Terrorist intrigue takes a back seat to soap opera on this week's "Homeland." As we've seen before, this can be either very good (Carrie and Brody's hedonistic jaunt in season one) or very bad (pretty much any other time). This week it happens to be a bit of both.
Domestic catastrophe has Brody on edge, caught between his loyalties to his family and his deal with the CIA. Not a good idea to send your inside man on a critical meeting when he's teetering on the brink, as Brody abruptly tells Roya Hammad he's out.
Carrie ducks surveillance and takes Brody off the grid in order to repair his shattered nerve. The episode goes a long way toward getting across the solitude that Brody finds himself overwhelmed by everyday. The deal he has cut with the CIA to avoid criminal charges and help repair his family has only torn it apart further with lies, he doesn't want any part of Abu Nazir's terrorist plot, and now his actions have only served to sever ties with the CIA. Carrie remains his only link to where he wants to be, the only person to whom he can confide fully, and the two finally reignite their affair.
Unfortunately, the CIA is listening to everything. Each episode of "Homeland" lately has had a scene of unintentional, head-slappingly absurd comedy. As Carrie is getting pounded, we cut to the most epic Saul facepalm ever. Saul attempts to plead Carrie's case. "She's turning it around!" he exclaims, as Carrie and Brody are heard moaning on the surveillance line. Again, "Homeland"'s writers are capable of such great characterization and then they throw these bizarre scenes in that seem completely out of place.
Meanwhile, after getting cop-blocked by her dad and Carrie, Dana goes to Mike to get away from her parents. She draws a little inspiration from Mike doing the right thing and stepping aside when Brody returned despite being firmly entrenched with Jess and the family at that point. Confession to the hit-and-run victim's daughter doesn't help much, as Dana learns that the Walden's deal is in place and going to the police would mean their financial settlement is off the table.
The past few episodes have not done well for the image of "Homeland." While the first season had a few bad moments, overall it was a stellar series with a gripping story full of twists. This season started on a high note with a lot of promise of things to come but has given way to a lot of absurdity and soap opera silliness. Hopefully with the latest twist the writers can rebound, but as the weeks go by I grow less and less confident of that.