Well, thank God or Allah or whoever that Brody was merely an illusion—either a product of Carrie not being on her own drugs anymore, or of being on whatever drugs the female ISI agent, Tasleem, gave her. But there was a tiny part of my brain that processed Damian Lewis’ appearance as truth, and wondered for a second if I could continue watching Homeland if indeed he was alive. Yes, the clues were way too foregrounded—Carrie imagining the hospital guard as Peter, firing an imaginary gun—for Brody to have been anything except a fantasy, but still, phew.

And what a better episode leading up to that crazy conclusion, too. The end of last week’s episode left us with essentially a new beginning: The story has become a game of getting Saul back, and the various ways in which that might be accomplished. First off, there’s diplomacy, or maybe better put, “diplomacy.” I’m happy to see Tracy Letts more deeply in the game as Andrew Lockhart, because he’s equally good at being a weasel and a hardass, and I thought it was a bold move for the show to have him put all the cards on the table: The U.S. knows that Pakistani intelligence and the military are sympathetic to the terrorists, and are maybe helping them, and is willing to cut off the cash if Saul isn’t released. (Who knew Saul was that valuable? Is anybody that valuable in shows like this?)

I also really liked that Lockhart was the one insisting on hearing plans for a potential attack on Haqqani’s compound, and that we even got to see a special-ops guy explaining the ups and downs of planning such an attack. What hasn’t really been addressed is that Haqqani took a big chance in assuming that a) the drone would see Saul before the CIA killed him and that b) the CIA would value Saul highly enough to hold back. I was glad to hear Carrie claim that Saul would’ve wanted them to take everybody out with the drone, including him, because I think so, too. You could see it in Saul’s eyes when he was chained to the wall at the end of this hour: He doesn’t want to be a bargaining chip that gets terrorists released.

And even the Duck Phillips: International Man Of Mystery storyline is starting to take a little better shape. His swapping of Carrie’s pills had a major impact on the story, though I half-expected Quinn to catch him in Carrie’s apartment, because Quinn isn’t the type of superspy who goes into an apartment and doesn’t immediately detect an intruder. And now Duck apparently has his semi-estranged wife on board, at least in some way.

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Another great moment: Saul’s visit to Haqqani’s compound. I like that Homeland, unlike its dumber yet still likable younger brother 24, is actually pretty good at humanizing bad guys. Haqqani has a wife and kids, and though he’s dedicated to a murderous cause, he misses them. But it’s not all sympathy for the devil, as Saul takes him to task (“You have taught an entire generation to live with one foot in the afterlife”) while they eat. Sure, it’s a very Hollywood distillation of the situation, but Homeland is better at making it at least seem less black and white than most.

And then… the drugs, the earthquake-cam, and the hallucinations. That was pretty damn soapy, sure, but handled in a way that built some crazy suspense. I believed for a minute that Carrie shot those thugs in the street, and wondered where the show could take her from there. The answer: straight into Khan’s arms. Do we know what side he’s on yet? He hasn’t been visibly complicit in the dealings between Agent Tasleem and Duck Phillips, and surely somebody on the Pakistani side of things will eventually disagree with the behind-the-scenes intrigue, won’t they? Perhaps he’ll become an ally, or at least let Carrie crash at his swank pad until she can flush whatever crazy dope they gave her out of her system. As much as several episodes of head-tripping Carrie might be fun, it’d be better to get her clear-headed and finding Saul before he’s used as a bargaining chip for baddies.

Stray observations:

  • I thought Lockhart would’ve agreed with Carrie on killing Saul, but he was opposed to it with a curt “Thank Christ.”
  • R.I.P. Aayan: “Go ahead, say it. I sent him to his death.” “We all did.”
  • “Praise God for sending me a human shield.”
  • “Saul would’ve agreed if he’d had the chance… He’d put a bullet in his own brain if he could.” Do we need to worry about Saul committing suicide if the prisoner transfer gets too close?
  • “If Christianity is to be judged by the misery it has caused mankind, who would ever be a Christian?” “I’m a Jew.”
  • What’s up with Haqqani keeping Saul in the same room where he’s having sex with his wife? Power play, or some kind of Showtime mandate for butt?
  • Gotta keep the Quinn/Carrie fire alive even when they’re not in a real scene together—she yells at the hallucination-Peter, “Because you care for me!?”
  • Holy shit, that monkey during Carrie’s freakout was scary, as was the fly in her cell.

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