Homeland Review, Season 1, Episode 2: “Grace”
Written by Alex Gansa and Alexander Cary
Directed by Michael Cuesta
Airs Sundays at 10pm (ET) on Showtime
Episode 2 of Homeland, entitled “Grace”, picks up where the pilot left off, and gives us more of the same. That’s a very good thing. Better still, this second episode expands our understanding of the central mystery as well as the inner conflict Brody is facing. Now, after seeing how this story plays out over more than one episode, it’s clear that this is a show building to something, and building slowly, allowing the characters ample time to develop before the plot really kicks into high gear. Now this might be wishful thinking, but if the writers can pull off the same kind of slow burn into an explosive finish that we saw in Season 4 of Breaking Bad, we could be in for a real treat.
But before I get ahead of myself and write the rest of the season on my own, let’s take a look at what went down in this episode. On the Carrie side of things, she’s still spending as much time as humanly possible watching those surveillance monitors. I get that it’s her job, but she seems to be more invested than she really should be. That voyeurism makes her current role in the show more than a little creepy, and given some of her behaviour, as well as the revelation that she might be suffering from an undiagnosed mental disease, she comes across as a somewhat unhinged. This element of her character seems to make her good at her job, but it also seems to make her a black sheep at the CIA. Luckily, she has a friend in Saul Berenson. Though he is quite angry at her, when she showed him some very slim evidence of her theory last episode, he did come around just a bit. He managed to get her legal clearance for surveillance on Brody for a month. You can bet Carrie is going to use that month as best as she can. We also got more of a glimpse in Carrie’s non-work life, with a visit to her sister’s house to procure some more of that anti-psychotic she’s been taking. Her familial relationship appears quite strained. A mixture of refusing to be diagnosed and putting her work ahead of everything has made her something of an outsider.
Over at the Brody household, we get a really great scene between Brody and his son, right before Brody goes off on a reporter stalking his backyard. Brody then disappears for a bit to do some shopping, you know, as you would. Carrie is, of course, having him tailed, but figuring out his plans from his shopping list is proving difficult. Even more difficult is the fact that when Brody get home, he goes to put his stuff in the garage, and as it turns out, Virgil, the hilarious guy who set up the surveillance cameras, opted not to put one there. When Brody gets inside, he sees Mike, the guy who’s been secretly seeing Jessica for the last few years. This leads to a tense scene in which Brody all but physically kicks Mike out of his house. We also see that in his sleep, Brody has been physically abusing Jessica. He is obviously tormented by his time in Afghanistan. When left alone at home, he opts to curl up in a corner against the wall, not moving for hours, like he did during his captivity. Whether he has been turned or not, Brody is still going through some tough times re-adjusting, and it’s not easy for his family either.
And then there’s the third plot, which is newly introduced. Carrie, through a high-priced escort she’s talked into spying for her, manages to get eyes on Abu Nasir. Now Carrie has another lead to pursue alongside her Brody investigation. The reappearance of Nasir at the same time as Brody only serves to strengthen her conviction that something big is being plotted.
Finally, there’s the big revelation. At least one of the items Brody bought was a carpet, and early in the morning he gets up, goes into his garage, lays the carpet down and begins going through a good old fashioned session of Islamic prayer. Damning evidence! Furthermore, he follows that up by getting into uniform and stepping out his front door to play hero for the media. If ever there were signs that he’s playing into some sort of game, this is it. Or maybe he was simply converted to Islam and has also decided not to become a shut-in. We really don’t know, but I for one can’t wait to find out.