NotLinda and JaniaJania Talk Brody and Carrie

No question that in this spell of not seeing Damian on screen, I’ve been phoning it in a bit on this blog. (But, hey, what else is writing for the internet but phoning it in … literally?) During these “dry spells” as we like to call them, there always seems to be room to keep talking about Brody. So here we are, sharing a bit of the exchange between me and NotLinda in the comments on my “Was it Love” series.

You know what it was about these exchanges that made them particularly special to me? The fact that I learned something new and that my mind was changed a bit. Frankly I went into Homeland from Day One as a fan of Claire Danes. The guy playing against her was a new face to me, as he was to a lot of us. Of course that new face drew me in, marked his place in the Homeland world and all the various worlds he ever inhabited and will inhabit…grabbed a hold of all attention, never to let it go ever again. Still, I was always willing to talk for days about Carrie, and not so much about Brody, who, as I’ve always said and thought, was a dead man walking.

Exchanges with NotLinda were the first time, it pains me to say, that I saw more in Brody than a poor lost soul. I loved him, who didn’t, but, still, I knew he was gone before he ever even got here. NotLinda saw some light there though. Not necessarily hope, but, definitely some light. And I’m grateful for her showing me some of that light too!


NotLinda:

When I read your impassioned defense of Carrie in response to a recent comment I made, I reflected on your words. To wit: ” you must be watching a different series “.  So I went back; you were right. I was so desperate for signs of Brody that I missed all but the most obvious of the signs. A moment in season 5 when she is showing Jonas her timeline and says “Then I spent a couple of years at Langley” was especially moving. I had missed much of the arc of her character.

JaniaJania:

I know I get violently impassioned when it comes to Carrie. I realize full well that no one has ever changed anyone’s mind about their favorites or non-favorites. I still can’t help defending her till my fingers turn blue from all the writing :). The fact that I did manage to change your mind a bit….well I don’t know what to say. I think you may be the first person in the history of the internet to ever admit such a thing!

NotLinda:

Brody’s encountered with Carrie to view Hamid, one of his captors, also seemed to me to add a layer of complicity to their relationship. Their separate agendas, mutual attraction and now “our little secret”. It’s complicated….

Why, do you think, Carrie has to direct him to come in for the polygraph at his friend’s FUNERAL. To observe him, just to be with him? Why not a phone call?

When Brody calls Carrie to as you say “take her up on her offer”, she steps away. Saul knows she’s working Brody, this would be legitimate meeting. Clearly she wants this all to herself.

I love this bar scene! Each with the secret they keep, yet revealing themselves to each other. As lovers do. And they are having fun! We’ve seen them a lot and having fun has been no part of their current lives.

I think Brody’s need for Carrie is less mixed than her’s for him at this point; that he really is reaching out to her. He can’t help it IMO.

It was only on this watching that I realized the import of Carrie’s revelation that Hamid is dead! Whatever her motive, this betrays all protocol! It’s extraordinary.

JaniaJania:

Re the funeral: I think Carrie went there because she knew Brody would be there, but also, in some way, to pay her respects. Walker had been a face on her wall of POWs too, and, I think, she felt an obligation as CIA towards all those faces to help in saving them and bringing them home. Her approaching Brody about the polygraph there was a bit plotty, I agree. I guess she could’ve called him. I don’t think there was anything overly nefarious or manipulative about her talking to him then. Just a plot point, I think.

Re Carrie stepping away to take Brody’s call. I think you’re right, she wanted him all to herself. You know, it’s just occurred to me that I read most of Carrie’s actions often through the lens of feminism. She’s a woman in a man’s domain. Saul was her mentor, he’s picked up after her for a long time. She wants this one, this win with fleshing out this POW turned terrorist, all to herself. She wants to prove she can do it on her own. And she also knows that her intuition isn’t always trusted by her co-workers. Saul understands her strengths in a way no one else at the CIA does. But she knows that even he would run her over if he felt she was wrong or a danger to the CIA’s overall mission. She can trust him, but only so far.

Re the bar. Absolutely. The world falls away when they’re together. Thus their mutual draw. Having fun is NO part of either of their lives, apart from when they’re with each other.

Re the reveal of Hamid’s death. Right? It was bizarre. I was all “What is she doing??” Was she really that drunk? Or did she overestimate how sober she was and able to assess Brody’s reaction to the news? Maybe both? Who knows. His reaction of course was unreadable too. Nothing beyond: Shut up and let me climb all over you.

NotLinda:

It is interesting to me that neither ever closes their eyes or even blinks. Eyes wide open!

