Last week I said that Homeland was at its best when its characters are suffering like a Lego man being chewed by a five-year old. This week it seems our mythical five-year old has got some friends around to play, as almost all the characters are tortured throughout the running time.

Naturally, mental illness and its effects are the primary torture weapon. The main sufferer is Carrie. It is heartbreaking to watch our main character pulled deeper and deeper into a hole it’s not clear whether she’ll ever make it out of. What makes it worse is the way she rejects anyone who’s trying to help or protect her, although to be fair that’s not entirely surprising given the fact that some people– looking at you Saul – seem to be effectively using a missile launcher to unblock a drain, to the extent that it’s impossible not to cheer when she says ‘fuck you’ to him at the end of the episode.

The director does a brilliant job of putting the viewer into Carrie’s head during these scenes, something that’s quite difficult to achieve in a such a visual medium. The pulsing camera technique during the psychiatric hearing gives you a sense of the pressure she is feeling – although to be fair it’s Claire Danes who’s doing most of the work!

Contrasting with Carrie’s illness is the ongoing fallout from Dana Brody’s attempted suicide. Morgan Saylor’s performance is pitch perfect, particularly the way she switches from teenage anger to child-like innocent to grown up awareness of the world around her every few minutes. I’m still worried about her choice in boyfriends though. Last year sex killed people, this year we’ve got risky sex in launderettes which is almost as bad. They’re lucky those sheets were dry or they’d have caught their death. Dana’s speech about who is and isn’t crazy is a true ‘hell yeah!’ moment summing up everything the family have had to go through since the world believed Brody blew up the CIA. The fact that it finally made her mum, (Firefly’s Monica Baccarin) understand what she’s been going through is an added bonus.

Even new characters can’t escape the Homeland torture chamber. This week, we were introduced to CIA analyst Fara Sherazi (Nazanin Boniadi), who is unlucky enough to be both baby-faced and Muslim – two traits that don’t go down well in the CIA, something that Saul is quick to point out. Luckily Fara is damn good at her job and, with a bit of help from Quinn, moves the whole bomber investigation further forward in a day then the rest of the CIA has managed in three months! In your face, Saul.

Speaking of Quinn, the writers are giving him a soul. How can you tell? People keep using his first name. Characters without souls don’t have first names! He’s supposed to be playing a bastard who doesn’t give a damn about what people think. Now he is going to visit Carrie in hospital and threatening to resign on morality grounds. Next he’ll be rescuing kittens from trees and helping out ladies cross the street.Having said that, it seems not all of the bastard is dead quite yet: if you ever need to threaten a bank manager then Quinn is your man.

Again no Brody this week beyond some horrific photographs. Ginger curtains was, has and never will be a good look. I hope he is back soon as he needs to defend his character against the twin accusations of being a terrorist AND having terrible taste in hair styles.

Mole of the Week Award: A bit of stretch this week but we discover that our evil bankers (are there any other kind?) have been moving money from terrorists to someone else. I think it is safe to assume this ‘someone else’ is the CIA’s pet mole.

Evil Moustache Twirling of the Week: As he only ever seems to play villains this isn’t a surprise, but boy does F. Murray Abraham make a great slime ball. The only thing missing is the moustache itself…though that’s probably a good thing or he’d have twirled it into a pair of matching ringlets by now.]]>