"Homeland": The reckoning

With the video in the CIA's possession, how much longer can Brody hide his secret allegiances?

By Roxane Gay

Published October 22, 2012 5:59AM (EDT)

There’s a reckoning on the horizon and we’re getting closer and closer to that moment where the full extent of Brody’s damage and duplicity will be revealed. It’s bittersweet to realize there may be no happily ever after for Brody. We have long known that Brody endured the unendurable. We have seen how he was tormented and how he is still tormented. The depths of his suffering have made us root for him, have made us want there to be some way for Brody to find a way back to himself but that possibility grows ever dimmer.

Saul turns up at David Estes' house to show him the video of Brody. Estes tries to grapple with this new complication. They decide to put a full surveillance team on Brody, to try and smoke out his handler. Saul suggests running the operation off campus, with outsiders and, of course, Carrie. Estes approves but is sending Saul “a guy” to run the operation. Estes can't believe Carrie "called it” — but of course we can. Time to exhale a sigh of relief as he states the obvious, a skill Estes has honed quite nicely since we’ve gotten to know him.

Brody brings Jessica coffee in bed, a peace offering, but Jessica is immovable. She no longer trusts him. Looks like someone wants out of this marriage: She suggests he pack a bag. Brody just stares at his wife silently. Leaving the home he so desperately wanted to return to is clearly easier than explaining who he has become. But it's easier to dodge her than Dana, who tells her father his car smells like smoke after he gives her a ride to school. His mask is slipping and Brody hardly seems to know it — the details are getting harder and harder to keep from her, from everyone. As she is walking on campus, Dana is joined by Finn — Xander, watch out, this kid is going to steal your girlfriend. Dana tells the veep's son: “My dad’s a liar, my mom’s a rube.” Finn is sympathetic — he feels the same way about his parents.

Carrie and the surveillance team assemble and meet Peter Quinn, the guy Estes has selected to run the show. Carrie is instantly suspicious because she likes to know all the players. Before Carrie can get the upper hand, Peter details his plan, which is to use Carrie to unnerve Brody by engineering an encounter between them. Carrie grudgingly admits she likes Quinn’s plan.

At the CIA, Brody catches sight of Carrie, stops and calls after her. She pretends to be surprised and they have a brief conversation, trying to make nice. Carrie and Brody are always electric together and their attraction is palpable as they talk about everything but what they should really talk about. Carrie is masterful in giving Brody just enough information to put him on edge. When Brody tries to push for more, Carrie says, “I can’t tell you. I have good boundaries now.”

Lauder shows up at the Brody home, drunk and belligerent, mouthing off about his conspiracy theories that aren’t actually conspiracy theories because, of course, he’s right about Brody and Walker. Jessica tries to reach Brody but can’t so she gets Mike on the phone. He's always more than happy to be summoned. Sad how both Brody and his wife pang for people they don’t think they can be with.

There are eyes on Brody at all times: The surveillance team can see him talking to Roya Hammad, but they don't yet have audio, so they don’t realize she is his handler. What they don't hear: Brody telling Hammad Carrie is back in play. Hammad wants Brody to renew the relationship because, “it could be useful, actually.” As she’s about to leave, Brody says, the incident with the bomb maker was a fucking travesty. Hammad is as inscrutable as ever. She simply smiles, and leaves Brody where he always is — precariously on the edge of losing it completely.

Lauder is passed out on the kitchen table when Mike arrives, and as the would-be lovers enter the house, Jessica tells him, “I don’t think we’re ever going to kiss and make up.” Brody calls and Jessica remains absolutely unwilling to tolerate Brody’s nonsense. She tells him not to bother coming home. Mike helps Lauder outside and when Lauder explains his theory about Brody, Mike actually listens, Brody having finally created enough doubt that even his best friend suspects something is wrong. The reckoning approaches from many directions in this episode.

At the vice-president’s home, Finn and Dana are studying. The vice-president makes an uncomfortable appearance, the kind that would leave any child with severe daddy issues. Dana falls even harder for Finn because there’s nothing more romantic than a boy with daddy issues. Emboldened, Finn suggests they go somewhere and Dana agrees.

Carrie and her team are analyzing everyone Brody met during his day. Estes shows up, and continues to state the obvious, telling Carrie, “I feel like a complete heel.” CIA agent, know thyself. He apologizes and Carrie is far more gracious than he deserves. She suggests an apology is enough for the pain and humiliation she suffered when she was discredited. An apology doesn’t even come close to the recompense Carrie deserves.

As the team pares down the top people of interest, they decide to focus on the brown-skinned people. That’s the way these things go post 9/11 — all manner of civil liberties can be trampled in the name of national security; racial profiling is warmly encouraged because in "Homeland," all terrorists but Brody have brown skin. The operatives are all very matter of fact about this, which is, perhaps, the most chilling thing of all.

Dana and Finn arrive at the Washington Monument, which is closed for renovations, but not for Bill Walden’s son. Membership: It has its privileges. From the top, they look out onto the city from one of the most recognizable phallic symbols in the world. There is clearly subtext at work. They nervously confess they like each other in the way adolescents are wont to do and share a kiss.

A sobered Lauder wakes up in Mike’s home where Mike wants to discuss Brody because they can no longer ignore how much Brody has changed. They try to make sense of it all but there are no easy answers to be found.

Brody is drowning his sorrows. Hotel security has let the CIA in on their cameras (see: trampling of civil liberties), so they can watch Brody’s every move. In the surveillance room, Quinn and Carrie want Brody to call his contact. Imagine their surprise when Carrie’s phone rings. You know what that means? Carrie’s gonna get lucky!  When Carrie shows up at the hotel bar, Brody says, “By the way, this is not a booty call” — damn. It would have been nice to see something sexy go down between these two.

Carrie drops a hint that she’s getting close to “her goal,” and basically tells Brody she has Nazir in her sights. Their chemistry is undiminished as Brody tries to keep his mask on. Brody asks about the ECT and Carrie is unnerved. After an awkward silence, Brody says he’s glad they had a drink, asks for the check, and drops that he’s in Room 416. Brody and Carrie stare at each other silently, intensely, and unfortunately, they do not tear off their clothes like they would if they really cared about us.

Alone at the bar, Carrie is disconcerted. She calls Quinn and he says she was great but Carrie disagrees. She is convinced Brody saw she was onto him and we know how Carrie gets when she is sure of something. Before long, Carrie is at Brody’s door. She coyly suggests Brody shared his room number for a reason but the conversation immediately gets real and by real, I mean, something’s about to go down.

Pretenses are set aside. Carrie says, “It reeks, you know,” referring to his “bullshit.” When Carrie is allowed to be focused and fierce, she is flawless. Brody says she still has her twisted theories and that maybe they can’t be friends. Carrie snaps and tells Brody exactly what she thinks of him. There is almost relief in his features as his mask falls completely away and he reveals himself for the man he has become, the man we really know him as.

We finally get to the heart of the matter when Brody says, “I liked you, Carrie,” and she says, “I loved you.” It is a perfect moment, their feelings and desire hovering in the air between them alongside the betrayals. They are interrupted when a team knocks down the door to take Brody into custody. Alone, in Brody’s hotel room, Carrie is both smiling and frowning as she grapples with loving a man who betrayed her and her country so profoundly. There has been a reckoning, indeed, and there is, we hope, more reckoning to come.

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay's writing has appeared in Best American Short Stories 2012, Oxford American, the Rumpus, the Wall Street Journal and many other publications

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