In the polygraph scene they take turns calling one another’s bluff. What a match! “Exhilarating as hell” indeed!

I saw a different Brody than I’d seen before pull up in that car, deadly serious and our girl picks up the gauntlet.

So random thoughts:

Did Brody pass the razor? It seems Hamid knows exactly who Brody is and of his mission.

After the car sex Brody is shown coming home in broad daylight. Where the heck was he? Passed out or with Nazirs network?

Hamid was a survivor of the raid in which Brody was found, so Brody’s already been living with Nazir and been recruited. The piss incident may have been in the first 5 years.

JaniaJania:

I think Brody did what he was programmed to do. So, yes, I think he did assess where the camera was and he made sure he was off camera and passed the razor.

I think both Carrie and Brody slept it out in their cars, separately. Both knew they were too blotto to drive home in that condition. Brody may have been getting further directions on what to do about Hamid. Maybe.

The timeline of Brody’s “rescue” has always bugged me. He had long hair at that point, but when he was with Nazir he got cleaned up and shaved. So Nazir tortured him, then took him home, then sent him back to the cave to grow his hair again to make it look like he’d been there the whole time? I guess that’s what we’re supposed to believe. Most of the torture happened before Nazir took him home, so, yes, I think the incident with Hamid happened in those first few months of his captivity. Hamid was also put back in that cave, I guess, or just always stayed there, while Brody went away to get Nazir’s programming.

We know Carrie sees sex as an exertion of power, a way for her to have control over her own body and mind. She’s not a damsel in distress nor is she any of the other tropes of women characters who would only have sex with men she cared for. Her having sex with the bad guy makes total sense if you view her as using sex for control. She’s not weakened, nor made vulnerable, by it. There are other ways in which she is vulnerable, but sex isn’t one of them. Brody, on the other hand, is vulnerable to any touch, because of what he’s been through. He can’t let Jessica close to him because he fears losing whatever semblance of control he’s able to have over his own body, a control that was ripped away from him when he was tortured. With Carrie, it’s different because there is no expectation of one having more control than the other or any obligation to start things off with dinner and roses. He can use sex for the release it gives him, without having to think about the consequences of hurting someone he loves. Carrie cannot be hurt by sex. She’s empowered by it.

NotLinda

Sex can certainly be power but not always or perhaps not exclusively. In this particular case Carrie seems uncalculating to me. She’s reckless, overcome with desire. Brody has been impotent with his wife. The expectations and burdens of the past may play a role in his and Jessica’s estrangement. To feel his physical manhood restored (I’m trying to be delicate, inoffensive here) is wonderful to him. This encounter is beyond satisfying to them – it’s ecstatic.

JaniaJania:

Agree! Yes, I don’t think this was a calculated move on Carrie’s part. Just that it wasn’t all that inconcievable either, after the fact. Your first thought is “what???”, then it’s like “Oh, this is different, and it makes sense!”

NotLinda:

Seriously though, it’s this kind of layering that makes Brody/Carrie so enthralling for me. The dark side of their relationship really resonates with me. I know I’m in the silly position of disagreeing with the writers creators and the actors but what I see isn’t broken attracting broken. I see a deep intuitive Knowing of each other. I believe that feeling is the essence of falling in love. You and me our private understanding. I believe that the reality is the essence of loving. I really know you and I really love you.

They both do terrible things to each other but they come back.

It comes to me that broken winged and knowing viewpoints are not mutually exclusive.

JaniaJania:

I see deep deep tragedy in their love and that doesn’t always have to connote the negative reading of “broken”, I think. If we really want to get philosophical about it, and given that we’re honest with ourselves about the fleeting nature of happiness, it’s not a leap to assert that tragedy is the only lasting truth. And that makes it resoundingly beautiful. The darkness totally resonates with me too. I wouldn’t be writing about it otherwise.

NotLinda:

Someone was watching him. Oh yes Jania. And here she is and she enjoys standing on the railroad tracks. Here she is going drinking with a suspect who lies very well, who’s on a break from his wife though his wife doesn’t know that.

On this viewing (again thanks to your series) I saw Carrie much more clearly. First her nerves show when he turns to get her some of her white liquor in the dive, her transformation when she runs to load and secure the pistol, in their sober embrace the camera holds on her, out of the moment, considering, and as you pointed out she listens carefully as he calls for Issa. I agree – she is gone but at the same time “always working”. As the Salon post says it’s completely believable. At some point we all learn we can feel two emotions, have two motivations at the same time. With Carrie and Brody the stakes are so high. It’s incredibly moving knowing the whole story and watching this play out; still rooting for their peace and freedom.

