Don't forget that 'Homeland' has done this to you before. Just like they confirmed much earlier than you may have expected last year that Brody was in fact in league with terrorists, the show's creators threw out our expectations last week that Brody would evade capture or that this season would be about the CIA's initial pursuit.
Episode 5 of Season 2 opened with almost no predictable plotlines for Carrie and Brody (except for those fostered by the inevitable last-time/coming-next clue-fest promos for idiots). What would happen to Brody in CIA custody? Had Carrie blown her mission by confronting him last week? It's a credit to the show that it gave up on its familiar surveillance-of-the-unassuming-suspect motif and got us guessing again.
Spanning what appeared to be the 24 hours following Brody's arrest, this week's action treated us to nearly a full hour of intense mind games. By the time the credits roll, we get the sense that these characters know exactly what they're doing, and they aren't about to show their hands to each other or to us. This episode marked a reassuring return to the show being smarter than us, after a few weeks blemished by implausible plot details and clunky dialogue.
The episode begins outside the interrogation room. Carrie paces a grimy hallway where the ancient-looking paint peeling off the floor glows bright red off the concrete, foreshadowing the "24"-esque violence to come.
Citing her emotional instability and tendency to go off-script, Quinn exiles Carried from the interrogation and kicked things off himself. This answers our questions about whether her move against Brody was perceived in the agency as a good idea.
Quinn appears to be progressing competently through the interview, but even after he lays his cards on the table by showing Brody the incriminating video, his subject doesn't yield an inch. In apparent frustration, Quinn whips a pen knife out of his pocket and stabs Brody through the hand. Saul, Carrie, and someone with a syringe full of [tentanus? morphine? truth serum?] rush in to remove Quinn.
It seems we were treated to some political commentary about the perils of the rogue interrogator, the poorly supervised guard, the fragility of the American legal process (this can apparently all be explained through Quinn's off-hand comment about broad national security authority from Congress). Quinn, rather than being banished from the CIA and charged with assault, calmly returns to the observation room and takes a seat at Saul's side.
As Carrie assumes the reins of the interrogation and begins her turn in the room by offering Brody a fresh bottle of water, Quinn's "every good cop needs a bad cop" line implies that he knew exactly what he was doing. Carrie, too, is ready to play along; rather than walking off the case after such a display of brutality, she performs her role with an expertise that shows she's been there before.
In a skillfully executed maneuver, Carrie applies her knowledge of Brody's relationship with Abu Nazir to emulate what she knows of Brody's mentor. Like Nazir before her, she "saves" him from torture, offers kindness and empathy, and then makes the big sell to Brody's conscience to convince him to cooperate with his new captors. She also uses their romantic history to "turn" her prisoner.
Touting the psychic virtues of coming clean, Carrie offers a few pearls of apparent truth, telling Brody she wants him to leave his family and be with her. And despite the fact that she just had him arrested, we still believed her.
Whether Brody finds this credible is more difficult to decipher. By the end of the conversation, though, he's acknowledged the plot to detonate a bomb and kill Vice President Walden, named names (including those of Tom Walker, Bassel the unfortunate tailor, and Roya Hammad, his journalist handler). Most importantly, Brody has agreed to cooperate with the CIA's pursuit to take down Abu Nazir.
Relieved that he's willing to play ball, the Langley staff lets Brody sleep it off on the interrogation room floor before dusting him off and sending him home, good as new except for that hole in his hand. After Carrie drops him off at home, Brody tells Jess that he's home for good, and that his mysterious absence can be attributed to his cooperation with the CIA -- and what do you know, it DOES look like a relief to go with the honest (if vague and incomplete) answer, maybe just this once.
Although Jess and their son Chris look happy to have him back, Dana isn't so easily impressed by her dad's return. Her skepticism might have something to do with having caught a glimpse of Carrie driving off from the Brody household.
Dana went on a date with that god awful kid of VP Walden, who apparently enjoys foreign films and quoting his therapist (gross). Mercifully, instead of the usual awkward banter, we also got some action: Trying to dodge his security detail, the VP's kid runs over a pedestrian and flees the scene of the crime. Dana begs him to go back and help but, well, you know how it is. At least he'll have more than daddy issues to talk about with the therapist he "used to" see.
The episode ends with Brody back in his warmly lit home with his (mostly) welcoming family, and Carrie pouring herself a glass of white wine, alone, in the dark. Carrie feels vindicated because not only was she right about Brody, but she also got valuable information from him, on the record, with her coworkers listening in. But at what cost? Her overshares in the interrogation room sounded genuine, and those were also on the record.
Carrie suggests that because she was right all along about Brody, she isn't "really" mentally ill. But we know that these options aren't mutually exclusive. The ending juxtaposition of family-man Brody with sad lonely Carrie suggests that Brody might, in the end, be right about her unhealthy obsession with him.
But as we move on to week six, there's one obvious question: Is Brody really going to help? Who's getting played here?Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun