Just How Impossible Was Last Night's 'Homeland' Episode?

One thing's for sure about last night's episode of Homeland: It was kind of bonkers. But how bonkers, really?

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One thing's for sure about last night's episode of Homeland: It was kind of bonkers. But how bonkers, really? The episode—spoilers ahead, obviously—saw Carrie Mathison kidnapped by a major terrorist who has somehow managed to make it into the U.S., and a vice president die of a heart attack in front of a congressman/terrorist. The day after, critics have been debating whether or not issues of plausibility harm the show. At the A.V. Club, Todd VanDerWerff claimed he doesn't "really give a shit about issues of plot plausibility." At Salon, Willa Paskin admitted that the episode drove her insane. Given that, and inspired by Chris Rovzar and Jessica Pressler's Gossip Girl recaps for New York, we've assembled the following abridged reality index, of sorts, for Sunday's episode. Maybe we'll get back to reality in the season's two remaining episode.

Abu Nazir is in the United States and kidnaps a C.I.A. agent.
Not Real. Since, in the context of the show, we have no idea how Nazir made it into the country, we can't much judge this one other than going with our gut instinct that it's highly unlikely an Osama bin Laden-type figure could manage to find a way into the U.S. without somehow being noticed and then somehow go out on the lam. That said, this summer conservative media latched onto reports of terrorists entering through Mexico.

Abu Nazir video chats Brody with Skype on a BlackBerry. 
Not Really Real. Paskin took issue with this arguing that "Blackberries do not have that kind of video functionality." Though the BlackBerry 10 looks to have something like that, there is a Skype app on BlackBerry. That said, per this Skype FAQ "video calling is not currently available on the Verizon network. We hope to change this in the future, so keep checking back for updates."

Security didn't catch Brody snooping around the Naval Observatory/watching the veep die. 
Not Real. Though the veep's staff doesn't know that Brody is a terrorist, they let him wander throughout the Naval Observatory. That said, one assumes that an entire floor of a building that important—with the Israeli ambassador over for a meeting, no less—doesn't just go deserted, security-wise.

Abu Nazir kills the vice president by accessing his pacemaker remotely.
Real. While the whole operation seemed almost too simple, it's not a completely implausible tactic. In October of this year Darren Pauli wrote at SC Magazine that a researcher in Australia "reverse-engineered a pacemaker transmitter to make it possible to deliver deadly electric shocks to pacemakers within 30 feet and rewrite their firmware." Though that tactic would cause "mass murder" and Nazir's attack was singularly aimed at the vice president, the whole pacemaker-as-means-of-terrorism thing has been thought of before.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.