And it just keeps getting better! Last week’s episode of Homeland was a fantastic opening for the Emmy-winning series’ second season. The second episode, though, took things to a whole new level of awesome. Titled “Beirut Is Back,” the entire 50 minutes is constant anticipation and suspense, putting the characters in dangerous situations that could either go really good or really bad. The writers of Homeland have definitely stepped up their game for the sophomore season and viewers are likely to have a roller coaster ride for the next few months. 

Claire Danes may already be queuing herself up for another Emmy win. In just the first two episodes, she has shown a great range of emotion and depth. Having reunited with Saul in Beirut, Carrie now finds herself immersed once again in the life of a CIA agent and she lets the adrenaline go to her head. After narrowly escaping from some sinister-looking fellows at the end of last week’s episode, Carrie puts herself and others in even greater danger when her contact, Fatima, tells her that her husband will be meeting with Abu Nazir the next day. When Carrie reaches the safe house, she tells Saul what she found out. Saul, still not 100 percent confident in Carrie’s judgment, tells her that Fatima may be lying or misinformed. 

When Carrie and Saul give the information to David Estes, he is immediately reluctant to launch a full operation on the “information” from one very suspicious contact. Since Saul wasn’t with Carrie when she spoke to Fatima, he can’t say whether the information seemed reliable or not. Speaking to David in private, Saul tells him that he didn’t want Carrie to come to Beirut in the first place because he wasn’t (and still isn’t) sure she is emotionally ready to handle this time of pressure. Carrie overhears and has a difficult time processing the fact that her closest friend and mentor doesn’t believe she is capable of doing her job. Well, her former job. 

Back in the States, Brody is continuing to lead a double life as a U.S. Congressman and an agent of Abu Nazir. Still being groomed to run as Vice President, Brody gets more stress put on him when his old friend and fellow Marine Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff) pays him a visit and asks him to look into the death of another man from their unit. You’ll remember at the end of Season One that Walker (who had also been turned by Abu Nazir) provided a diversion for Brody by making it look like he attempted to assassinate Vice President Walden. Brody later killed Walker to clean up any loose ends. Now, Brody has to pretend to be looking into Walker’s death so Mike and the other men from their unit don’t get suspicious about him. 

David Estes decides to go ahead with the mission to take out Abu Nazir based on the information they’ve gotten from Fatima. In probably the most intense and sweat-inducing sequence of the series, we watch the events from the perspectives of 1) Carrie and Saul listening via radio, 2) the CIA operatives on the ground, and 3) Brody in a room with the Joint Chiefs of Staff after being blindsided by VP Walden that the mission was happening at the present moment. Brody has to act fast and surreptitiously  sends a text message warning Abu Nazir. The mission falls apart and no one has any idea why. 

While trying to get Fatima out of the country and to safety, Carrie bolts from the secure SUV that is carrying her in hopes of finding more information in Fatima’s house. While most of the documents she retrieves are useless, Saul finds a hidden video card that contains the file of Brody recording himself “explaining his actions.” Once again a reference to last season, Brody recorded the video so that his side of the story would be told after he detonated an explosive device to take out the VP and president. The last image we see is Saul trying to figure out what the hell he is watching…