Homeland "Two Hats" Review: Knowing Is Half the Battle

Homeland S02E09: "Two Hats"

"Two Hats" was an appropriately titled episode of Homeland because A) you needed two bring two hats because the intensity of the episode kept blowing them off, and B) it was a two-headed monster with dual gripping storylines. Not only did we watch two excellently crafted stories play "anything you can do I can do better" but neither one was resolved, leaving us only with the knowledge that two maniacs are still on the loose and that we can trust exactly no one. Except for maybe Chris Brody, and if apartments with flatscreen TVs in every room are on the table, we can't even trust him.

When Homeland is at its best, the person we can trust least is ourselves, and right now I can't help but throw the mirror a suspicious glance every time I walk by it. Homeland is great at giving us one side of the story and as much of the other side as it can without letting us know everything. As we examine all the information we have, or think we have, we fall prey to what we think we know or double back to anticipate twists and what we're left with is a viewing experience puts us in the same mindset as many of the characters onscreen. And that mindset is something like pogo-sticking in a room full of bear traps.

Brody's run-in with Nazir last week portended huge developments in Nazir's plan to ruin America's day, and we were not disappointed. Brody was quickly reunited with Carrie and the CIA to give them a download of his meeting with Nazir. The way that information was given to the CIA (and us) was brilliant. We never saw what happened directly with Nazir and Brody, we only saw the version Brody wanted to tell the CIA.

That seems like nice and clean story progression on the surface, but in the world of Homeland it only presents more possibilities (a euphemism for mind-fuckery). We don't know what happened back at Nazir's playhouse with Brody. We don't know if Brody's telling the truth or lying, and if you take those flashbacks at face value, then sorry, you're an idiot (though the detail he left out about praying with Nazir definitely falls under lying). Homeland has already set precedent for Brody's flahsbacks to be untrustworthy when he lied about Tom Walker's "death" in Season 1. We don't know if Brody is telling a lie but thinking he's telling the truth because Nazir used him as a messenger to deliver false information right into the hands of the CIA. We don't know if the successful raid on Roya's breakfast meeting thwarted a potential terrorist attack or if it was a diversion from the real plan.

All we know is the story keeps chugging along at a blistering pace while dragging us with it and keeping all these options very much still in play. At this point, nothing would surprise me from the developments in the Nazir story in "Two Hats." But I get the feeling that Brody, once a valuable asset to Nair, is now being used by Nazir to occupy the CIA's attention while the real plan takes place elsewhere. Nazir knows Brody is as stable as the plutonium he'd love to drop on the White House, and his closeness to the CIA is suspect enough for Nazir to really second guess his employ of Brody. When he had Brody in his possession it should have been curtains for Brody, even Brody thought so. However, Nazir kept him alive for some reason, and if he's as ruthless and hard to catch as Carrie makes him out to be then he wouldn't have reason to depend on a man who is fucking a CIA agent and recently tried to quit just as things were getting critical. If he covers his tracks with Brody so that Brody can't identify where he is and he suspects that Brody is in bed with the CIA, then the only reason he would keep Brody alive is if he was a decoy. That's a lot of "ifs" but "ifs" are all we have to go on at the moment. Normally that's a dangerous situation for a show, but Homeland has done a really good job of keeping all these situations plausible and our brains paranoid.

Normally, that alone would be enough fat to stuff an episode, but "Two Hats" packed in even more suspense with the mystery of Peter Quinn IF THAT IS HIS REAL NAME and no, it isn't. We all knew Quinn was a bit of a loose cannon but now we know he's a lot more than that. What exactly that is we don't know, but he's operating on a level even more clandestine than Carrie's group and he's doing it with the aid of CIA director David Estes and the mysterious Dar Adul (guest star F. Murray Abraham), a man who previously worked with Saul. The final moments, when he's about to be the worst limo driver Brody ever had, are among the season's most tense moments as so much crashed down around us.

We all knew that Estes only kept Brody around because they thought they needed him to catch Nazir, but sending a familiar face to murder him was a whole new level. The idea of good guys versus bad guys in Homeland has always been muddied, but now it's almost a free-for-all. Estes almost had Brody shot in the back seat of a car Pulp Fiction style and Quinn would have had to look for Dead Ginger Storage! Are we supposed to consider Estes and Quinn "bad" guys now? Because I don't. It's not smart to watch Homeland rooting for anyone because everyone has their own despicable ways of accomplishing their self interests. You're better off enjoying the controlled chaos from a safe distance so as not to get caught up in any collateral damage.

