Monday, 27 February 2012

Homeland episode 2: Who can we trust, and is that Lynne doomed or what?

Returned from captivity after eight years, US Marine Nicholas Brody in Homeland isn't coping too well with life back home with his family. With journalists camped outside his house and pressure from his bosses to play up to the role of American hero to the public, for some reason he seems to prefer to spend his time in his new t-shirt and pj bottoms cowering in the corner of his bedroom.

On one hand Brody appears on the edge of total mental collapse, with nightmares and flashbacks to his imprisonment when he had that enormous beard, while on the other he's seen secretly praying to Allah in his garage - something that Carrie the CIA agent can't monitor from her home that looks like a secret lair but with nothing in the fridge, as there's no CCTV cameras installed in that part of his house so her and her team of observers have a 'blind spot'.

A double agent?

We're no closer to knowing if Brody is a secret terrorist and double agent or not, and whether it's the CIA agent Carrie we shouldn't be trusting, rather than Brody. His praying in the garage in secret could be how he finds peace from the memories of his imprisonment - or it could be a sign of his allegiance to his previous captors' cause. But despite this, he's still quite a sympathetic character -even though he lashed out at a persistent journalist snooping in his garden (giving him a quick finger prod in the throat).

But Brody is still just as much a victim or pawn now he's back home, but just with a different captor; while it's also becoming clear just how determined Carrie is.

She's hassling her doctor sister for medication to help her manage her mental health problems, while also looking after a civilian 'asset' Lynne Reed, who is working as a CIA informant by posing as a recruiter of mistresses for Prince Farid Bin Abbud.

Unlucky Lynne

It's the episode's biggest and oddest surprise - Lynne sizing up a topless model with a straight face, while questioning her on her tastes for alcohol and anal sex, before declaring that the candidate must get a Brazilian wax if she wants to proceed with her 'job application'. Lynne has evidence of the whereabouts of terrorism leader Abu Nazir, but she's panicking about that being discovered and then being stoned to death.

But putting the success of the operation ahead of the safety of her contact, Carrie assures her she's being looked after and guarantees Lynne she is safe. Carrie's not quite telling the truth, and Lynne's days definitely appear to be numbered. She probably won't see episode 4.

Elsewhere, military bosses approach Brody's best friend (and former secret lover of Brody's wife) Captain Mike to put pressure on Brody to play that American hero role more publicly. Carrie's superiors believe that if Brody was doing this, it would fit the profile of someone working undercover as a terrorist more closely - certainly more closely than of someone who hides in his bedroom - so when at the end of the episode, a uniformed Brody steps out of his front door ready to speak to the press, Carrie's thrilled: "He's out there playing the hero card."

It's only episode two (of 12) and its producers promise not to tease us with the 'is he/isn't he' question for too long - but right now, it's the question keeping us watching.

Homeland, Channel 4, Sundays 9pm

Related stories:
- Homeland episode 1: It's all in the finger tapping, probably
- Homeland episode 2: Who can we trust, and is that Lynne doomed or what?
- Homeland: Key points from an interview with its writers and creators Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
- Homeland: Well that'll teach her to take her men-folk back to the country cabin, won't it

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