HOMELAND 1.05 ‘Blind Spot’

Carrie and Saul are forced to bring in Brody for an interrogation and the fallout leaves all three of them shaken.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Blind Spot"

Writer: Alexander Cary

Director: Michael Cuesta

Previously on "Homeland":

CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) risked her career by arranging secret video surveillance of a recently freed prisoner of war, U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis); whom she believed had been turned by Al-Qaeda into their puppet for the next big terror attack on America. However, with little to go on and the warrant running out, Carrie's mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) ordered her to have the surveillance equipment removed from Brody's house. Unfortunately for Carrie, the garage wasn't placed with a camera or she would have been even more suspicious upon learning that Brody has been privately praying in a Muslim tradition.

As part of the CIA's ongoing attempt to find terrorist leader, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban); Carrie and her new partner, Danny Galvez (Hrach Titizian) were assigned to look into the activities of a man named Rakim Fizel (Omid Abtahi), whom they believed was part of Nazir's latest plot. However, someone tipped off Fizel's wife that he was being followed by the CIA and she was able to warn her husband with a prearranged symbol.

Meanwhile, Brody's relationship with his wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin) began to deteriorate and he agreed to go to a veteran support group. Sensing her chance, Carrie went to the support group as well and initiated contact with Brody as a way of keeping an eye on him.

Story:

In the Middle East, U.S. forces capture Afsal Hamid, the last surviving member of the terrorists who were holding Brody hostage. David Estes (David Harewood) orders Carrie and Saul to interrogate Hamid… with the assistance of Brody. Naturally, Carrie freaks out in private, but Saul insists that it will also be a good opportunity to observe Brody's behavior  towards Hamid. We also see how Carrie is getting her extra anti-psychotic pills… by stealing them from her father, Mr. Mathison (James Rebhorn); whose illness Carrie shares. At the airport, Saul meets his wife Mira after an extended trip to India, but she seems noticeably distant.

During his morning jog, Brody is approached by his friend, Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff); although things seem strained between them. Mike tells Brody that the CIA wants to pick him up in about an hour. When Brody returns home, his son, Chris (Jackson Pace) asks him to attend his karate ceremony and Brody half-heartedly promises to do so. As Brody is picked up, he remarks that he's surprised that he wasn't blindfolded, but the agent in the car tells him that they trust him. At the CIA safe house, Carrie reintroduces herself to Brody and subtly hints that they should pretend that this is only their second meeting.

Brody follows Carrie's lead and she shows him Hamid, who is bound in the next room. Brody immediately recognizes him as one of his main captors… someone who brutally beat him and even urinated in his face afterwards. Through a headset, Brody feeds Saul information about his time in custody to catch Hamid off-guard and intimate that the U.S. will protect his family if he cooperates. Saul leaves him a crayon to sign the agreement and a glass of water before leaving him alone in the room. Brody asks for few minutes alone with his former captor, but Carrie politely turns him down. 

After Brody leaves, David congratulates Carrie and Saul on a job well done. Then Carrie waits for Hamid to break as heavy metal music and bright lights go off at irregular intervals to prevent him from sleeping. Back at home, Brody finds it difficult to concentrate on anything but Hamid and he eventually goes to David and requests a face-to-dace confrontation with Hamid to close that chapter of his life. David relents and escorts Brody back to the safe house. Once there, Brody says what he wanted to say to Hamid about not being beaten, when Hamid starts a physical altercation between them. Brody is pulled off of him after landing a few punches and he thanks David as he is led out.

At home, Brody finds Mike eating ice cream with Chris, after his successful attempt to get a blue belt in karate. Brody explains that he was held up in a meeting and he is clearly displeased by Mike's presence and he essentially tells him to leave. Later, Saul is horrified to learn that Hamid has apparently killed himself with a razor blade that was somehow hidden on him… or smuggled to him. When Carrie finds out, she is livid. Because at the same time, Rakim Fizel and his wife have slipped away to parts unknown, as she Virgil (David Marciano) and Max (Maury Sterling) were attempting to spy on him.

Meanwhile, Saul is having problems with his wife as she seems ready to leave him and return to India permanently. So, when Carrie shows up at his door, he's less than pleased to see her intrude on his time. However, she shows him video footage of the fight between Brody and Hamid that conveniently took place in a blindspot; which would have allowed Brody to pass on the blade. She tells him that they have to start alerting David and the agency about Brody's potential threat, but he counters that it would cost Carrie her job because they have nothing concrete. She lays into him about losing his balls and he angrily tells her to leave.

Carrie suffers an emotional breakdown as she packs her office. Finally, she shows up at her sister's house and insists that she's going to quit her job. But as her nieces try to comfort her, Carrie realizes that it is her job to protect them. At Brody's home, he comes upon his son kneeling in prayer and apologizes once again for missing the event before joining his son's bedside prayer.

Breakdown:

I've been holding out hope that most of the series would be about Carrie's mental deterioration in the face of a real terrorist threat other than Brody, but we're certainly meant to believe that Brody slipped Hamid a blade and tipped of Fizel. Of course, this could all turn out to be a giant misdirect if someone other than Brody could have done it. I don't quite buy the fan theories that Saul is the real traitor, even if we learned here that Saul was once a P.O.W. himself and he is apparently well versed in Muslim traditions.

If Brody turns out to be innocent (which I admit, seems unlikely at this point), it would be a pretty bold choice to show that he may have secretly converted to Islam and hidden what he did in captivity out of shame instead of a secret plot. But that seems like it would be a little too subtle for this series.

There was some great reaction shots of Damian Lewis' face as Carrie hinted to Brody that their previous meeting at the support group should be a secret between them. After last week's episode, I came to the conclusion that Carrie would probably even initiate an affair with Brody just as a way of keeping tabs on him. That's still not out of the question, but it's not exactly the healthiest place for someone in Carrie's condition. Even when she's at her most functional, Carrie is basically high strung and held together by her medication. A lot of what Carrie said to Saul was way over-the-line and she didn't seem to pick up on the fact that Saul was having a crisis with his wife when she showed up at his house uninvited.

Of course, Saul himself is no saint and he's been so married to his job that I was surprised that he even had a wife. It may be predictable that Saul and his wife are having problems over his dedication to his calling, but it at least gives us a better understanding of who he is. Even Carrie's mental meltdown was revealing, as the first place she ran to was her sister's home… and even her young nieces seemed to realize that their aunt needed comfort. Carrie may think that it's her duty to protect them, but her family knows that they need to protect Carrie from herself.

The fallout from the death of Hamid should be interesting, as even David can't spin that off as someone missing it while searching the prisoner. Not that I expect this to be the thing that exposes Brody or whoever the traitor might be. This is only the halfway point of the season and "Homeland" is just getting started.

Crave Online Rating: 8.5 out of 10.