What a difference of a week makes: in the space of a single episode, Homeland once again completely changes directions. Although this week’s episode ‘The Weekend’ was less taunt than previous weeks when we focused on interrogations and polygraphs, there was a ridiculous amount of progress made for the conspiracy fans, in addition to an obscene amount of character development. Characters were making moves – both sexual and emotional – and the results were incredibly engrossing.
Let’s break it down…(Major spoilers ahead)
As I looked over my notes for this recap, I was dumbstruck that this is just over half-way through the season. The amount of information that was handled this week would have been reserved for finales on lesser shows, so it’s even more telling how amazing Homeland is that its seventh episode has the blogosphere falling over itself in awe.
There were two principal stories this week: the narrative unfolding at the cabin and the narrative on the roadtrip, with a light smattering of domestic conflict in the Brody household. We left off last week as Carrie (Claire Danes) got in Brody’s (Damian Lewis) car immediately after he beat the polygraph and they drove off for destinations unknown. Turns out that I had originally misinterpreted the episode title as ‘Fever’, which would have been apropros for the first half as the two of them went at it like bunnies at Carrie’s family cabin. In between bouts of sex, our secret antagonists hung out on the dock, walked through the woods and made pasta dinners. If one of them wasn’t secretly spying on the other for being a suspected terrorist, it would have been downright Hallmark.
Jokes aside, this was juicy stuff. Whether or not Brody knew that Carrie was analyzing him in the same way she had the neo-nazi in the dive bar that started their cabin adventure was unclear. But both parties were in sharing moods as we further learned that Carrie had yearned for non-traditional adventures as a child (perhaps to spite her CIA-hating father?) and Brody admitted that wife Jess (Morena Baccarin) no longer knows who he is. His declaration that he felt “free” with Carrie, and she with him, was a genuine cathartic moment between two war torn individuals who don’t fit in the current world. It would have been quite a milestone for Carrie, except that later it was clear that despite her growing comfort with Brody, she still didn’t trust him. Not only did the loaded gun reveal her fears, but the close-ups of her face during their second sexual encounter were wildly desperate. It may have taken her until now to figure it out, but Carrie knows that what she’s doing with Brody isn’t right. Mo Ryan has suggested that it was the duplicity between the two of them that lead to their respective emotional breakdowns at the episode’s end and I would agree – although both Carrie and Brody were being truthful, they still had their masks firmly in place at various points (maybe even during some of what Carrie called the “important parts.”)
That Brody finally wised up to her over such a little slip (recognizing what kind of tea he drinks because of the month she surveilled him) was incredibly human or incredibly convenient. Either way, it broke six episodes worth of content wide open as Brody and Carrie sat down for a no holds barred q&a session (again contrasting the previous interrogation and polygraph scenes from earlier episodes, as well as mirroring the unofficial interrogation that was occurring on the roadtrip with Mandy Patinkin’s Saul). And so it all came out: Brody’s involvement in his colleague Tom Walker’s (Chris Chalk) death, his conversion to Muslim religion, and his connection to Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban). It also put a stake in all of the “is he or isn’t he?” drama that has surrounded the show since the pilot. We finally know that not only is he not the turned agent that Carrie was warned about in Baghdad, we know that it is actually Tom. The scene was electrifying, incredibly well acted, and rare in its simplicity: it was little more than a candid conversation, but Danes and Lewis made it gripping (both should prepare to hear their names called during awards season – for nominations, if not wins).
With so much drama, it’s easy to forget that there was an entire other subplot: Saul’s roadtrip with American terrorist Aileen Morgan (Marin Ireland). Was it incredibly convenient that Saul managed to convince Aileen to cooperate at just the same time as Carrie was learning the truth about Brody? Sure. But this is television – a certain amount of suspension of disbelief is required, and thus far the show has demonstrated that our trust is well earned. This week’s exploration of Saul’s challenging religious background was less ham-fisted than his sudden desire to abandon everything for New Delhi last week, although I’m still hoping that this dramatic investment pays off further with Aileen considering how much time we spent with her this hour. Whether or not her identification of Tom will be of further narrative benefit or if this was simply an opportunity to flesh out Saul a bit more has yet to be determined.
- The suggested narrative that will drive the remainder of the first season is how Tom Walker survived and what his plan for the Marine 1 landing pad is. I have some concerns that this sounds a wee bit like a 24 plotline (all we need is Keifer Sutherland to drive-by barking orders and torturing suspects), so I’m hoping that the show once again delivers a fresh take on some familiar material.
- What should we make of Jess and Mike’s (Diego Klattenhoff) nicely handled romantic moment? Part of me doesn’t care and wants to cast aside the entire family, as their stories are never as engaging as Brody or Carrie. As much as I may inwardly groan when we return to the Brody household, but even when we have to suffer daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) acting petulant, the annoyance factor is helpfully offset by good acting (added bonus: this week’s bonus window breaking drinking game). This was a nice tie into the damages of alcohol that were simultaneously undoing Brody and Carrie at the cabin, and provides a good opportunity to reinforce that Jess and Mike are good together (barftastically so). When they’re on-screen it’s sad, because they serve as a reminder that Brody really did mess up a good thing for Jess.
- Speaking of Brody, where does the development with Walker leave him (unless you want to speculate that his confession could still be a lie like AOL’s Michael Hogan)? If he’s no longer public enemy number one, is he less relevant, or will he be folded into the hunt for Walker so that we get more awesome Brody-Carrie tag-team fights? Given how little I’ve responded to new comedies this season, I’d readily welcome a comedy spin-off featuring Carrie insulting rednecks and Brody beating them up.
What were your thoughts on Homeland 1×07? With five episodes left where do you think this is going to go?