Homeland "Beirut Is Back" Review: Intensity Intensified

Homeland S02E02: "Beirut Is Back"

One of the things we always heard about from Carrie and Saul in Season 1 were the good old days, when the two used to run around the Middle East doing cool, dangerous CIA-operative things in the field. It was a detail that we were aware of, but not anything that was at the forefront of our mind as we focused more on domestic issues of counter-intelligence, polygraphs and finger-tapping patterns, and testing the suspension of cars while doing it in the backseat.

Last week's on-foot pursuit through the marketplaces of Beirut that finished with a smile gave us a taste of the good old and dangerous days, but tonight OH MY LORD DID YOU SEE THAT? There was a level of sustained intensity for a large portion of the episode that was almost too much to handle, and it was all well set up by our uncertainty with Carrie.

The first portion of "Beirut Is Back," one of the best episodes of Homeland to date, was carefully designed to dog pile doubt on Carrie. Saul, one of her biggest supporters, audibly expressed his reluctance to trust her judgment, Estes and his special forces buddy made the international sign for crazy (twirling finger by the ear) everytime her name came up, and Carrie didn't do herself any favors by making Carrie faces and crying on the roof all while saying how fucked up she is and how she doesn't even trust herself. It's remarkable that we as an audience still aren't fully confident in Carrie's abilities despite the fact that we know that she's always right.

That's because Homeland knows its psychology. For all the times Carrie was right, she has very few victories to show for it and that subconsciously sneaks into the back of our brains. Add to that all the doubt that comes out of every other characters' mouth–Carrie herself included this time–and Claire Danes' convincing performance as a crazy person, and it really tatters the image of the hero in our minds. Homeland does an incredible job of looking at the episode from the point of view of the viewer, asking questions like, "What will the viewer be feeling at this point and how can we exploit it?," rather than "Plot plot plot!!" It's that engrossing toying with our minds that makes Homeland excel, and the nifty side effect of that? Our brains get off on the masochism and we become more invested in the plot.

In case you forgot that Homeland co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa were on the staff for 24, the awesome ground operation to Kill or Capture Abu Nazir was there to remind you. And the way tension was layered onto the scene by bringing Brody into the war room to watch the operation unfold while he had to rely on AT&T; to save Nazir's life with top-ranking U.S. officials a peek away from exposing the biggest spy of the century. I'm pretty sure my knuckles exploded during that scene.

There's no need to replay the events of what happened after here, other than to say it was breath-stealing television, but it's worth noting that more bullets were fired in the second half of this episode than in the entire first season (I think?). But despite the new territory, that didn't mean Homeland didn't know how to manufacture a solid action sequence. The whipping camera angles, fast cuts, and Carrie's brick in the face showed this series is more than capable of going blockbuster when it needs to. It just hasn't had much of a need to do it until now. And along with Brody's tense situation in the room with Walden, the restless natives rocking Saul's SUV back and forth gave us a sequence in which the danger was not only high for Carrie on-the-run, but also for Saul in the street and for Brody all the way back in D.C. When a single event is spread that far wide, we really understand just how big the stakes are. These events didn't feel isolated. It felt like the fate of the world was being decided in that moment.

But again, it's all about Carrie. For the CIA, bringing Carrie over to Beirut has its good and bad. Yes, she's the only one who can talk to Fatima the informant which is a big win for the U.S. of A, but she's also just as likely to jump out of the SUV and into the teeth of the enemy because her singular focus on catching Nazir screams NOW NOW NOW so much that's she's willing to run into the den of the bad guys on a hunch.

And that's what you get with Carrie. She's almost a new take on the classic cop character who doesn't play by the rules and ends up throwing her badge at her boss when he mumbles, "You gotta play by the rules, son." She won't do things by the book, but she knows when to strike. And tonight she grabbed a heap of stuff from a stranger's apartment hoping something would favor her cause. And what did we find? A bunch of garbage... and the memory card that held Brody's confession video. I never expected Homeland to bring that incriminating evidence back so quick, and I certainly never expected it to get into the hands of Saul this early into Season 2. That's evidence that Brody is who Carrie thinks he was. This is redemption for all of Carrie's craziness in Season 1. This is a huge revelation for the series, and if they're bringing that up now, what do they have in store for the rest of the season? "Beirut Is Back" was a fantastic episode that added a new level to the series that still has so much to give.


NOTES

– Is anyone writing better whip-smart, annoyed, yet charming dialogue for teenagers than Homeland? The Finn and Dana encounter in the Waldens' mansion was instantly endearing.

