Since it premiered in the Fall of 2011, Homeland has unleashed episode after episode of heart-stopping and sweat-inducing action. The writers are brilliantly adept at misleading viewers and reversing plot directions midseason to avoid possible monotony or repetition. Last night’s episode, though, was a rare misfire in the show’s brief history. “A Gettysburg Address” is a typical “filler episode” which is commonplace for most other series. Homeland, however, has managed to avoid these necessary-but-boring expository installments until now. The episode has very little action and only serves to move the plot forward.
With an opening that could have been a tremendous homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, the episode’s first ten minutes drag on as Carrie and Peter set up a surveillance operation in hopes of catching Roya Hammad making contact with another Abu Nazir agent. The meeting happens, but background noise and poor coverage prevents them from hearing or recording anything of value. The unknown contact manages to get away without someone tailing him, leaving the CIA with little more than they had prior to the operation.
This leads to one of the most unrealistic moves so far in the series. Carrie says that they have to use Brody (who is working for the CIA now) to make contact with Roya to find out who she was speaking with. If we know one thing about Abu Nazir’s operations, it’s that protocol and routine are NOT to be upset for any reason. The idea that Brody would break that unwritten rule by contacting Roya himself would be a red flag to her and Nazir that he can no longer be trusted.
Along the same vein, Brody’s cooperation with the CIA seems a little false. If he was still as dedicated to Nazir as he claims to be, he would tell them everything he knows up front. As is, he is letting little details slip out here and there. Likewise, if he was truly loyal to Nazir, he would be doing everything he could to throw the CIA off any possible scent relating to Nazir’s plans. The middle road he is currently walking just doesn’t work and becomes less and less believable with each episode.
A couple of the show’s subplots get lukewarm treatments as well, moving the plot along at a glacial pace. Dana struggles with the fact that she was in the car when Finn accidentally hit a woman and then left the scene. When she visits the hospital out of guilt, she finds out the woman has died. Finn is less than sympathetic about the news, more concerned about his father’s presidential chances. This storyline could be excised entirely from the show.
We do get to see Mike Faber getting closer to the truth about Brody’s involvement in the death of their former friend and another Nazir operative. Mike seems unable to give up the search and when Brody finds out he is getting warm, there will likely only be one way for the conflict to end.