[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode. Read at your own risk.]
Well we certainly weren't expecting that.
Homeland continued its second season with an episode that focused mostly on the attempted killing of terrorist Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) as both disgraced CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Marine-turned-U.S. Congressman — and Nazir disciple — Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) watched and listened from their respective corners of the world. For Carrie, the operation was a test to see if Carrie and her informant was still viable. For Brody, who watched the scene play out alongside Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan), it was an exercise in loyalty, as Brody quickly and secretly text-messaged Nazir a coded warning just before the bullets began to fly.
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But it turned out the ultimately unsuccessful assassination plot was just setting the stage for the episode's biggest moment. After sending Carrie and her informant back to the States, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) found an SD card hidden in the lining of a bag that Carrie recovered from her informant's home. And on that SD card? Oh, just the confession video that Brody filmed hours before his planned attempt to kill the vice president and his Cabinet in a suicide mission.
"It turns the whole series on its head," co-creator and executive producer Alex Gansa tells TVGuide.com. That's not just hyperbole. The tape, which mysteriously went missing in the Season 1 finale after Brody decided not to go through with his suicide mission, proves not only that Brody was/is a sleeper agent for Nazir, but also that Carrie was never as crazy as her CIA colleagues may have believed.
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So, um, what happens now? "Does Saul withhold it from [Carrie]? Does he share it with her? You will know the answer at the end of Episode 3," Gansa says. "That's a huge decision to make on his part and it changes the series."
It's exactly that type of internal conflict that helped Gansa & Co. choose to reveal Brody's tape now. But is it too soon? While Gansa acknowledges it's a big piece of the puzzle to solve early in the season, he also feels it's important not to lead on the audience.
"One of the lessons we learned last season was not to hold these muscular plot twists too long," Gansa says. "One of the things the audience knew at the end of the first season is that that tape is going to surface. Brody put it in the hiding place, and when he came back to look for it... he couldn't find it. So, if the audience is expecting it to come to light somehow ... and you postpone it for too long, the audience gets restless and gets upset at the storytelling.
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"It is shocking that it falls into the good guys' hands so early into the process," Gansa continues. "But it sets off a course of events that feels unexpected, even though the audience was expecting it. One of our little secret weapons is just dramatizing these things earlier than you might ordinarily."
Homeland airs Sundays at 10/9c on Showtime. What do you think of the big reveal?
- Carrie Mathison