Homeland, Season 2

Abu Nazir Is a Terrible Personnel Manager
Talking television.
Oct. 15 2012 11:17 AM

Homeland, Season 2

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Why treat a congressman like an intern?

Nasser Faris as Bassel and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in Homeland.
Nasser Faris as Bassel and Damian Lewis as Nicholas Brody in Homeland

Photo by Bob Leverone/Showtime.

Slate’s commenters are apparently late risers, since they hadn’t shared many thoughts by mid-morning Monday, but the professional TV critics had a lot of fun with Episode 3.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

Several writers dinged the show for giving Rep. Nicholas Brody the task of rescuing the man who made his suicide vest. Writing in Vulture, Matt Zoller Seitz threw down: “Abu Nazir and his minions must be the dumbest terrorists on earth.” Why?

Nazir’s people call Brody on the very afternoon that Brody is getting ready to speak at the fund-raiser for neglected veterans and send him on an errand that, frankly, any yutz with a Chevette could probably do: get the tailor/bomb-maker and spirit him away to a safe house before the CIA can swoop him up. … You’d think maybe Nazir’s people would be worried that, oh, I don’t know, John or Jane Q. Public might see a Congressman driving around with a terrified-looking Middle Eastern man on the day that he was scheduled to speak at a fund-raiser for veterans. But no. They’ve got their own agenda, clearly. An agenda of stoooopid.

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Grantland’s Andy Greenwald also homed in on Abu Nazir’s crazy personnel deployment strategy:

Were a terrorist group actually successful in stashing a true believer at the highest levels of the American government, it would be the height of inefficiency to have him act like an intern-level errand-boy. Stealing the documents from David Estes’s office was one thing—no one else would even be able to enter that room. But ferrying around the murderous tailor of Gettysburg? That was some real ticky-tack, get-me-my-lunch/is-this-radicchio-you-know-I-asked-for-mesclun, Miranda Priestly–type mess. If a United States congressman is your best option for taxi service in Central Pennsylvania, it’s probably time to take some of that “Iranian nuke revenge” money and pour it back into HR. … [W]hich of these two assets is more valuable? I guarantee you, it’s the one who could take out the entire cabinet, not the one able to take in a pair of trousers.

Over at the AV Club, Todd VanDerWerff focused on the episode’s structure: "By telling one story about a very long, very bad day in the lives of its two protagonists, it’s trying to contrast where they start out their days—Carrie with hope, Brody with some semblance of his life coming together—with where they end up—Carrie nearly killing herself, Brody letting his wife down. … It’s a neat structure, but it ends up feeling schematic. I’m always aware just what the writers are trying to do here, and that awareness takes away the immediacy."

Alyssa Rosenberg makes a fascinating point about the contrasting fates of Homeland’s lead characters:

There’s been a significant imbalance, episode by episode, in the quality of Carrie and Brody’s stories. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis continue to work at the top of their game, but while Danes has been given a relatively streamlined storyline that showcases Carrie’s struggles to adjust herself to life without the CIA to provide her an identity, Lewis has been asked to employ his formidable skills in the service of increasingly ridiculous and unsustainable capers. And that’s never been clearer than in "State of Independence."

But Time’s James Poniewozik wins the prize for finding the teachable moment in this week's episode: “Things quality cable dramas have taught us: ladies, if you think your husband is concealing an affair, relax. He’s probably just a meth dealer or a terrorist.”