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Robert Altman Week

Monday
Oct292012

« In Which We Are Jailed By Our Homeland »

Enduring Feelings

by HELEN SCHUMACHER

Homeland
creator Gideon Raff

There has been some hand-wringing on the part of critics and fans about whether or not Homeland’s writers were going to drag out Nick Brody’s double life as a hand-shaking symbol of American military success and bomb-wearing traitor for the entire season — or even possibly the rest of the show’s run — to a point where the audience would have lost interest and the show credibility. Those fears were allayed within the first five minutes of last week’s episode when Estes and Saul decided to set up a surveillance operation on Brody and bring Carrie in as bait.

Convinced Brody has made her during their hotel bar apologies, Carrie confronts him before he can warn Abu Nazir’s network, and we all get to relish the showdown as Carrie asks, “Do I want to be friends with a demented ex-soldier who hates America, who decided that strapping on a bomb was the answer to what ailed him?” In last night’s episode, titled “Q&A,” it seemed that while Carrie might not want to be friends with a demented ex-soldier, she still wants to be his lover.

As Woody Allen said, the heart wants what it wants. There may be no logic to her enduring feelings for Brody, but Carrie has come to a point of accepting them and then uses them to get inside the Congressman’s head. It was kind of nice to see love as strength instead of a weakness of a CIA agent.

The episode begins with Brody being hauled to an off-the-grid, poorly lit basement where Peter Quinn and his menacing cheekbones get the first crack at interrogating him. Peter confronts Brody with the shooting of Elizabeth Gaines to enable Secret Service protocol and Issa’s death. As Saul puts it, he sets the table with Brody’s lies. Brody’s initial defense is aggressive but after being left to dine on his damning confession video, begins to show signs of indigestion.

Meanwhile, outside the shadowy world of CIA interrogation, the Brody household and his legislative team begin to wonder where he’s disappeared to. To buy themselves 24 hours of questioning time, Estes tells the politician’s office that Brody is helping out on a hush-hush assignment. Still, they’re running out of time to get answers.

Putting the “dagger” in “cloak and dagger,” Peter speeds up the interrogation by stabbing Brody in the hand with a switchblade and enabling Carrie to enter the questioning, playing good cop to his bad. She starts with their relationship, asking Brody if he had fun breaking her heart, and then moves on using an angle that has gotten her past his defenses before — their shared trauma from frontline horrors. “You said up at the cabin that you didn’t have anyone to talk to. Did you ever find anybody — a friend, a therapist?” she asks Brody. They agree that “no one survives intact.”

Throughout the interrogation Brody still maintains that he never put on the bomb maker’s vest, but Carrie’s intimate series of questions and confidences do get him to give them Roya Hammad’s name as one of Nazir’s henchmen and that, as feared, a retaliatory strike on America is being planned. As always, the scene between Carrie and Brody was beautifully acted by Danes and Lewis, but it still felt self-consciously like an Emmy reel submission.

Brody’s interrogation ends with him back in a broken state, curled up on the cement floor in the fetal position. For the first time this season I felt sympathy for the guy as he once again got roped into playing the puppet, this time for the CIA in exchange for the organization keeping the suicide tape private. Seeing how well being Nazir’s and Vice President Walden’s lackey has worked out for him, it’s clear this agreement is only to further disrupt Brody’s domestic life and eat away at his poor crushed soul. Carrie and Saul scrape Brody’s destroyed psyche off the floor and Carrie drives him back home, leaving him to come clean with his wife.

As we near the second season’s halfway mark, there are two aspects I’m looking forward to seeing play out, besides obviously Carrie and Brody’s relationship. The first being the question of whether or not there’s a mole in the CIA. I finished the first season thinking the show’s writers wanted us to think there was one. It’s not a point that’s been raised yet, but it would be a great way to add a few twists into the second half of the season. There was an episode or two, when the razorblade was given to Afsal Hamid, and Saul first avoided then failed his lie detector test, that we were led to believe he was the mole. However, if there does turn out to be one, my money is on Galvez, even though he has so far spent this season in the background.

The second is the parallel father-daughter dynamics between Brody and Dana and Carrie and Saul. Both are touching. Dana understands her father better than anyone else in his life (besides maybe Carrie). She sees through his charade of normalcy and even managed to talk him out of blowing up the Vice President. Saul is not just Carrie’s mentor, but the stable father figure she didn’t get from her manic dad. He was able to make sense of her rantings when no one else could and, with less hesitation than anyone else at the CIA, trusts her judgment and has continued to advocate for her. It was probably nothing, but it would be clever for the scene in the previous episode, where Saul visits Estes at his home and is greeted by his son in a Darth Vader costume and growling “Luke, I am your father,” to turn out to be a bit of foreshadowing into either the Brody/Dana or Carrie/Saul relationship.

Helen Schumacher is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. She tumbls here and here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about recess.

"Chelsea Hotel No. 2" - Rufus Wainwright (mp3)

"Go or Go Ahead" - Rufus Wainwright (mp3)

 

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