Monday, October 22, 2012

Homeland Ep. 2-4: New Car Smell

Wow. I was *not* expecting that turn of least not this early in the season.

The last time I had that feeling watching "Homeland" - "holy shit, they're really going there - and so soon?!" - was in the middle of the first season. And somehow the writers managed to keep the narrative going just fine. So I have faith they'll be able to do it again. But I really wonder what their plan is, and in particular I wonder how much longer they're planning to keep Brody and his family as central characters in the "Homeland" universe.

That's not to say there haven't been signs that Brody was going down sooner rather than later, as I commented last week. And there were signs early in this episode that his fall would be accelerated, despite Saul's efforts to set up a longer game. (And no, I don't believe Saul's strategy is evidence that he's a mole - after all, wouldn't a true mole have ensured that no one ever saw the Brody video in the first place?) There was the urgency of discovering Abu Nazir's plot; the quick buildup of a critical mass of witnesses to Carrie's vindication; and, on the sidelines, Jessica's ultimatum and Lauder's piecing together the truth about Walker's assassination attempt. Something had to give - but again, I was expecting at least a couple more episodes before the rug got pulled. If I had to predict where Brody's arc is headed now, I'd guess that the CIA "persuades" him to play double agent for them in the hope of uncovering Abu Nazir's plot. But with "Homeland," you really never know what's going to happen next.

All I know is I'll be sad if this latest plot turn means we won't get to see any more of that wonderful cat-and-mouse dynamic between Carrie and Brody - those supercharged scenes when we're never really sure who's got whose number or how much of what they're saying or showing to each other is true. We got a taste of it tonight in their run-in outside the CIA and even more so in the bar scene, but these interactions were one-upped by their last, climactic encounter in Brody's hotel room. Which I think marked a point of no return: while there may well be future power struggles and mind games between those two, I fear they won't have that same delicious ambiguity now that the masks (and gloves) have come off. Of course they could always go back on if the CIA decides to use Brody against Nazir.

But regardless of what happens in the long run, how fantastic was that last face-off between Carrie and Brody? You could see the murder in Brody's eyes and the crazy in Carrie's - or vice versa. They're twisted mirror images of each other, which is also why they're irresistibly drawn to each other. The moment when Carrie let Brody know the game was up and essentially dared him to kill her reminded me, in its intensity, of when Brody pushed the button on his suicide bomb vest. For each of them the pulling of the trigger was not only their moment of revenge, but, in their own sick way, their moment of fulfillment - of justification for their royally fucked-up existence.

I don't mean to suggest any kind of moral equivalency between Carrie and Brody. But their similarities in temperament can only feed our doubts about Carrie - at least, of her subconscious rather than her conscious motivations. Was she correct that Brody had "made" her, or was she so obsessed with payback that she made herself believe that he had? Did she tell Brody that she'd loved him to throw him off balance or (as I believe) because she simply couldn't help herself? And if the latter, did she unwittingly hand him a weapon he might use later?

We'll find out, I guess. And I can't wait.

Random observations:

-Contrary to my expectations, Estes responded to the Brody bombshell in an entirely appropriate manner. But then he brought in the mysterious Peter Quinn, whom we're clearly supposed to wonder about, although I like his dynamic with Carrie and my money's on him being a good guy. My money's also on him and Carrie hitting the sheets at some point. Where there's friction, there's a spark.

-Trivia: the actor playing Peter Quinn, Rupert Friend, is yet another Brit pretending (quite successfully) to be an American - in case you didn't already know, both Damian Lewis (Brody) and David Harewood (Estes) are Brits. The Friend's been in several British period piece-ish movies (Prince Albert in "The Young Victoria," Wickham in the Keira Knightley "Pride and Prejudice") and was dating Keira Knightley for a while. (Maybe still is, for all I know.)

-I love Virgil and was happy to see him again, but good Lord, could the man be any less subtle in his spy work? I half expected him to come up to Brody and tap him on the shoulder.

-Other than the Carrie connection, I don't understand why Mike thinks Brody might have been working for the CIA. His theory still doesn't answer the million dollar question raised by Lauder: why did Walker shoot to miss?

-I'm not really that interested in Dana's relationship status (though the writing was on the wall for that change since at least the second episode). But I expect its significance will become clearer soon enough, given how fast this show moves.

-Line of the week: "Key lime, sounds like a winner."


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