Homeland, Ep 1.11: “The Vest” is an explosion of character

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Homeland, Season 1, Episode 11: “The Vest”
Written by Meredith Stiehm & Chip Johannessen
Directed by Clark Johnson
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on Showtime

One thing about Homeland that should have been clear by now is that you have to expect the unexpected. This was supposed to be an explosive episode leading into an even more explosive finale. Of course, if the show has proven anything it’s that it will almost always choose character over action. This week there was an explosion, but this time the bomb was Carrie.

After being caught in the bomb blast last week and then being stuck in a hospital for days, Carrie has gone off her meds. Her bi-polar disorder has taken over, and it has manifested itself in manic fits over everything around her, including a lack of green pens. What’s interesting about her breakdown is how laser-focused she becomes. Carrie basically doesn’t live for anything other than her work, and when she succumbs to her illness that work is the only thing she can attach herself to. Claire Danes does great work showing all sides of manic and depressed in the episode. While her thoughts and ideas are quite sane, Carrie’s process has become effectively insane. Danes plays that perfectly. You can see the gears inside her head turning a mile a minute, and her mouth just trying to keep up.

Also delivering a great performance this week was Mandy Patinkin. Of course, Patinkin is amazing every week, but this week in particular was a stand out. His coming to terms with Carrie’s disorder was incredibly touching. Saul wonders whether he should have guessed at it sooner and done something about it. He feels responsible for Carrie, and when she’s too out of it he even sees fit to continue the project she was working on. Again, everything we need to know is right there on his face. Carrie is family to him, and this is especially important now that his wife has left.

Speaking of that project he helped finish. Carrie, in her manic state, pieced together a timeline of all of Nazir’s known history since 2001. The only gap in the intelligence timeline comes right around the time Nazir’s compound was struck by a drone missile and his son was killed. Carrie doesn’t know the details, but she correctly assumes that this moment in time had Nazir grieving a great loss. She sees this as a crucial bit of information in piecing together Nazir’s motivations and understanding what he might be plotting.

The Brody family, meanwhile, takes a trip to Gettysburg. Damien Lewis gives perhaps his best performance so far this season during this episode. His interactions with his daughter are particularly touching, while also quite menacing. Interestingly, his daughter picks up that menacing vibe. She senses that something isn’t right. And it isn’t Brody actually went to Gettysburg in order to meet a bomb maker and pick up a bomb vest. Brody’s daughter almost finds it an opens it, and maybe this will come back in the finale. Either way, it looks like Nazir’s plot is fully underway at this point, and so far Brody is going right along, contemplating hi forthcoming suicide attack.

Then there was the big twist of the episode, and amazingly it was a twist based purely on character. Carrie calls Brody to meet and discuss that blind spot in the timeline, Brody agrees, only when Carrie opens her front door to greet him she is met by Estes and some other CIA guys. Brody told them about the affair and about Carrie’s illegal surveillance and Estes is now raiding her house, taking away her work and firing her. It looks like Carrie is going to have to go rogue!

So what do you think will happen in next week’s finale? So much is up in the air. Do you think we’ll even get a satisfying ending to many of the threads, or are we looking at full on cliffhanger mode? Leave a comment below!

3 Comments
  1. Mario in Philly says

    I’m thinking Brody for some reason will have to go to Plan B and Carrie will have to go rogue. (That was the exact word I thought of too!) Anything can happen.
    The season finale episode is listed as 90-minutes long.

  2. Sage says

    Brody is clearly brainwashed, but the exploding vest is a dud and a test of his loyalty. He is more valuable alive than dead. Has anyone else wondered what happened between Issa’a death and Brody’s rescue? He was removed from the filth, clean shaven and living in nice living quarters with clean clothes while tutoring Issa. But when he was rescued he had about 3 years worth of hair growth and found living in a hole. I loved Carrie and Brody together and I think he was falling for her. they have more chemistry than Brody and his wife.

  3. tmack says

    I’d still like to reserve judgement about Saul. While it could be true that the writers are using him as a distraction from the real mole, his actions remain suspicious in this episode. Carrie is important to Saul because she gives him information, she’s his eyes, ears, and mind out in the field. Her actions have enabled him to keep ahead of the curve and manage the action. Saul puts together Carrie’s timeline, leaves and leaves her house. Now Brody could have very well turned Carrie in because she was getting to close for comfort; but the only other person who had this information about Carrie & Brody AND the illegal surveillance was Saul. I would also wonder why Estes wouldn’t talk to Saul before showing up at Carrie’s house to fire her and, if he did, why Saul didn’t accompany Estes for the purpose of consoling Carrie in her fragile state.

    Of course I could be completely wrong about Saul but he seems to know everything, so I was a tad surprised that he didn’t know about Carrie’s illness. He referred, though, to something happening to her in Iraq that damaged her.

    Perhaps a mentally off kilter Carrie jeopardizes Saul and it was time to sideline her.

    Of course, I could be wrong.

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