Got your breath back yet? This year's second episode, 'Beirut is Back', had me wobbling on my sofa with my whole body turned to jelly as writer Chip Johannessen gave us a thrilling episode from start to finish, oh and what a finish. The slow build up of tension last season has been dispelled this time as Abu Nazir finally made his 'true' entrance, and the truth about Brody appears to have been discovered.
"I have never been so sure, and so wrong."
Carrie managed to evade her pursuers at the end of 'The Smile' and has now decided to fly solo and contact Fatima herself. The news she hears is almost too good to be true, as it's revealed Abu Nazir is coming to town. The fictional al-Qaeda leader who Carrie has spent her career trying to find will be just down the road from where she's based in Beirut. The prize is finally in sight, but little does she know that Brody is in the way to stop the CIA. If the first episode was all about getting Carrie and Brody back in the game, this week showed us how good they are at playing the game, and why they're here to stay.
For such an asphyxiating episode, the setting in Beirut (though shot in Israel) really allows the show to breathe. The danger is more acutely realised, as we see Saul holed up in the safehouse, unable to scour for Carrie in amongst the sprawling medina. Carrie excitedly arrives to tell Saul the good news, but he immediately criticises her for breaking protocol. His concern for Carrie is more than just work-related. He knows every minute she spends tangled in the web of the CIA is jeopardising her mental recovery, and isn't sure after the Brody 'mistake' that she can be trusted. Carrie agrees saying, "I have never been so sure, and so wrong. And it's that fact that I still can't get my head around. It makes me unable to trust my own thoughts. Every time I think I see something clearly now it just disappears."
The Carrie we see now, broken down by the CIA's lack of faith in her convictions, is a loose cannon whose memory is failing and who fears she has lost her judgment. But the Carrie back then was confident, acute and determined to hunt down the agency's targets. It's this Carrie that she asks Saul to trust, rather than her current state. "The way I am now, I wouldn't trust me either. But the Carrie who recruited her, that one I believe." Showing the faith he once held in her friend, Saul gives the takedown of Nazir the green light.
"I'm not your guy."
As the CIA continues to use Carrie in Lebanon, Brody is beginning to feel political pressure back home. His friends want him to unearth the truth about Walker, his wife wants him to play up his political image by hosting a fundraiser, and to top it all off he's having to deal with a Vice-President so vindictive and conniving that you'd wished he'd gone through with his initial plan to blow him up. Walden notes that Israel's carpet bombing didn't hit all of the Iraqi nuclear sites, and wants Brody to lean on the secretary of Defence to see more aggressive action is taken in the region.
This pressuring to meet with White House chiefs nicely sets up Brody to be just in time to witness the CIA's attempted assassination of Abu Nazir. Brody's usefulness as a mole is proven as he covertly texts a warning message just in time for Nazir to duck from the US snipers. He points out this is far from a cosy situation when he tells Roya Hammad, "I cannot be texting secret messages when I'm surrounded by the joint chiefs". Moving up the echelons of power has just increased the burden Brody faces from all sides, as his friends, family and associates want to exploit his position to help their own ends. Brody knows that he can't please everyone, and that sooner or later all this attention will leave him exposed.
"I wanted to explain myself, so that you know the truth."
And of all he people to expose Brody, it's fitting that it's Carrie that finally manages it, even if inadvertently. In a moment of headstrong recklessness, she insists that Fatima's husband must have some useful information at his apartment. Her rush into the house doesn't go unnoticed, and soon a Hezbollah horde pursues her. In far greater jeopardy than last week, now she's evading gunfire and takes one man out with a breezeblock. Saul is infuriated by her actions, seeing it as another reason why Carrie can't be trusted out in the field any more. But when he pores over what she retrieved and discovers a memory card with Brody's pre-recorded suicide confession video, he realises Carrie has uncovered an incredible piece of evidence.
To say this changes everything is beyond understatement. Up until this point Carrie had been the lone voice speaking out against Brody, swimming against the monumental tide of opinion against her. Now that Saul is aware of Brody's hidden agenda, the game seems to be back on. But how will Saul use this newfound information? Will he show Carrie and tell her she was right all along, even though he wants to keep her away from CIA involvement. How will Brody react if he realises that the CIA are scrutinising him along with those in the White House. In her darkest moment, Carrie has shone the spotlight back on Brody. The next few episodes are going to be intense.