All season long, Greg Otto and Tierney Sneed will be recapping Showtime's Homeland, and discuss what they're hoping to see in the rest of the season.
(Ed. Note: Spoilers ahead. Do not read if you want to let the story unfold for yourself.)
Tierney: First of all, let me just say, thank God — thank God — Carrie paid attention to that part in D.A.R.E. when they taught you that vomiting is the way to get pills out of your system. Not that she could have died—the show can't go on without her. I just wonder: What thought made her realize that she wanted to keep living? Hopefully, the revelation that she was right about Brody will be enough to stave off any more suicide attempts.
I found this whole episode to be really, really sad. I kept going back and forth on who had it worse: Brody or Carrie. Brody's double identities of sleeper cell terrorist and war hero congressman, which he has worked hard to keep separate, really collided in this episode. He may have lost his family, and definitely some his moral high ground (in his eyes, anyway) by killing Bassel the tailor, who, albeit not an innocent bystander, was by no means Brody's declared enemy.
Meanwhile, Carrie's entire mental state is crumbling on her. By the end of the episode Brody is definitely more screwed, but I would say Carrie's situation (up until the point Saul showed up) was more tragic, aside from the obvious fact that she is not a terrorist. Brody is the source of his own problems, as well as a great deal of Carrie's.
This show is so great at making you empathize with characters you're not supposed feel for, namely Brody. Greg, did you feel at least a little bad for the guy, or am I a sicko for even suggesting it?
Greg: I went in the opposite direction with Brody on this episode. He dug his own figurative grave in the process of digging an actual grave. He could have told Roya off, not lied to his wife, not skipped a veteran's benefit, and, you know, not killed a guy. He controlled his own situation as it spiraled out of control. Despite his nefarious deeds, I have had some empathy for Brody in the past. But it's waning.
Carrie, on the other hand, has had the deck stacked against her from the beginning, and it's brutal to watch the CIA ultimately crap on her for a job well done. Yes, Carrie controlled her decision to down a month's worth of pills and chase it with a bottle of wine, but, c'mon, we are all aware of her mental state. She deserves all the empathy in the world.
Speaking of empathy: In another life. I can see Saul Berenson as the lead in an airport spy novel titled The Spy With a Heart of Gold. It's hard not to love him, which makes me believe he's destined to die before the season ends.
Tierney: All right, I feel like a sicko. Brody is a bad, bad guy. I agree, he has walked — no, bolted — past the point of no return, empathy-wise, and no amount of precious father-daughter moments with Dana or Issa flashbacks can fix that. You have to wonder how Jessica is going to come out of this. Would Brody kill her, like he did the tailor, if she got in the way? I've wavered in my affinity toward her. Sometimes I feel bad for her, sometimes I think she is too wrapped up in her social ambitions. But I found her speech at the fundraiser really touching and honorable; it came from an honest place.
Back to Saul: He is the best, and I am really happy that he went to Carrie first with the tape and that he was clever enough to outsmart the Hezbollah airport agents. About the airport scene: It's not like it was a huge revelation, but is that the first time Saul's Judaism has been an issue, at least so explicitly? Homeland has been really great in its exploration of Islam, especially the role it plays in Brody's life. I would love to find out more about the role Judaism plays in Saul's.
I think it's safe to say that we can look forward to a big moment when Carrie's and Brody's paths cross again. In addition to being a Nazir agent (and Carrie has proved her commitment to taking out Nazir), and nearly perpetrating a horrific act of terrorism, Brody has taken away so much from her on a personal level: her job, her sanity. With so many emotions wrapped up in him—remember, she admitted that she loved this guy—will she be able to keep her cool moving forward?
Greg: I think the only place where Carrie loses her cool going forward is with Estes. As much as Brody contributed to Carrie's mental breakdown, Estes helped. So will the CIA backtrack? Will Estes relent and give her a new (or same) position? Will he start to trust Carrie, despite his inclination to regard her as a loose cannon? Carrie may be able to bring Brody down, but she has to get the CIA on board first. I don't see Estes, with his ties to the smarmy VP, being so quick to pounce on Brody.
Tierney: Estes's savvy politicking skills have been just as integral as his clever spy skills, getting him to his current post (or even more so, re: last week, depending on Saul to make the call on the raid — I'd argue he is not the CIA's best spy). Now that Carrie has been proven right in her theory about Brody, Estes will need to cover his interests more than anything. I think at first, you're right. He won't want to throw his BFFL/former boss's protege under the bus without good reason.
But at some point, he won't be able to deny that the pieces of the puzzle fit, and his next concern will be making sure it doesn't look like it was he and his team that dropped the ball — even if that means bringing Carrie back in the fold in order to get her on his side. I would be really interested to see Homeland explore his internal conflict over the matter, considering what a job they've done with Brody's and Carrie's internal conflicts. And I would love such a story line to address a question I've had since this show started: What was the nature of his and Carrie's affair and how has it affected her standing in the CIA?
Greg: Exploring Estes's background, how he climbed the CIA ladder and how he fell into such good standing with the VP would add a level of intrigue. If I can feel empathy for Brody, I imagine it wouldn't be a stretch for writers to show Estes (or the VP) in a good light.
Staying with the empathy theme, I finally feel some for Jess. She is starting to take control of her situation after being thrust into something so earth-shattering, then trying to pick up the pieces of her own life, as well as her family's. She finally draws a line in the sand, and it's clearly not going to make life easier for Brody. (Side note: Morena Baccarin has done a wonderful job so far this season. I thought the writers used her solely as eye candy in the first season, but she's proven she's otherwise.)
Tierney: I agree. Jessica won me over this episode with that speech. For all her flaws, she does really care about her family above all else, and feels betrayed by Brody.
Overall, I think this episode, even without any major revelations, represents a major turning point for the characters. As you mentioned, Jess finally stood up for herself. Not going through with the suicide attempt was also a big moment for Carrie — she decided she could live even without the career that has been her life. Now that she has the tape and Saul behind her, I see things only getting better for her. And for Brody, now with innocent(-ish) blood on his hands, there's no turning back from the road he is taking, and there's no regaining the audience empathy he once had.
Greg: I think Brody could wiggle his way back to some level of empathy. There was a line this week that should strike viewers as being very obvious to whom Brody will turn to in times of need. Before he snaps Bassel's neck, he tells him to "keep thinking about your daughter, she'll give you the strength you need." With the way things are going, Dana may be the only ally he can still cling to.
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Come back next week as Greg and Tierney continue their Homeland discussion.