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.
Tierney: So this is the episode where everybody learns the deep, dark secrets we've known all season long. Our dear characters dropped plenty of bombs on one another—Brody told Jessica he was "involved" (classic Brody understatement) in Walker's death, Dana (and Finn, kind of) told their parents about the accident. And Quinn dropped his hospital gown in front of Carrie because, why not—she's seen it all before. But no real twists were thrown to the audience. Was there anything new we learned this episode?
Greg: That Saul "The Spy with a Heart of Gold" Berenson is a softie. We've never seen his paternal ways go a-rye, but everyone's favorite CIA agent was straight played. I'm not sure the rogue mercenary's identity is important to Nazir's overall plan, but Aileen's death puts the whole operation at an extreme loss when we all know the clock is ticking.
We also saw a deeper evolution of Brody's character during his conversation with Rex, the big-money political donor who spent time fighting in Vietnam. As Rex describes the similarities between Brody and himself ("real soldier, you didn't lose yourself"), he's genuinely surprised. Brody then reveals to Carrie, in another moment of clarity, that he feels he could have been similar to Rex instead of the path he has chosen. It's a stunning revelation in Brody's thinking, because to this point it seems like he has justified his nefarious actions as a survival tactic. It was either become a jihadist, or die in a hole. It never occurred to Brody that he had a choice to never align himself with Nazir. But then we wouldn't have ridiculous, passionate make out sessions in the woods, now would we?
Tierney: Yes, there was definitely some character revelation in Saul's storyline. We always knew he placed an extraordinary amount of trust in Carrie. But in his encounter with Aileen, we learned he is an extremely trusting person. Like Carrie's empathy and Quinn's temper, it seems to me that this is both Saul's greatest strength as spy—in return for his trust he can get people to trust him—but also a fatal flaw: if he lets his guard down too much, he can be played. And I agree with you that we don't know how big a role the mystery man plays in Nazir's operation—our heroes could be chasing just a low-level muscle man. But even if the trail cools for a while, knowing Homeland, he will reappear at some point. I had wondered all season what had happened to Aileen and if she would come back to reveal more of Saul's character.
Re: Rex, you are absolutely right, and what better way to describe Brody than as a "quiet surprise"? After all, Brody has been wont to pull off the terrorist-cum-VP-candidate front by keeping his head down and playing the humble hero card. But he is definitely losing his cool. How much longer until he blows it completely?
Greg: It may not be long, thanks to Carrie intervening while Brody wants to play dad. It really bothered me that Brody chews out Carrie at the end of the episode ("None of this is f---ing okay!") for trying to quash the accident incident. Everything is crumbling for Brody because he primarily felt the need to exact revenge on his home country. Brody dug his own grave, and is angry that he is having the dirt shoveled back on top of him.
Of course, Brody isn't the only person digging holes. Back to the make out scene, which is clearly Carrie's show of weakness. I thought she was handling her feelings for Brody pretty well, and then she submits to Brody's corny admission of enjoying being "used." C'mon girl, this landed you in shock therapy last time. Get a grip.
If there is an overall theme to this episode (aside from it being the weakest of the season so far), it's that everyone's flaws were bound to bubble to the surface, and everyone is worse off because of them. None of this is "f---ing okay," indeed.
Tierney: Yes, the Brody freakout on Carrie was disappointing, considering shortly before he seemed to finally have taken at least some ownership of his situation in comparing himself to Rex. But it is not surprising, as Dana has always been his last line of defense. He had finally regained some of her trust and respect by taking her to the police, and he was forced to throw it all away with the hopes that it would save their relationship in the long run (and let's be honest here, we all know it won't).
In Carrie's defense, Quinn pushed her into wooing Brody. Saul is the only one who really cares about Carrie's wellbeing while navigating her compromised relationship with Brody. Quinn will slam her for it— "Like you've never seen a d--k before?"—until it is useful— "So empower the guy." It's hard to say whether this is supposed to be just a symptom of Carrie's unique situation or a reflection on gender dynamics in macho CIA culture. (After all, Saul clearly had an emotional connection with Aileen, but I doubt we will see anyone really question him on whether he lost his head to his heart). But that's a discussion for another time.
Two nitpicky questions I would like to get your opinion on:
1. Was it just me or did Roya look awful in that opening scene? Obviously she was in her weekend attire, but she seemed worried, haggard, and a lot less confident than she usually is. (She also looks like the Octomom with her up-do, but that's neither here nor there). Is this a hint that things are not going well in Nazir-land, or at least that we are getting close to something big?
2. Is Quinn developing a pill problem? It's obvious he would be given some meds to deal with that shot he took in Gettysburg. But it seemed like every one of his scenes opened with him throwing back some Percocet.
Greg: Roya did looked haggard, but I think the clue that things aren't going well for Nazir is the curtness with which she addresses Brody. It's clear they are both getting fed up with one another, let alone the other people pulling them in every direction.
As far as Quinn's pill problem: I've (thankfully) never been shot, so I don't know how painful that could be, so it might be accurate. If he is still popping Percocets like Mentos three episodes from now, then maybe our boy has an issue. However, I think something else will arise to show us he's not someone we should be rooting for.
Tierney: This is a bit devious, but I am almost excited to see Quinn screw up after all the crap he is given Carrie. But who knows, maybe he will win over my empathy as well. Just when you've made up your mind about someone, Homeland takes your thoughts, and flips them on their head.
Greg: At least until SNL completely nails the characters and story line to the point of absurdity. Who knew Claire Danes' crying act could be so funny?
Come back next week as Greg and Tierney continue their Homeland discussion.
- Homeland Recap: The Battle of Gettysburg
- An Extremely Simple Explanation of the 'Fiscal Cliff'
- Ohio High School Students Told To Remove Rainbow T-Shirts Supporting Gay Rights
Greg Otto is a news editor at U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.
Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.