– I guess they need to find something to do with Jessica, and getting her into the D.C. wives circle is the obvious way to go. But will it really compare with everything else that is going on?

– Brody talking to his Marines buddies was fantastic. Again, Homeland likes to put its characters with credible thoughts in positions where they aren't credible. This time it's the guy who is a boozer with a penchant for conflict, and that's consistent with Season 1.

– One concern: they've already stretched Brody very far in terms of how dedicated he can be to Abu Nazir's movement. He's done all this chores for Nazir's cause willingly despite morally disagreeing with it; I'm expecting him to resist the next request and get into deep doo doo for doing so. There can't be much more chatter about him saying something to the effect of "I've already proved myself."

– Carrie back in the U.S. She gets dropped off, and sits in her sister's living room and listens to the clock tick tick tick. After the smile from last week, it's so obvious where she needs to be. How will they get her back into the CIA this time? Will Saul finding that memory card help her cause?

– How does Saul react to finding the Brody confession? What does he do with it? Does the CIA now just keep a close eye on him to see if he's working for the other side? Does Brody have honest political aspirations? Ahhhhhh! So far, I'm incredibly satisfied with where Homeland is going in Season 2.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Actually Pramititi,



The scene set in Beirut was in Haifa Israel... and its not even Close how Beirut is... Don't mind the Series or the intrigue in the episode... What I deplore when you show a country or a town that is not TRUE!!! That offends me very much... just type Beirut Night Life in Google or Resorts in Beirut and tell me if this episode depicts how My Native City is...
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I totally agree, by far the best episode till date.

The way the scene was set in Beirut and the script throughout the scene gave me goosebumps! Although i never expected it to come so quickly, but Sal discovering the micro card is the cherry on top.



But my question is what happened to the informer? Did she actually get the green card like they promised? And how will sal handle the situation regarding Brody... Now that he knows carrie wasn't wrong??
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Saul should disseminate that info quickly. Don't die yet!



When is Carrie going to remember about Nazir's son?!? I hope when Saul finally lets her see the memory card, it'll trigger her memory.



Cannot wait for the next episode.
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Despite some "oh, please, audience, don't get picky, let this one slide" moments, that most shows seem to suffer from, this Season of Homeland seems to be best thing on TV these days. I was a fan of the show but not a big one (I watched it with pleasure but I wasn't very crazy about it), but this Season has rised the bar to a whole new level
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dabjam@hotmail.com

Homeland is well-acted, but with poor research it lacks credibility. One, Hezbollah (the party of god) is not a rag-tag group of Lebanese insugents; Hezbollah is the legitimate government of Lebanon (though controlled by Iran). Through jihad (holy war) which included years of militia street fighting, assassinations and kidnappings, Hezbollah achieved its political power. I know this from experience. Two, Brody was held eight years in Iraq and became a Muslum. Iraq is a Sunni nation, Hezbollah is Shiite. The two religious sects have been at each other throats for 1400 years over a difference of opinion following the death of Mohammad. For a Sunni to become a Shiite would be unheard of.
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they dont make it explicit which sect abu nazir belongs to iraq has a large shiite population, although he meets saudi princes so must be a sunni. In reality the two hate each other and would never collaborate.
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Are there any other options than "Saul is going to get killed" and "Saul is a mole"? How about Saul realizing that there's a mole and choosing to only tell Carrie about Brody until they've figured out who the mole is? The point would be that if they tell Saul's superiors, they won't be able to use Brody to get to Abu Nazir. (Either he will be arrested, or someone will leak the information that the CIA knows about Brody).
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goodbye Saul....
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What a hell of an episode! Stellar, adrenalinic, full of tension and a super cliffangher!

Good script by Chip Johannessen, managed with a correct and increasing tension that develops it along the whole narrative arc and it reaches the peak during the second part with the meeting in the roads in Beirut and Nazir that escapes the fire of the shooters.

The jumps between Lebanon and USA are built in a fantastic way, loosening the pathos and then intensifying it; givingthe idea of making everything complex, not such clear and tangled, exactly what a series of this type needs.

Carrie always travels on the border between madness and geniality: many congratulations to Claire Danes because she always gives that touch more to make her appear as she's a fish out of water, but, at the same time, she shows you her burning desire to return in the game and to regain the credibility to the eyes of her colleagues. Her sixth sense has not abandoned her Its sixth sense has not abandoned her and she totally trusts Fatima, that, indeed, she doesn't betray her. She, also, scares you to death when, fool as only she can be, run in the apartment to look for some document, but we discover only to the end which fruits has given such a hazardous action...and what fruit!

