Homeland activates Brody (Damian Lewis) and sets up its season three end game in an episode full of season “firsts.”
Let’s bitch it out…
After Saul (Mandy Patinkin) rescued him from the Tower of David last week, Brody ends up back on US soil. He’s meant to be there only briefly, a few days – later extended to just over two weeks – in order to dry up, shape up and ship out. Saul and Dar Adal (F. Abraham Murray) have Phase Two plans for Brody: infiltrate Tehran thanks to the newly minted power of Javadi and assassinate a high profile target. Of course this assumes he can stop hallucinating, cutting and shitting himself long enough to go.
Enter Carrie (Claire Danes), fresh out of the Naval hospital and recruited by Saul to talk a suicidal Brody into accepting the mission. This requires a trip to see Dana (Morgan Saylor) and a frank conversation (not about the Langley bombings, but rather the suicide vest from S1) to convince him. Even then, Saul still needs to blackmail Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts), who is behind the wiretapping in Saul’s house by stupid Mira’s lover, in order to buy them more time. By episode’s end Brody is clean and sturdy enough to board the plane with the other soldiers for what amounts to a one-way trip, but as with the strongest episodes of Homeland, it’s not the plot machinations that make the show work.
If we think back on this episode, the memorable events center around a series of season “firsts”: the first time Carrie and Brody lay eyes on each other since she sent him across the border into Canada solo in 2×12 and the first time Brody sees Dana this season, unaware of the fact that she’s attempted suicide, run away, changed her name and emancipated herself (Side Note: I only squealed with glee a little when Dana is revealed to be working as a motel cleaning woman). The conversation between estranged father and daughter is powerful for everything that’s being said…and everything that’s not. Ultimately I wish the emotional beats of the episode – this conversation and Carrie and Brody’s goodbye – but that would necessitate a more confessional approach (“Dana, I’m going away to die a hero’s death”; “Brody, I’m pregnant with our severely deformed child”). As it stands ‘Horse and Wagon’ is a solid return to form for a show that has spent a good portion of the season repairing the damage from S2.
- I love the disdain that the doctor displays when he talks to Carrie about her pregnancy. Very judgy, those Naval doctors. Of course, I found myself wearing the same facial expression when Brody catches Carrie smoking. Damn she’s going to be a terrible mother
- The moment that Yousef Turani (Jared Ward) confirms that he has a new son = the moment we know he’ll die on the forthcoming mission. Might as well have given him a red shirt
- As often as Carrie seemingly does things without thinking, I do like that she stands up to Saul when he bitches her out. Is taking Brody off base not once, but twice to see Dana a really dumb idea? Absolutely. However, her assertion that she’s pulling Saul’s ass out of the fire by convincing Brody to accept the mission is still spot-on. The simple fact is that Saul and Carrie need each other
I’m interested how viewers who’ve hung in feel about the overhaul of the recent episodes. I find it interesting that Alan Sepinwall of Hitflix basically hates Carrie and can’t tolerate her stupidity any more. I think it’s interesting that we’ve championed Saul as the unofficial protagonist of the series (in spite all of the terrible things he’s done) because he’s often the most sane. And do we still think that Brody should have been put down in the first season rather than kept alive? Lay out your opinions in the comments below
Homeland airs Sundays at 9pm EST on Showtime