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Homeland Watch: Season 1, Episode 5 - Blind Spot

The fifth episode of Showtime's Homeland is called 'Blind Spot,' a phrase that harkens back to earlier in the series when Carrie's personal surveillance of Brody failed to include the garage, which fortunately for him, is where most of his suspicious activities take place. With Carrie's cameras and mics removed, Brody may be free to do as he pleases at home but this week finds him pulled into the central investigation and face to face with his former prison guard (and fellow Jihadist?) at a CIA safe house.

"Enjoy. Drive safe. And fuck the CIA."

As part of the Central Intelligence Agency's ongoing investigation into Abu Nazir, the show opens with a raid on an apartment complex in Islamabad that depicts a super rad prisoner extraction. The elite operatives are able to sneak in and out, prisoner in hand without making much of a stir and the man they extract happens to be the only survivor of the operation that resulted in Brody's rescue - yes, the man is Brody's former guard, torturer and all around nasty guy. This mission is cross-cut with the Marine Sergeant continuing to practice Islam in his garage. I wonder if they are suggesting something?

We first see Carrie paying a visit to her sister's house, mostly because she's low on pills, but instead of her sister she finds her father. After a moments hesitation, perhaps debating whether to slip away unnoticed, her father (James Rebhorn, awesome) spies her spying on him and she's forced to engage. They are pretty polite with each other and dance around the topic of their shared mental illness. It's a nice character moment and allows Carrie to lift a few pills from his prescription but they don't have much time together as Carrie soon gets the call to head in to work. Saul gets a similar call to come in and too bad for him, because he's at the airport picking up his cliche, sorry, his significant other, Mira, who's coming back from a 'vacation' at her parent's in India.

"The CIA wants to see me."

Estes tells the fully assembled group that they have just got their hands on Brody's former guard and that Carrie and Saul will be conducting the interrogation.... with Brody. The pair obviously cannot fully express their concerns with the Marine Sergeant sitting in on the interrogation but that doesn't stop Carrie from trying her hardest to argue against it, first with Estes and then with Saul. It's all in futility but Saul reminds her of the silver lining, that at least they will be able to watch Brody and how he handles the high stress situation, especially high stress if he's part of the same cell as this Affy. There is also the wrinkle of Carrie 'bumping into' him last week but she handles that with her quick greeting (although the two of them alone and on the extra-curricular is super intriguing) when he arrives at the CIA safe house.

However, before Brody arrives he has to be summoned, and by who else but his best buddy Mike. Mike interrupts Brody's morning jog to inform him that the CIA would like to see him. This doesn't look like it sits too well with Brody, especially on the car ride in when he is still unaware of why they want him to come. He soon finds out and when he's shown Affy in custody, ready to be interrogated, and he bursts out in seemingly genuine surprise and hatred (I think it was, "motherfucking shit" before a few involuntary flashbacks of the man hitting Brody with a barb-wire bat and urinating on him). Now Carrie informs him of why he's there, to provide Saul with information in order to gain the upper hand during questioning.

This is a great scene for Mandy Patinkin. He opens it with a kiss before shooting one of the most intimidating glares imaginable at the prisoner, like he's looking right through him. The back and forth between Brody and Saul with Carrie facilitating and narrating the whole exchange is fascinating to watch, especially with the fine acting on display. This sequence is one of the most memorable in an already unforgettable series. Brody does his best to help and hold back his emotions but he when it's all over he cannot help but ask for the chance to face his former tormentor face-to-face. Of course, Carrie is unable to acquiesce this request due to operational security but she does pass along her card (extra-curriculars?). The second that the he leaves, Carrie immediately wants surveillance back on Brody - if she had her way, they would have never stopped - but Saul reminds her that they can't, they have no new evidence.

"Don't go there Carrie. Be patient."

Despite Carrie's concerns that this would be the perfect time to be watching him, not much out of the ordinary is happening at the Brody household this week. I mean, there's still family drama but no suspicious activities. He agrees to attend his son's karate ceremony and has a cup of awkward silence with Jess, who cut her hair short so it would be the way he used to like it. something he almost notices. At least he's having better luck with his lady this week than Saul is with Mira. We didn't even know she existed before this weekm and I kind of wish she still didn'tm because the disgruntled significant other who's sick of their spouse's spy/cop/whatever lifestyle is a little tired. The show handles it well, mostly thanks to Patinkin and the actress playing Mira but I could have done without. It's an attempt to flesh out Saul a little more but I kind of liked his mysterious mentor instead of this more cliched character development.

The second or third time that the recently reunited couple is interrupted (straws on the camel's back) happens because the sensory torture seems to have worked on Affy, who has finally reached for the crayon they left behind. He offers up a bunch of names in exchange for his family's safety but the real jewel is an email address that leads them back to Professor Faisel. After a little creative work by Virgil and his 'part moron or just doing it to piss him off' brother, they are able to locate the recently purchased place by the airport and set up surveillance. However, while this is going on - keeping Carrie and Saul busy - Brody pays Estes a visit and once again requests time with his former guard. This time his ploy is successful and the meeting, well, it doesn't go so well, with a tussle breaking out after some spitting in the face occurs.

Brody arrives home to find out that he missed his karate kid (but Mike didn't - he's such a good guy) while Carrie and Saul get to find out that Affy killed himself with a tiny razor blade. Now, how did the prisoner who went through numerous strip searches suddenly get a hold of a tiny razor blade? Well, it might have happened when Brody payed him a visit which resulted in them rolling around on the ground in the camera's blind spot (episode title!). He was shaving right before paying Estes that visit. That is certainly Carrie's theory when she arrives at Saul's late that night and right in the middle of Mira dumping him... not the most opportune time to call someone a pussy. The official statement is that Affy snuck the razor in his shoes, but we were very carefully shown his sneakers and how thoroughly investigated they looked. Carrie returns to her place rocked by feelings of isolation, abandonment and helplessness. She breaks down and has no choice but to head to her sister's for comfort

"That's my job."

The episode with the very intense interrogation in the middle ends on a much more somber note with Carrie at her sister's being talked down from quitting over a glass of wine and Brody wandering into his son's room to apologize for missing out on him getting his blue belt. Carrie's sister calms her down and even convinces her to spend the night. Soon she's joined by both her nieces in an bed that's way too small for the three of them. Brody ends up beside his boy, kneeling in prayer together. Unable to sleep Carrie wakes and wakes up the younger of the nieces. In perhaps the corniest moment of the series (but I'll allow it because it's well earned), Carrie reassures the young girl not to be too afraid of the bad guys who blow things up because it's her job to keep them safe. Something about her comments over the course of the series and the way she's sitting in silence on the dark stairs at the end tells me that she's hasn't always been successful keeping her loved ones safe. Another gripping and very well written episode as we cross the halfway point and head to next week. With only three left, the clock is ticking.

Homeland airs on Showtime, Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT. It stars Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin and Morena Baccarin.