I would never have imagined that they could throw into the game, after only two episodes on air,the proof of the collaboration between Brody and Abu Nazir: that's why it has been such an incredible game changer. You would expect something like this in the middle of the season, not so early. Now I pretend the total rehabilitation of Carrie as an active member of the CIA, unless someone doesn't want to subsequently hinder her: also because you can see that she is totally lost without her work, as you can see in the last sequence with her.

And I'm also a bit afraid for Saul.

Brody must have nerves of steel to withstand the crossfire that its the main protagonist of his life: too things are thickening on his mind and he will be forced to work in hurry to be safe. He has already shown to be able to do this in the past, but this time the pressure could become unbearable. And, meanwhile, he saves his now best buddy in extremis with that message (too lucky to be true!).

And this is only the second episode.

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I think that brody are going to kill saul
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Dana is a terrorist.
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What a great episode. Claire Daines is going to win an Emmy again, she is just amazing ;)
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Agreed. But I want Jennifer Carpenter to win too. I hope that they will nominate JC as best supporting so that they both can win.
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Carrie back in job.....fake relationship with brody....saul as her handler....Guy with grey hair is abunazir...after brody kills him he offers all his info for immunity....



something like that i assume :)
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Great episode, after the break between seasons I think I had forgotten a little bit why I loved this show so much, but now I remember!!!
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After seeing the previews for the season, I'm leaning towards Brody killing Saul; the previews are intentionally ambiguous but I am pretty sure I saw Brody taking down a man with grey hair.



Of course, it COULD be Mike but I have a feeling Saul is going to go rogue and go to Brody directly. As much as it makes me physically ill to imagine Mandy being off the show, this is the only logical conclusion in my mind. I simply do NOT buy the idea of Saul as "double agent." Maybe I'm wrong. But Saul's death would give Carrie even more motivation to go after Brody full force.



Sidenote: Anyone else find it odd that Jessica ALWAYS refers to her husband as "Brody" & not his first name?
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POSSIBLE SPOILERS

Assuming you saw the two sneak peeks (!), it's much more plausible that the man chased by Brody is actually the tailor and not Saul. I can't see a scenario where Saul returns to the US confronting Brody personally without any observation, backup or thought. Doesn't make any sense for someone experienced like him and I can't think of any other reason where Brody (and not some other assassin) would go for Saul except when he gets confronted by him. So after thinking it through I'm pretty sure Saul will make it through.
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Jeez, that was an awesome hour of television. Like most of comments before me state, I absolutely LOVED this episode.

I don't remember ever being thrilled by a chase scene that didn't have cars driving fast or a barrage of bullets being shot. Carrie being chased by a few guys, only one of whom was carrying a peashooter, may sound uneventful but that whole scene managed to put me on the edge of my seat (well, if I had been sitting and not lying on my bed).

I had to say this a few times during season one, but I still get shocked at how quickly things move on this show. As is stated in this article, I too was surprised at how soon that video of Brody got into the hands of Saul or Carrie (in this case, just Saul).

This does lead to the big question: Why did the writers go to this revelation so early? As has been suggested in earlier comments, it does suggest that one of two things will happen in the nearby future: 1) Saul is a mole, or 2) Saul will get killed. Either choice isn't particularly satisfying to me, but the show hasn't disappointed me yet, so I'll just happily wait to see what happens.
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How on earth will Broody avoid an ouster as a terrorist now?
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Holy s**t!!! This episode was insanely thrilling. You know, Showtime, if you continue to air this, the ratings will drop badly, just because so many viewers die of a heart attack! Now I'm a little scared, because how the freaking hell are they going to top THAT??? But, from what I've seen in the sneak peeks of the next episode, they WILL. So get ready folks!

I'm sure a lot of you will disagree with me, but I actually didn't like that crazy Carrie. It was starting to annoy me. Not because this can't happen to a person with bipolar, but because of the acting. I don't like Claire Danes that much and I thought she was trying a little too hard to look insane, which made it look less believable.

But what I'm really starting to dig are the father-daughter scenes. They both seem to feel a little like...well not really outcasts, but something like that. They're like outsiders that do not fit into all of this. They're both struggling. Brody is trying to help Nazir, but doesn't want to do it inn a violent way. And Dana is struggling with him being a moslem and everyone around them not accepting it. They're both in a situation where they don't feel understood by anyone. But both of them aceept the issues and habit of the other and that makes those scenes so powerful and kind of peaceful in this war starting around them.

