Monday, October 29, 2012

Homeland Ep. 2-5: Q&A

As a narrative, this was the simplest episode so far of season 2. Picking up from last week, Brody was taken to an underground bunker and interrogated by the CIA. First by Peter Quinn, who appeared to become completely unhinged ("appeared" being the operative word) when Brody wouldn't admit anything, even after being confronted with the damning video. Then by Carrie, who managed to get through to him - enough for him to admit yes, he did try to assassinate the VP, yes, there was a plot to attack America, and yes, he'd help the government foil it in exchange for avoiding a trial and public exposure of his treason.

But from a psychological perspective, this may have been the most layered episode we've seen yet this season. As I commented last week, I rather expected the show would go this route to keep Brody - and more particularly, Brody's relationship with Carrie - front and center, even if I had some misgivings that it wouldn't be able to match their extraordinary first-season dynamic. While it's still too early to call, tonight showed that there's a LOT of juice left in that engine. As always, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis each brought out the other's A game, transcending the improbabilities inherent in their characters' respective situations to create a riveting standoff.

Carrie's approach, as her approach to everything Brody-related, was unorthodox. She began obliquely, not immediately targeting Brody's vulnerabilities but rather exposing her own where Brody was concerned. She doubled down on what she'd admitted to him before, that he'd broken her heart, and pressured him to tell her that her feelings weren't unrequited, that he'd felt at least *some* twinge of guilt in destroying her life. It felt almost like some kind of surreal post-breakup conversation, which in a sense it was. But it was just a prelude to the main event: She turned off the cameras, creating an illusion of intimacy, then looked into him and read him, as only someone who really loved him could - and as no one else ever had, or even could.

And that, ultimately, was what broke him. Some viewers may conjecture that Brody simply made a calculated decision to give in and play along. Maybe it became that later, or will become that in the future, but it wasn't in that moment when he slumped over Carrie's outstretched hand, or to anyone who could see his expression at the climax of her interrogation, mesmerized - no rapt - by her spooky intuition. (Damian Lewis's facial and body language was aces, absolutely brilliant, in this scene.) And later, when he told Jessica that he was working for the CIA, there was an undertone of quiet conviction that recalled Carrie's earlier coaxing: wouldn't it feel so good, such a relief, to be able to tell the truth? Even being able to disclose a partial truth must have felt like a balm to his tortured soul.

I suppose it was inevitable that Carrie would become Brody's de facto handler. She's at once the only person for the job and the last one they should have given it to, a tension that should be a rich source of suspense and psychodrama for at least the rest of this season. I know I can't be the only one who twitched nervously when she established the code and protocol for their future contacts: "I miss you," followed by meetings at her apartment, with an affair as their cover? This arrangement seems risky, to say the least, on a number of different fronts. Here's hoping Virgil continues to keep an eye out for our girl - because she's definitely going to need a guardian angel.

Random observations:

-There was only one side plot tonight (other than Jessica trying for the umpteenth time to figure out Brody's whereabouts, which is starting to become almost comically routine), and that was Dana's disastrous hit-and-run date with the boy I will continue to call Spawn of VP - or just Spawn for short. Not sure where this storyline is going, but there was clearly an ironic contrast between Brody finally being able to say something truthful to his wife, and Dana finally having to lie and conceal. Well, actually she doesn't have to lie at all and *shouldn't* conceal the incident, but whether she tells or stays silent, I have a feeling there will be dire consequences either way.

-Peter Quinn driving his knife through Brody's hand was probably the most jarring moment so far in "Homeland" - and lord knows there've been plenty of those. By no means should we condone such methods of "setting the table," so to speak, but you gotta admit: Peter Quinn is a badass.

-Does Carrie know that Brody killed Walker? The Gettysburg bomb maker? She certainly seems to know, or have guessed, that they're both dead. But Brody never copped to being responsible, which could create some complications down the road.

-So shady-lady journalist has been outed to the CIA. I hope this means her character either becomes more interesting or gets taken out quickly. Btw, I wonder if she ever went on that date with Estes? Maybe they've been boinking this whole time and we just haven't seen it. That could be interesting, at least in its implications.

-Saul's been very much in the background these last couple of episodes, yet he's still had an important role in ensuring that *Carrie* has a role. I did love that he totally called Peter Quinn on the real intent behind his outburst.


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