Episode Title: "Crossfire"
Writer: Alexander Cary
Director: Tucker Gates
Previously on "Homeland":
At the grocery store, former Prisoner of War, U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) finds that he's missed a lot of things in his captivity; including whatever the hell vitamin water is. He leaves a message for his wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin) shortly before three men attack him in the parking lot. For the briefest of moments, Brody seems like he may be able to fight them off, but they ultimately beat him down and drug him before putting him into the trunk of a car. Meanwhile, CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) returns to the mosque where two men were killed while the FBI was in pursuit of turned POW, Sgt. Tom Walker (Chris Chalk).
Carrie briefly meets with FBI Special Agent Hall (Joe Urla) and he shows her that Walker must have known the mosque layout well to escape so easily. The mosque's Iman (Sammy Sheik) is furious over the deaths of his fellow worshipers and he refuses to aid Carrie's investigation without a formal apology from the FBI with compensation for the victims' families. Elsewhere, Brody is placed in a room and drugged again before he flashes back to three years ago, when Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) brought Brody into his home to be cleaned up and introduced to Nazir's son, Issa (Rohan Chand).
To his surprise, Brody is told that he is there to teach Issa English, no matter how long it takes. At first, Issa is afraid of Brody. But Brody uses his soccer tricks to win over the young boy and he also takes the blame when Issa accidentally knocks over some glasses. Back in the present, Carrie confronts Hall about the allegations made by the Iman that the FBI agents weren't fired upon as they claimed. Hall admits what happened while angrily stating that the FBI will not acknowledge the mistake. Naturally, Carrie has taped the whole exchange and brought it to her superior, David Estes (David Harewood).
But rather than being impressed by Carrie's willingness to burn bridges with the FBI, he orders her to back off and let the FBI do their job. At an impasse, Carrie's mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) suggests that she approach the situation in a different way. Taking his advice, Carrie makes a personal appeal to the Iman and his wife, Zanira (Hend Ayoub). And although the Iman once again refuses to help without an apology, Zanira is shaken by Carrie's warning. Zanira meets Carrie privately and tells her that Walker visited the mosque many times to meet with a man who had diplomatic plates on his car.
In the woods, Walker practices using the high powered sniper riffle he found in the storage locker, left for him by the diplomat, Mr. Sahrani (Ramsey Faragallah). A hunter stumbles across Walker and he is initially impressed by the firepower. However, Walker quickly realizes that the hunter has recognized him from the news and he murders the man just as he tries to drive off. In flashback, we see that Brody eventually bonded with Issa to the point that the young boy came to love him like a father. Brody returned the sentiment until the day that Issa was killed in a U.S. bombing meant to take out Abu Nazir.
In the present, Brody awakens and meets with Nazir via a video conference feed. Brody denounces his time with Nazir as a lie over the deception of Walker's death, but Nazir reminds Brody that the plan was his idea and in the past, we see Brody and Nazir prepare Issa for burial together. In archival footage, we also see Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) deny that any children died in the attempt on Nazir's life. Sahrani tells Brody that Walden will soon send for him and ask him to run for public office. If Brody says yes, Nazir will know that Brody is still committed to their plan.
Brody is then told to leave in his car (which is parked outside). Just as he pulls away, Carrie and Saul arrive outside, having identified Sahrani as the man who met Walker at the mosque. Now they just have to find a way around his diplomatic immunity. Later, Brody arrives home and explains his obvious bruises and injuries to Jessica as a mugging at the supermarket. While she urges him to call the police, he says that he doesn't want the attention. Brody reaffirms his desire to spend time with his family before Jessica tells him that the office of the Vice President left him a voice mail.
In this episode, "Homeland" reframed the terrorist plan of Abu Nazir and Sgt. Brody as a more personal quest for vengeance rather than a plot to destroy America and kill innocent civilians. And there has already been some howling among certain commentators that "Homeland" is blaming the terrorist actions of Nazir and Brody on the United States… because the U.S. has obviously never killed innocents while attempting to take out high value targets… Except when they have.
But this is a Howard Gordon show. He's the one of the writers behind several seasons of "24;" which was praised by the right wing for depicting Jack Bauer using torture to extract information from America's enemies. It may have also been inspiring actual interrogators in Iraq (according to James Cromwell). The point is, I wouldn't put it past the writers of "Homeland" or the character of Abu Nazir to have staged the bombing that killed Issa… or at least leaked the location knowing what the U.S. would do with the information.
Consider this: Nazir told Brody that the plan was his. But what if Brody only thinks it was his idea? The entire sequence with Issa seemed designed to form an emotional connection between Issa and Brody. Hell, that kid may not have even been Nazir's son. Either way, it's clear that Brody personally blames the Vice President for Issa's death and that was the key to securing his cooperation with whatever Nazir has planned.
As for Carrie, I loved that her usual tricks came up empty when she tried to get David on board for blackmailing the FBI into admitting culpability in the mosque shooting. Just the horrified reaction from David was hilarious enough to justify that. As shown by her affair with Brody, Carrie has no qualms about doing anything to get what she wants. After all, what's a little inter-agency blackmail between friends and colleagues?
The present day scenes were pretty taut and compelling, but I didn't really buy the extended flashbacks with Brody and Issa. The bond between them just wasn't very convincing and the entire sequence kind of sidestepped the fact that Brody had two kids of his own back home; whom he didn't seem all that eager to sneak away and get back to. As a fan of Damian Lewis, I almost want to give Brody an out for his behavior. Maybe the drugs given to him by Sahrani are the means of control that Nazir has used to keep Brody committed to their cause. Also, murdering the Vice President seems to be a pedestrian endgame for the season. There has to be more to Nazir's plan than just simple revenge…
Compared to the last two episodes, this is a slight step down in quality. But "Homeland' remains entertaining in its ninth episode; which bodes well for the remaining three.
Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.