Great episode, but I think the next one will be even better, so Sunday, what are you waiting for?
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From the promo it looks like Saul's in trouble...
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I liked the way that they made the situation room look like the real one where they watched the Bin Laden operation.

BTW: in that picture of Abu Nazir above, doesn't the girl on the right look like production crew? ;-) And, that scene actually wasn't in the show.
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Happens all the time on TV.com, I used to think they saw a different show to the rest of us, but apparently they are 'press releases' and are not put in by the writers
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I think that Saul will rope Carrie back in and they will try flip Brody as a double agent...
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I hope so, too. Saul as double agent for Abu Nazir would be just too awful, as would him getting killed. - If Saul's on the straight, he would send the video to Langley online straight away; the tape's far too important to risk losing.

Did you notice: the first establishing shot of Beirut was a completely different place to the one we saw on the rooftop scene (Tel Aviv!).
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awesome episode, finally now someone know that carrie is right, but i think they are gonna kill saul, i hope not but i don't think the truth will come out soon to everyone
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This seems like Saul is on his way to being killed wich sucks cause i like his character but lets see how everything plays out
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The only reason I stuck with season 1 is because viewers kept raving about it. I kept waiting, just didn't see it - until season 2. Seeing an entire season of her almost zealot like behavior of Azir, then Brody too, quickly became tedious for me. But now that she's broken because everyone thinks Brody is superman, when she was actually right - that's some interesting layering.

And thanks to her zealousness, she unknowingly proved herself correct, but so far only Saul knows, and we're not sure about him either, ha! If Saul's not a mole, how will the show stretch out him busting Brody for almost an entire season? Maybe Saul will want to know who blabbed intel to Brody, then feed him disinformation? Then again, maybe Saul might be a mole, then how will Brody be found out - maybe Fatima's life in the US will be in danger, since there's a pretty good chance she knows?
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Nah. Season one is still the biz
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I really hope i am the only one out here on the ledge, but is there any chance saul got the video , and the writers are setting him up to get killed. I mean he still is in the field , obv Nazir figures out what they took and tries to track him down. He tells the only one that knew the truth from the beggining(Carrie) she was right all along, the tape gets destroyed and he gets killed (Carrie gets back in the CIA some other way / or saul puts things in motion to bring her back before his death). And possibly she starts investigating Brody again quietly. Saul maybe returns as one of Carries halucinations.
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He is listed for all Episodes, he can't get killed.
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Read above . I did say he would come back as one of Carrie s halucinations (it wouldn't be the first time this trick has been used by a show).
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OMG this would suck.
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OMG this would suck.
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Awesome episode and awesome review, Tim! I never would have suspected the big cliffhanger, took me completely by surprise. It's just that... well there's a reason why the writers had Saul send that other dude out of the room before finding the memory card. And that's probably to only have Saul knowing about this. If Saul really turned Brody in what would be the point of the rest of the show? The video is so explicit that there's no way for Brody to talk himself out of the situation. So Saul probably doesn't turn the video in, which leads to the question why. My guess: Saul must be a mole. People already predicted that last season, and so did I for just a little while. Now that thought is prominent on my mind again. I really don't want him to be a mole, but it's looking bad...
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Saul HAS to be a mole. It was a mild suspicion last season when he was given the lie detector but next episode will be a huge reveal on his cover up.

Why else would they show this huge reveal so early in the season if not to give away Saul's cover?



My concern is that Brody will now have two helpers (that news chick and Saul covering for his ass) while Carrie is completely alone and unsure of herself. If Saul really proves to be a mole helping bury Brody's video, the writers really need to throw Carrie a bone ASAP!
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Hm, I don't want Saul to be a mole, but the fact that Nazir's people knew the code to his boss's safe suggests that someone in that office is.
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It was a great episode , great acting and great writing ....Even the teenagers "specially Dana" in this show are awesome!
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P.S Beirut is so freakin open-minded , i don't know why Carrie wears Hijab over there , hell the christians " catholics" are majority over there !
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Not in the Hizbullah quarters. I am not from Bairuth, but I can imagine there is some degree of segregation outside downtown.
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Beirut is the capital of lebanon , Hizbullah quarters at north "ALJANUB " ...even though if they are in Hizbullah lands , not all women wear HIJABS and still there are alot of christian families under their wings . Anyway am not lecturing anyone but it is always bugs me when they always show the same picture of these countries !
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True, but she was meeting Fatima at Friday prayers. She can't turn up in jeans and t-shirt at the mosque!
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"incredibly satisfied" is a huge understatement.
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Thanks for this great Review. This Episode was fantastic.



