It’s been an interesting few weeks on Homeland as the show has become something different now that Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nick Brody (Damian Lewis), the man she suspects of being a terrorist, are spending more time together. I particularly liked the contrast between last week’s episode that centered around the torture and questioning of Brody’s old interrogator, and this week’s episode (in the wake of the interrogator’s suicide) when our own crew were being questioned via polygraph. It again ties together the experiences of not only Brody and Carrie, but serves to reinforce the ambiguous grey line that separates the methodologies of the CIA and the terrorists they pursue.
And so each of our principle characters each spent some time this week in the hot seat. First Carrie, who came up with the idea instead of resigning after her bitter confrontation with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) at the end of last week’s episode. Then David (David Estes), who used the opportunity to revert back to douchebag status by blaming his affair with Carrie for ruining his marriage (was it just a dig because he knew was she watching behind the two way mirror?). Later on we got to see Saul tackle the truth not once, but twice: he first broke it off before returning a second time to complete it the next day. Clearly we’re meant to begin doubting Saul after we saw the polygraph spike in a lie when he was asked about the razor, but after years of watching 24 this seems like red herring meant to make us consider that Saul is really working with terrorist ringleader, Abu Nazir. As Alan Sepinwall elaborates, the question of who is and is not a terrorist is the show’s raison d’etre, but for me, that’s not what makes it must see TV. Whether or not Brody – or now Saul – are traitors to their countries is less interesting to me than watching these fractured, messed up characters find new ways of screwing up their lives (a feeling that a great many people, including Sepinwall, seem to share).
And messed up they are. This was a big episode for both Carrie and Brody emotionally. For Brody it began with the truth about Jess (Morena Baccarin) and Mike’s (Diego Klattenhoff) affair coming out at the wake for Tom Walker, the other soldier who was captured with Brody. Mike got punched and Brody took off to eventually meet up with Carrie to drink and confess to each other. Particularly insightful was Carrie’s boastful description that she always won games of chicken as a child. Even as a child, it’s clear that her resilient personality put her on a narrow path to danger.
As they proceeded to get increasingly drunk, it became more and more clear that this would lead to something more and pretty soon the two were having sex in the backseat of her car. Meanwhile I’m watching this at work on my lunchhour, my mouth agape in shock, mouthing “no, no, no!” and watching Carrie go completely trainwreck in front of me. In the pantheons of characters making poor decisions, this isn’t simply someone who does something because they can’t help themselves; this is symbolic of just how damaged Carrie is. Even as she’s anticipating nailing Brody with the polygraph the next day, she’s physically nailing him in the public parking lot of a bar. As I said: so messed up.
Chalk it up to a drunken error? Nope. The WTF factor kept right up during Brody’s polygraph test. Carrie became increasingly frustrated and edgy when the test suggested Brody wasn’t lying about the razorblade, so she makes the technician (we’ll call him polygrapher) bring up the drunken hook-up to see if Brody can pass off lying about their encounter the night before. Lo and behold, he does, so we – and Carrie – know that he can beat the polygraph. Saul is satisfied of Brody’s innocence, and almost immediately zeroes in on Carrie’s bizarre question about Brody’s love life. “Why do we care that he’s been faithful to his wife?” Well don’t you dare question Carrie! She stomps off in a fuss (that’s two for two for those of you keeping track at home. Will she go for the hat trick next week?) and into Brody’s waiting car to end the episode.
- Our terrorist couple, Aileen Morgan and Professor Faisel, seek sanctuary first in a remote farmhouse wired with explosives and then a grungy dive hotel. While we don’t really have any more answers about what they’re up to, Faisal’s death by firing squad suggests that there’s a much larger agenda (possibly multiple terrorist plots?) at play.
- Also, the reveal that Aileen is the true terrorist and Faisal is the dupe along for the ride? Not all that original for creators Gordon and Gansa who used the same storyline in season 2 of the 24 when blonde American Marie Warner (Laura Harris) turned out to be the hardened terrorist and not her middle eastern fiancée.
- While I appreciate the fact that the show is working to develop a backstory for Saul, the disintegration of his marriage and his aborted attempt to take over the New Delhi office was a snoozefest. Here’s hoping they go somewhere interesting wi…zzzzzzz
- Finally, what do we make of Carrie and Brody’s sexual encounter? I feel as though the groundwork for this was laid in episode 4 when they had a meet-cute outside the support group. Not that it made it any less of a jaw-dropper (principally because you know how stupid both of them are for doing it). I was more surprised that Carrie so willingly got in his car at episode’s end. If we deduce from their conversation in the bar that Brody’s never been unfaithful before, he must know that she was the one behind the question when it came up in the polygraph test, which means that he’s at the very least suspicious of her motives now. Discuss.