu Nazir: Brody.

Unfortunately, the crew stops Nazir’s plan, but not the man himself. At least two characters this week ask how the hell Nazir could get into our country when he’s such a high-profile terrorist threat, and I’m kind of wondering about that too. The mention of this — twice — led me to believe that there’s a specific reason the writers want us to know, but they aren’t ready to tell us just yet. Perhaps it’s another piece of the puzzle that will click into place in the final couple of episodes, just like season 1.

The reveal of Quinn’s real mission is the second most interesting thing about “Two Hats,” and it hints at some darkness in the CIA — stuff that Saul would never take part in, and Estes knows this, which is why he tells him as little as possible. We’re starting to understand why Saul does the work he does, and why he’s likely seen his co-workers promoted past him dozens of times over the years. I can’t — and maybe this is because Mandy Patinkin looks so sweet and grandfatherly with that beard — imagine him being the kind of guy who takes part in promising safety to Brody (and his family) for his cooperation in stopping a terrorist, but secretly plots to kill him once the government has what it needs. And what would happen to Brody’s family once he’s been taken out?

Sure, turnabout is fair play, and Brody betrayed the trust of his own government first, risking the lives of so many innocent people. On some level, it makes sense that they would kill him, and just because Saul and Carrie (and Virgil and Danny, too) are such highly empathetic characters doesn’t mean that we should forget that the CIA largely deals in manipulation, calculation and, of course, intelligence. They aren’t the Central Emotions Agency.

And over at the Brody house, Jessica is climbing back into bed with Mike when he wrangles her and the kids and takes them to a CIA safe house (aka a really f—ing nice hotel suite). Carrie knew this was likely to happen, which is why she chose Mike (aside from how much Jess and the kids trust him) to go with the family — and Brody knows it too, which is why he makes a point of asking Carrie if it was her decision. While not nearly as successful this week, I still enjoy the parallels between Brody and the CIA, and Brody and Carrie — who’s playing who? What’s true and what isn’t? Who really has the upper hand? What makes all of this work is that it never feels redundant (when it should, and it’s gotten close before) or too excessive — it never feels too big for itself or the world it inhabits. We believe it and we stay invested in these characters because they feel tangible.

So “Two Hats” is a rather literal title for this week’s episode: Saul as CIA agent and IRS man; Quinn as high-level government assassin (apparently) and CIA analyst; Brody as a CIA cooperative and a terrorist. And even visually the title is literal: we see Quinn put on a hat to disguise himself getting off the bus; Abu Nazir dons a hat before hopping into his SUV; and Quinn’s buddy Dar Adul (yes, I have found the proper spelling!), who wears a hat during their bus meet.

Two hats for everyone! Next week, a third hat is introduced and Dana learns the value of juggling.

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