Saul and the tape. Hm, normally I would say there are just 2 ways. He is getting killed by the mole before he can hand out the tape to his Boss, which is Bullshit because he is listed for all Episodes. Or he will keep the tape and won't make it public. I'm pretty sure he isn't the mole, so the big question is, why would he keep the tape?



There is no way they make the tape public and they blow Brod's Cover so early in the season.
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Great episode! Fantastic! I hope the next one keeps it up. Very surprised that Saul found the video this early, but i'm happy about it. I hope he doesn't keep it to himself for to long
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At this point you're just gushing Tim and I couldn't agree with you more. What an episode! I feel tired after watching it and my breathing still needs to be regulated. I wasn't sure that these guys could top the last couple of episodes from last season but they just showed us, didn't they.

I was kinda enjoying this ambitious, darker side of Jessica but in the context of everything else that is going on, it does feel pretty useless. I wanted to give Brody a hug (after he sent a text to a TERORRIST to save his life) and his hand was shaking. Is something wrong with me?
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Best episode of any TV show this year.
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BTW, Tim, great review!!!!!!!!!
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This episode was AMAZING. I'm still shaking. Wow..... The position in which Brody is in it's so realistic for me...he doesn't know what to do, one one side Nazir and all the terrorist stuff, on the other all the "dirtiness" of the US-politic with bomb makers and war-promoter...poor Brody...I feel so bad for him...
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brilliant episode yet had it turned out any other way i would have called shenanigans. I didn't start and continue watching this show because i thought it was a mediocre re-iteration of ones that have been done before. when brody alerted nazir without repercussion i was ready to call it quits. it's been done in every series hinging on season long mystery arch we've ever watched. but this show didn't do it. it justified my rooting for it emmy wise. it said fuck it and delivered the big reveal only two episodes in.



at this point i can't giver a shit what other critics think. i appreciate the writing and development just as much as i did last season if not more so. this show is now still in contention despite the fact i was readily willing to proclaim last resort new supreme leader of drama on television (and i watch not just homeland but boardwalk empire, justified, and *shit* too wasted to continue any further. okay remembered game of thrones and i honestly can't think of other ones because i'm past the legal limit to drive in california.
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Great episode. I want to start a Dana fan club. That girl is something else.
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YES YES YES i love Dana too.
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Either Seul is going to keep his mouth shut and pretend he didn't watch the tape, or Showtime's executives are like: $hit! we aired the wrong episode!.. Because there is no way I can think of how the show will continue after this episode.



If Seul declares who Brody is, whats next?

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great episode...amazing ending. alot better than last weeks slow premiere.
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Wow! Excellent episode. Definitely did not expect the video to come back into play so quickly.

I did figure that Abu Nazir had to actually turn up because if he didn't then whatever faith remained in Carrie would be wiped, but he also had to live so that Brody's conflict could continue - that said, the way it played out was nail-bitingly fantastic.

I was a little worried (as were a lot of people) as to how Homeland would fair on its sophomore plot lines, but so far I'm head over heals in love with the new season!
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Great review for another stellar episode. I'm only (slightly) worried about two things moving forward in season two: a) That Saul is a mole. I know these are writers previously affiliated with "24," but please, if it has to be someone, let it be anyone other than Saul, and b) That Carrie's feelings will get in the way of capturing Brody. This second point would make for interesting TV, but after her much-needed vindication, I don't think I could bear to watch Carrie crumble and mess it all up. The writers stated that at the height of this season, like in season one, the focus will be Carrie and Brody's relationship. Here's hoping she makes some rational decisions this time around.
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BEST. EPISODE. EVER.

I've never been so excited since... well since the finale of the second season of Fringe. But that's another story. This episode was an atomic bomb. Saul finding out about Brody? Carrie in a rooftop in Beirut? Brody saving a terrorist via BlackBerry? Breaking Bad ends next year, if Homeland can keep this roller coaster of insanity for another season. Television has a new king.
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nothing but the absolute destruction of God's creation is interesting when it comes to methamphetamine. fuck breaking bad.
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Breaking Bad does everything *but* glorify the meth trade.

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Uh what? You hate breaking bad because you don't approve of meth? That doesn't make any sense.
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