There seems to be a consensus that Season 2 Homeland hasn’t quite hit the heights of Season 1, and the penultimate episode showed why, but also that despite this it has still proved entertaining.
The episode started off with confusion, Saul in trouble and Carrie stuggling to escape Abu Nazir’s Mill of doom with Claire Danes looking like a startled meerkat with a penchant for power dressing.
Swiftly we found out that Abu Nazir had managed to vanish from under the nose of Quinn and a small army and that Saul, who resembled a thoughtful badger captured by a Jeremy Kyle cult, was going to have to do lie detectors until he lost the will to live and not disclose Estes' plan to dispose of Brody.
In many ways In Memoriam showed the best and worst of this season, with the Abu Nazir storyline that lit up Season 1 coming to an unsatisfactory conclusion that merely served to remind us how much more interesting he was when he was a terrorist bogeyman rather than a close at hand character.
One scene in particular summed up why Homeland has gone from Emmy winningly unmissable to just another watchable drama; Carrie’s working out that a man like Nazir wouldn’t have just run away into the woods.
Last season she’d have worked out from jazz based intuition, a crazy Carrie hunch and the fact he always disappeared from under the CIA’s nose that Nazir was too clever to run. Here we had to have a Eureka moment that turned what should’ve been this season’s key scene into a spy movie cliché. It was something that even the admittedly enjoyable reverse of Roya's resistence to interrogation coudn't make up for.
However in this episode Homeland also showed why it is still a more than emiently watchable and thrilling drama.
The disintegration of Brody’s family (I’m slightly scared Dana may turn into a grungy Carrie), the corrupt office politics of Langley, and the fact that almost every main character, even the originally straight laced Quinn and Estes, now has a dark burden hanging over them, meant that apart from Nazir we could focus on Homeland's real strong human drama.
Brody in particular has seen those who tore him apart, Walden and Nazir, finally out of his life, but cannot escape their influence and damage.
In perhaps tonight’s most perfect scene we saw the final admission, after two seasons of lies, stress and wall thumping Carrie-sex, that he and Jessica have no future, that being truthful isn’t a cure any more, so broken is their relationship.
Finally In Memoriam ended with Brody and Carrie, two deeply scarred individuals with pasts they can’t escape, drawn to each other once more.
All this sets up next week’s finale well, in which we’ll surely discover just how deep the wounds of the past two seasons are, with the tiny complication that the CIA officially wants one of our two leads dead, and unofficially wouldn't mind if the other one ended up joining Saul wired up to his never ending polygraph or worse.