It’s pretty clear at this point that Homeland has managed to put itself in such a position that, come the season 2 finale, it will either pull all of these threads together in a distinct and satisfying way, or it will prove the naysayers right and ‘Broken Hearts’ will stand out as the moment of no return for the series. And yet, despite all of this credulity straining and the plot issues that cause viewers to claim they’re jumping ship week after week, there’s something still inherently enticing about watching these characters react to their situations that has yet to get old, even if some of the series’ elements have begun to wear thin.

There are plenty of head-shaking moments in the episode; the most readily apparent is the kidnapping of Carrie (Claire Danes) by Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), in a move that’s been seen in so many movies and television shows before, one would think by virtue of it being in a series like Homeland would force it to be handled as a joke, but sadly that would not prove to be the case. Still, as much as we’ve seen the bad guy hold someone hostage in a dilapidated warehouse while forcing another to do his bidding via threatening phone calls – or in this case POV Skype video calls – there hasn’t been much of that going on in Homeland before now. So, for the sake of ‘Broken Hearts,’ it’s worth sitting through the ordeal just to see how the characters react with one another.

Not surprisingly, Nazir has tête-à-tête with Carrie while waiting for Brody (Damian Lewis) to carry out his new mission, and the conversation naturally turns to how each side of the conflict views the other as the initial transgressor. Like the situation, the dialogue isn’t the most original thing that the series has done, but as the series has proven time and again, it succeeds in delivering a dramatic moment. As far as the show is concerned this is a major moment where Carrie is occupying the same space as the man who’s eaten up as much (if not more) of her sanity as Brody. To her credit, Carrie doesn’t flinch, even though both she and Brody agree that regardless if he wins or loses in this situation, Nazir is going to kill her.

The situation, of course, is that Nazir has found a way (apparently thanks to the New York Times) to wirelessly manipulate Vice President Walden’s (Jamey Sheridan) pacemaker with the help of a terrorist computer whiz and a serial number located in Walden’s office. It’s as preposterous a notion as anything that’s come before this season on Homeland, and smacks of Brody’s first mission to break into Estes’ (David Harewood) office at the beginning of season 2, but as before, the follow through manages to deliver a substantial character moment for both Brody and Walden – even if it will prove to be the vice president’s last.

There’s a touch of relief and victory in Brody’s reaction to watching the VP clutch his chest and go into cardiac arrest that when he plays his hand, and reveals his true nature to Walden, it’s more than just a man assisting in the very bizarre assassination of a political figure, it’s a culmination of everything Brody’s alliance with Abu Nazir stood for in the first place. It’s a side of Brody the audience always new was there, but it feels especially cold and uncompromising in this moment.

As strange a fit as the damsel in distress plot was to Homeland, the increasing likelihood that this is all a big government conspiracy involving David Estes, Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) and possibly Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) is the more uncomfortable moment late in season 2. Carrie being held hostage while Nazir works to assassinate the VP via some computer code, makes for an episode that serves the plot with some minor, but effective character moments, and can be forgiven in the grand scheme of things. But a nefarious twist better suited to different television animals could wind up changing the name of the game on a far more permanent basis.

Hopes are still high that the writers have something remarkable up their sleeves, but with just two episodes left, there is still a lot of ground to cover before those concerns are properly diminished.

Various other items:

  • We see less of the entire Brody clan this week, but out of all of them, it’s Chris’ (Jackson Pace) hangdog expression when his dad abruptly cancels their card game that’s most effective.
  • Meanwhile, the relationship between Dana (Morgan Saylor) and Finn (Timothee Chalamet) has officially fizzled out – but Dana comparing the death of their burgeoning love to that of the woman they hit with Finn’s car seemed like an appropriately tacky thing for a confused teenager to do.
  • Awesome old guy spin-off idea: Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Dar Adal team up to stop terrorists through sheer crankiness and wistfully remember the Cold War over a plate of waffles every week.
  • Did Quinn’s reaction to Danny Galvez (Hrach Titizian) showing up have anything to do with Quinn’s role in the larger plot, or was he just excited to see the guy?

Homeland continues next Sunday with ‘The Mother****er With a Turban’ @10pm on Showtime. Check out a preview of the episode below: