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'Homeland' recap, 'Uh...Oh...Ah...'

Everyone in episode two was acting like someone else, with Carrie imitating Jack Nicholson in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," Dana emulating Claire Danes in "Romeo + Juliet" and Saul impersonating his own murdered boss and Carrie’s nemesis, David Estes.

Let’s recap. Carrie is in a full-blown mania: paranoid, angry, reckless and loud, loud, loud. She tries to tell “her side” of the story to the press, but the reporter she’s sought out looks skeptical of the lady yelling about covert ops and CIA double-dealing. Three cops saunter into the newsroom saying that someone (Saul) has requested that Carrie be detained for psychiatric evaluation, implying that she is considered to be a threat to herself or others.

Incredulous, Carrie tries to defend herself, but she’s not very convincing. Her appearance and behavior are so unhinged that no one can take her seriously. Even her sister and father realize that spilling state secrets in a manic pique is a terrible idea.

After refusing treatment and attempting to bolt from her commitment hearing, Carrie is forcibly injected with Thorazine, an old-school anti psychotic medication with terrible sedating effects. Beached like Nicholson’s McMurphy in front of a hospital TV when Saul finds her during visiting hours, Carrie issues a deliberate, well-earned epithet to her former mentor.

While Carrie spends the episode trying to break out of a psychiatric unit, Dana is desperate to re-enter the cushy private treatment center where her therapists are sympathetic and that cute boy is still convalescing from his own (still unexplained) mental health crisis. In a cruel trick, she disappears from the bath, making us think she has hurt herself again. Instead, she’s snuck back to the facility to see her guy.

Their laundry room reunion is so romantic and stylized that I was instantly reminded of Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio rolling in white sheets as the young stars of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 "Romeo + Juliet." Confirming the reference, Dana reveals that this boy’s name is Leo, too.

When Jess finally finds her daughter and drags her home, Dana has some harsh but necessary words for her mother. Brody ruined their lives, she says, so stop pretending that he never existed or acting like it’s crazy to be so angry.

At Langley, Saul is following some vague leads that tie the CIA bombing to Iranian associates of Abu Nazir, but he’s making Estes’ old mistake of ordering his subordinates to produce intelligence that confirms his preconceived theories.

Fara, a young CIA recruit with a headscarf and a slight accent, is put to work deciphering the banking transactions recorded on the laptop Quinn recovered from his mission in Caracas. She discovers that the alleged terrorists have been transferring money through a New York-based bank, and Quinn intimidates the bankers into turning over everything they have. I’m interested, I guess, but it’s hard to get excited about this line of inquiry – when will it all connect back to Brody, or someone else we care about?

Despite the dryness of the post-bombing investigation, I like the atmosphere of pervasive paranoia that the "Homeland" writers continue to cultivate. In my notes, all of our CIA contacts are now wildcards. Between Quinn, Saul, Dar Adal and Carrie, I honestly don’t know whom to trust.

Finally, what should we make of the film references? Are these just Easter eggs for film-buff viewers, or are the writers giving us clues about what’s ahead for these characters? If so, the allusions don’t bode well for Carrie and Dana: in both "Cuckoo’s Nest" and "Romeo + Juliet," the protagonists die at the end.

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