"Two Hats" was right up there with the best episodes of the season because it was able to simultaneously tell two gripping stories at a pace that would leave normal shows huffing and puffing. The near misses at the finish (Nazir not being in the raid and Quinn standing down) might feel like ends that weren't closed, but it makes "Two Hats" a compelling first half of a two-part episode block that I can't wait to see conclude next week. If there's one line in Homeland that really encapsulates the spirit of the show, it's a throwaway line that Saul muttered in this episode: "Until we know for sure, everyone's a terrorist."



NOTES

– This was almost an episode off for Carrie, as the focus was on Quinn and Brody and Carrie wasn't much more than a fed just doing her job.

– I couldn't really extract much of importance from the Brodys being shacked up in a deluxe apartment in the sky, but it's fascinating to see what the procedure for people being protected by the CIA. I guess seeing Dana upset at Brody shows that she won't be able to talk him out of anything this time around, and Morena Baccarin naked, while not important to the overall story of Homeland, is really, really great for America. We can all agree that Jess is better off with Mike, right?

– We got some more inconsistent acting from Baccarin, who did her best work when Jess had to deliver an impromptu speech to veterans while Brody took a car wash shower but has since been more wooden.

– Virgil wins line of the night with "If Quinn reports to a guy like Dar Adul, he's no more an analyst than I'm in the hair club for men."

– Is the CIA codename for Nazir, Sandman, the best they could come up with? Not only is it slightly racist, but it's pretty damn boring.

Comments (35)
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What a great episode. Homeland's writers are at the top of their game again. I can't wait to see what happens. My only problem again is Dana. She hears about how her dad is working with the CIA, to help national security, and she throws a fit because it's all his fault. And by doing so she thinks she is more important than a terrorist attack. Homeland writers, please stop making Dana such a brat. I can't stand her!
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Since the end of last season I've always considered Estes a bad guy who we tolerate because we need him so we can get clearance to do CIA stuff. I don't remember what exactly he did, but he definitely did something objectively bad last season while acting as a rogue agent. Maybe it had something to do with Walden covering up the drone strike?
Anyway, this means I'm not terribly surprised at his turn this week.
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A nit but a question: Did Brody really lie about Walker last season? I thought he actually believed he'd killed him.
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I can't believe no one has made any mention of this so far but Quinn is not a "mole" or a "terrorist" (seriously, a terrorist? Look up its definition in the dictionary is all I have to say)

But back to Quinn, I am pretty sure that he's working with a black ops team! I thought it was rather obvious... Any thoughts?
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Yes. Black ops team. As far as we know so far, anyway!
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Homeland is chalk full of mysteries, but there's one that is pressing on my mind most of all:

Was that Tim Horton's coffee they were drinking?! I think it was. Even the CIA loves Timmies.
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I wondering if there is a Timmies near the Canadian consulate or something?
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Or maybe they were filming in Canada?
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I thought it was a slow cooked ep. I could see it coming that they would get rid of Brody. Brody is as good as dead and Carrie can start hoarding kleenex LOL Now Saul looking into Quinn that was interesting, I was wondering when that was going to happen... am I too paranoid?
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Woah! This was a great episode! I had to watch a good bit of it through my fingers! Major cringe for Carrie when she told Brody it was really good to see him; it always seems to me like he forgets just how strong her feelings are for him, which he really shouldn't, she is mentally ill fer gawds sake!
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While I thought the Brody-Nazir storyline to be a little bit predictable and obvious I was completely washed away by the Quinn/John storyline. Wow, one of the best executed twists I saw in a long time. Who is this Dar Adul(?)? Was Abu Nazir his former student? Countless possibilities...
Quote:"Are we supposed to consider Estes and Quinn "bad" guys now? Because I don't."
Tim Surette would survive the spy-world for about six minutes.
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YES! we got a break from Carrie's crying face. Hope they don't kill Brody, that would mean season 3 can be replaced with a picture of Carrie's crying face.
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all i know is (going on that episode) i don't want either (al-Qaeda or the C.I.A) knocking on my door....lol
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I don't think the flashbacks of Brody killing Tom Walker were lies, he believed it at the time, he wasn't lying.
He was tricked into believing it, but he did believe it and told the story like it was real in his head and the flashbacks were how he saw it
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I hope this doesn't mean Carrie and Quinn can't get together... I was really hoping that Quinn was going to be "good" for her (his "I'm extremely reliable" comment) as opposed to the self-destructive mess she has with Brody.
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what is it with the surveillance timecode in this series? A frame counter? Come on, that's way too nerdy - and inaccurate. That tape when Quinn came in with them coffees was running for just about 11 minutes...

Else: it's a trap. Brody is burned, "we gonna need him" does save his life for this one but honestly? That dude is mashed meat, possibly by the revenge of Abu Nazir: who else could have blown the operation? I would not be surprised if the battery exchange was something just like a PA run of "uh, we got them them empty batteries, let's exchange 'em to fully loaded ones!" - and by 'loaded' I do not mean loaded with something. Everybody's gonna walk and Brody is burned.

Sidenote: what's about that shovel on the wall in Walden's office What's up with that? Uuuuuuh, weah- what's up with that?
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I'm quite surprised at such high praise. It was a good episode, but not that great.
Why on earth would the CIA assume that Nazir would be in a group only hours after Nazir himself had told the plan to Brody, knowing he was unstable??

This seems a ridiculous course of action to me from such a group, if we are to believe we are looking at top operatives on both sides. Between Saul, Carrie, Estes and Quinn they seemed to show no 'intelligence' at all. There was nothing to suggest why they should so easily trust the information when they don't fully trust Brody and they didn't know if Brody was used, Yet it was even sillier that they would assume Nazir would be there.

Why?

So for me, there were too many holes in why people did what they did.
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The only thing that bothers me this season is that Estes has not been suspicious of the fact that when Brody was in his office he was forced to see Roya. After the fact that should have raised questions. Still the fact that Brody has not told anybody he stole codes from Estes safe, makes me believe that this is the real attack. Other than that great television!
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I agree. Brody stole intel on the top 8 most likely domestic targets for a terrorist attack, and as Carrie has made Nazir out to be a master strategist, I don't think this was his only plan in motion. But in Estes defense, he's an idiot, so I was not expecting him to put the pieces together in any timely fashion when he is utterly consumed with CYA maneuvers.
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Great review Tim.

You know I'm not sure you should be so lenient on Estes, the man is dirty. Remember season 1? The cover ups with the now vice president Walden about ultra killing drones? I'll never root for either of them that's for sure!

I'm glad this show can still be outstanding when Carrie is just a passer by. Only 3 more episodes left ;_;
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Hey no mention of Jessica re-visiting "Old Times" with Mike...I thought that was the highlight of the show . LOL!!!!
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I'm not in the group that finds Dana very annoying, but I couldn't help but smile when Mike got tough on her after she threw a little tantrum in her room. I understand her frustration but, uh, shut up. Hehe.

Jess is obviously better off with Mike. Mike's probably the "best" guy on this show, aside from sleeping with his once-best-friend's wife, of course... but even that's complicated and fairly understandable.

Oddly, I didn't find too much enjoyment in seeing Morenna topless. Maybe it's just because I've seen (and rewatched, and paused, and screencapped) it plenty of times before.

Quinn as a secret spy within a group of secret spies is pretty cool. While everyone else is just into watching surveillance, listening to wiretaps, and in Carrie's case, falling in love with her subject, it's interesting to see Quinn as a hitman in the spy world.
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I'm glad I caught up again in time to post this week. Anyway, I like that they were about to kill Brody. I like him, and I know that he isn't going anywhere, but it was nagging at me that they were really gonna let him walk away after coming that close to wiping out a presidential bunker. Brody's not going to die anytime before the end of the series (if ever), but he needs to.

Still, it's ridiculous that Quinn had to do it. It doesn't surprise me that he was capable, as he's proven to be pretty hardcore when necessary, but Brody's never proven to personally be that deadly. I guess it was just a way to add intrigue to one of the known characters, but it didn't seem pratical in the story. If Brody was just going to hop in a limo with a random driver, they could've placed any capable agent in Quinn's place to look back and shoot Brody. Ehh. Saul and Carrie are gonna know it was Quinn, and Saul would know Estes was in on it. Too much unnecessary chaos.

I'm not certain on this, but I thought that Brody actually thought he killed Walker when they were in captivity. They told Brody that Walker was dead, and then they took Brody away one place, and they took Walker somewhere else. Brody hadn't seen or heard from Walker until they met in that tunnel. It was Nazir using that moment of torture to turn them both from opposite directions. I think.

