[Hi, friends. It’s been an emotionally exhausting week and we…

[Hi, friends. It’s been an emotionally exhausting week and we didn’t want to miss out on the chance to highlight some of the truly visually stunning shots of this episode. But! The prospect of doing a regular write-up was… daunting, to say the least. So we’re going more casual this week. –Sara]

“Chalk Two Down” | Directed by Alex Graves, Cinematography by Giorgio Scali

Sara: This is a whip pan. For some reason my brain wanted to say “zoom.” Remember Zoom on PBS? Anyway there was a lot of handheld cam this week. We don’t need to tell you what that means.

Gail: I really love how the lighting has been used to show who is in the dark and who is not. In this instance, Max has no clue what has happened, but what I love about Max is how he immediately jumps in to help.

Sara: Sorry, but this shot of Saul, Mike, Carrie, and Owens is hysterical. This looks like the cover of the debut album of a new rap group called Carrie and the Homies. Gail, what would their album be called?

Gail: “Sabotage” – or is that a little too on the nose??

Gail: G’ulom is no longer playing the game and that is made clear when the camera pans to show him with his back literally turned on the United States.

Sara: G’ulom is a baddie and I’m here for that. Love that he’s not facing the front here. He could not give fewer fucks!! 

Gail: I love all of the perspective shots throughout this episode. This shot from above Max adds weight to his realization that he very easily could have been on that helicopter.

Sara: Poor Max.

Sara: As Gail so astutely pointed at, as the episode progresses, Saul retreats farther and farther back in the ops room. 

Gail: I’d call this album “Royally Screwed.”

Sara: Major LOST vibes!! 

Gail: Yes! Let’s hope Max finds the hatch! (But seriously, another great perspective shot.)

Gail: I’m going to need Beau Bridges on a weekly comedy where he smiles, warmly, all of the time. Desperate times, people.

Sara: I will miss you, Beau! Lots of things were blood-stained this week. 

Sara: After they announce Beau is dead, they start shooting Hayes in these big close-ups. Lots of great reactions from Sam Trammell this week. He’s hot and he’s in over his head. 

Gail: Where’s Sookie?

Gail: I love that the two VP’s had such different reactions  Hayes is nervous, shaken and takes off in a pretty weak attempt at a Saul walk to hide in his office. 

Sara: More shaky cam in the West Wing. Uncertainty of the moment, etc. etc.

Sara: IJLTP.

Gail: By contrast, G’ulom is focused, strategic and decisive, giving orders and any semblance of a friendly facade is gone. 

Sara: We love a good walk and talk.

Gail: Ugh, Tasneem.

Sara: They so shady.

Sara: Homeland already explained the meaning of the mural but I also thought this might have been a tongue-in-cheek reference to the season five graffiti incident. Like, “Hi, here we are, paying attention to graffiti for once.” Just me?

Gail: Yes. But also does this look like Tommy Chong to you? Is Alex Gansa a (secret?) Cheech and Chong fan?

Sara: PERISCOPES

Sara: I don’t even think I know what a Rolaid is. More blood on his speech. Beau–or whichever production assistant penned this speech–has nice handwriting. 

Gail: Rolaids are like Tums. I love the details throughout Homeland episodes. Maybe Max can use these as breadcrumbs for Carrie to help find him?

Gail: Another great perspective shot. It also illustrates their perilous position – they do not have the higher ground and that does not bode well for them.

Sara: This shot is so eerie. This mountainside was too quiet.

Sara: I loved this moment when the rock rolls down the mountain. First, it was funny and this episode (and all other Homeland episodes) greatly needed comic relief. But it was also a weirdly literal representation of a trickle-down effect. I really loved it. 

Gail: The choreography of these scenes was so realistic and the quietness of this specific scene is literally the calm before the storm of Taliban fighters down the mountain.

Sara: The way they shot Carrie’s reaction to learning the president was dead felt unique. It’s like we’re eavesdropping on the moment. 

Gail: Have I mentioned how much I LOVED the perspective shots this episode?

Gail: Alpha Mike has arrived.

Sara: Mister Big Boy Mike finally asserts himself! Saul can choke.

Gail: Another great perspective shot paired with another great use of a silent moment in this scene. I wonder if it was intentional to have the shadow of the President’s desk looming just above him in this frame?

Sara: Ooh, good point! Also, another whip pan. Hayes walking around his office alone while everyone is freaking out feels weirdly relevant to our current cultural moment.

Sara: Homie is a MESS. 

Gail: IJLTP.

Sara: God, this body language. Again, Saul can choke. 

Gail: Saul has moved even farther back in the room and down the totem pole. Carrie seems to be the only one with Saul’s back. Does he have hers?

Sara: This reaction from Carrie here reads as total betrayal. Saul just sulks and is so defeated, but Carrie never gives up. I LOVE YOU, CARRIE. 

Gail: Carrie’s tenacity and resilience are on full display here as she LOOKS OVER HER SHOULDER at Saul. 

Gail: 1) IJLTP. 2) Another perspective shot, one of my favorites from this episode. 3) Max is in the dark as he tries to quickly find and remove the orange black box. But light is making its way through… hope that is intentional foreshadowing and not ominous that Max’s nine lives have run out.

Gail: The pop of color the orange but really red looking black box gives this shot is gorgeous and sad. So much blood spilled in the time it took to get it. Will it be worth it?

Sara: What an unforgettable shot. You can hear the bomb hiss overhead. 

Sara: These three homies just stand there, emotionless. You can see the flash from the bomb illuminate their faces, ever so briefly. 

Gail: The bomb blows up in their faces. Literally.

Gail: Unlike Saul, President Hayes ended this episode standing in the front of the room very much in charge.

Sara: This is our president, folks! Don’t you feel safe?

Sara: I stan this crane shot. 

Gail: More silence.

Sara: I can’t believe I’m saying this but poor Haqqani??? I hate this show.

Sara: The difference between Carrie and Saul here is striking. Carrie sits up, face forward. Saul is hunched over, head to chest. Saul can choke. 

Gail: Saul in the back of the room, seated, head down and defeated. Alpha Mike standing above them feels ominous.

Gail: Sam Chance is pretty even when he’s pretending to die. But in all seriousness, we talked on the podcast about how quickly and quietly his death came. It was without warning and there was no way to save him. An all-too-true depiction of the reality of war. 

Sara: No.

Gail: Oh Max!

Sara: Also no.

Sara: I love love LOVED the way they shot this and how you can see Max’s fingers curl slowly around. 

Gail: This episode is so gorgeous in spite of the ugliness going on throughout it.

Gail: Carrie is literally leading Saul back to the front of the room. 

Sara: Carrie’s got shit to do! Saul can choke.

Gail: The perspective shot here, the lighting, the score, having Carrie in his ear. It was *chef’s kiss*. Max has come so far from being Virgil’s sidekick. I love how front and center his storyline is this season. But it stresses me tf out!

Sara: BIG FAT NO!!!!!