And the CIA team trying to catch Nazir, it was stupid that they actually assumed he'd be in there at all, let alone sitting around during a mission he didn't need to oversee. I thought they acted so quickly because they couldn't let them get mobile again with whatever explosives were in those battery cases. It didn't make sense for Nazir to be in the States at all, other than his 'going down fighting' choice...which didn't make sense. If he's still setting up attacks, he doesn't need to stand over them and beat his chest. I guess it's good to be dramatic for television, but it seems like Homeland gave up a lot of sense for a cheap thrill.

If anything, Roya and her cell had to be Plan A, or whatever plan was less important. As the reviewer said, it doesn't make sense that Nazir would just drop his sketchy 'turned spy' back into the heart of his only plan. This year isn't as good as the first, but this is still a great show, and I'm not ready to accept that the Big Bad of Homeland is that stupid. *Kinda* stupid, he's already shown by coming to the States. If that guy wants to redeem his image, he's on his way back home on an different old Chinese frieghter than the one that brought him.

And I was just quietly thinking to myself that we hadn't seen Morena naked since the very first episode, so this episode could've been an utter pile of crap this week, and I'd still put it in the win column after that. Brody's actor might win awards, but Mike gets a half-naked scene with her every year, so *that* guy wins every time.
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Yes, this is all a bit confusing. Lot of information missing. There has to be something very big behind to justify Quinn's secret role. I don´t buy that he was hired just to kill Brody? Anyone could have done that, no need to have him following the entire operation from the inside for that. Would they also try to get rid of Carrie, since she slept with him? And well, it does not make any sense to kill Brody instead of arresting him. Unless of course some politician is trying to correct his errors judging character. So many questions!
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Is it me or did the Quinn stuff come out of left field? I looked at my boyfriend and he at me and we were confused. So Quinn is more of a bada$$ than we thought.
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Quinn took a bullet in the gut a few weeks ago, but was still able to play dead well enough and long enough to fool the terrorists into leaving him alone. Definitely not your typical analyst.
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I was pretty surprised by it. When they set it up, I thought that they were going to reveal that he was a mole working with the terrorists, so I was starting to get disappointed, and then things got awesome again.
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I guess the Quinn stuff was basically out of left field, but it does make sense to the story. The gang feel they have a mole in their operation somewhere, and Quinn is the biggest guy in their group with whom Saul, Carrie, and Hershel aren't really aware of. It makes sense that they'd try to find out more about him. Him being some sort of secret super agent is pretty damn cool.
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Nah, I called that he was an SAD operator from day one.
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Are we really suppose to believe that Carrie's team would attempt to capture Abu Nazir without visual confirmation? At the beginning of the season they waited until they had gotten this. Therefore I felt no suspense and you could tell what was going to happen from a mile away. Major letdown.
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I'm not sure what you're getting at.. those terrorists were about to blow up 300 soldiers, they had to be taken down regardless of whether Abu Nazir was with them
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I still want to see if they will bring back Goncalves, as I think he is the mole and has been the whole time. They last left him on his deathbed, and called in his parents expecting the worse, but I don't think he 's died. And can they really NOT reveal the mole for two whole seasons???

Another aside, is Brody back on team Nazir? Or he is going "along" with the Nazir outwits CIA plan, thus seeming to be loyal to Nazir, but he is still team USA? All of this is way too multiple-personality-disorder and leaves me spinning. I guess that's the point.

Great episode, didn't quite know where it was going to veer off to, and now can't hardly wait for the final 3 episodes!

Still wondering about Quinn's background and how the cop and baby fit in. She is probably more than your average cop, as she didn't believe any of Saul's story for a second. IRS? Seriously? They couldn't do better than that? IRS agents don't usually "go out in the field" do they?

Yes, Jess and Mike are much better together and the 4 of them made me feel like some semblance of familial normality might be possible for them. Morena has lovely breasts, btw.

Am I the only one who thinks Abu Nazir looks slightly handsome now that he's shaved off all that facial hair??? Not a bad looking terrorist.
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"Am I the only one who thinks Abu Nazir looks slightly handsome now that he's shaved off all that facial hair??? Not a bad looking terrorist."

Hahaha. I had the same thought! Are we bad people?
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Danny Galvez is back next episode.
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