The brash sunlight, indeed. This after romance segment really looked different to me this time. The look on Damian’s face when she says Yorkshire Gold had me hit rewind! The disappointment. He’s hurt, he’s angry, he’s lying! She’s right on every point. Knowing that for certain lifts this part to a whole new level for me. It’s all there if you can see it! What good actors! Yet he still tells her things he would share with no one else about Tom about Nazir.

I believe Brody really is hurt and angry. To have this ripped away so suddenly. It doesn’t matter that she right. Maybe it hurts more! When she catches up with him and says the important parts were real I saw him do one of those infinitesimal Damian pauses then, Carrie, fuck you. For being right for ruining everything.

JaniaJania:

Before the audience is certain that Carrie is indeed right, we all think his tears at home are over cheating, breaking up his beautiful family for this crazy CIA agent who played him. But, after, we know he cries because he knows he’s now that much closer to being outed, to this whole thing ending, to everything crashing. He knows there’s no turning back, yet he still grieves over letting it get so far. Of being weak (like he says in The Clearing in S2) of breaking and not being the man he could have been. And now Carrie knows, and there’s no going back. Brody starts from a position of loss and keeps losing more and more. It’s harrowing drama. How lucky we are that Damian got to play such a role.

Yes!!! He was hurt. You just barely see it, but, of course, it’s there! What you do see more obviously is that his defenses go up immediately, the second after he says “I didn’t have tea at Langley”. (But when he’s saying it, he’s hurt!) He’s in soldier mode, enough so that he snuck back into the cabin while she was getting firewood and found the gun. And that coldness in his eyes when he’s holding it up to her “you looking for this?” The softness at his core has been sealed up and he’s in survival mode.

That ‘fuck you’ is totally his frustration that he got so close to her, that he wanted it…this crazy exhiliratingly intelligent woman, his new drinking buddy. And now she’s fucking ruined it by being so goddam smart. (and that fact speaks again to the iconic feminist character of Carrie Mathison….her brain drives her, giving her these incredible insights into all of those around her, while also being the reason for much of her pain)

NotLinda:

Absolutely! I also think (feel) he’s grieving Carrie and what she did for him.

I had another thought about Carrie – this is the first time he’s been up on her in the cat and mouse game. He knows something that she does not: he’s guilty. Of course she knows something he doesn’t: he did not kill Tom.

It’s my belief that Brody really does not believe himself to be a terrorist; that his suicide tape is the true expression of his motivations. The back story makes his case. Damian made an interesting point in an interview – Brody didn’t think he was ever going home again. Hence his love for Issa and Issa’s for him. I noticed at this viewing that his wounds are still fresh. We learn through Carrie’s timeline that the fallow yellow was only a few months. Does that contain his entire stay with Nazir or only the time since Issa died? I can only speculate but I think the former.

All of which impacts his affair with Carrie. This commitment, this reason for living is more real, more immediate than his “real” life. Issa is dead and Carrie is off limits. You’re right, all that gives his life shape now is his own death “a dead man”. Ugh it gives me chill to even write that.

It was really painful to watch his call to Carrie. He comes on to her so strongly. She’s not wrong to assume this is going to be romantic; he leads her to think so! I can only think that he feels he has to see her to be sure she gets the point and that he is dying to see her again one last time. His gaze when they say goodby. It’s a terrible thing he does to her but I think his moment in the car is not regret but his own heart breaking. He loves her, too.

The fascinating aspect of these three seasons of Homeland is that this relationship, based on an existential need for each other, finds the lovers almost constantly out of synch. Not so unusual, I suppose, in drama but it never felt contrived or manipulated to me.

“Why did he do this to her?” because she called him and revealed the basic outline of fallow yellow and, since he’s not a terrorist, she expects he’ll be willing to fill in the details. Now he knows everything she knows. She doesn’t know about his commitment to Issa’s cause and he uses it against her. He, again, uses their love against her. They do terrible things to each other.

I think Dana saved his life not Carrie. After her call he embraces life, he’s no longer a dead man. So he goes around tying up loose ends and Carrie is the loosest end in his life. He demolishes her at the police station. After all he really isn’t the man she thinks he is. His rationalization? Did you notice Brody asks why she did all she did “for what – for fun?” Practically the same thing she’ll ask him in”Q&A”. He embraces Chris in the exact way he held Issa, apologizes to Jessica “for everything”, executes Walker, and makes a new deal with Nazir.( Does anyone think Nazir has any intention to let him “work from the inside”? )While he’s enjoying the view from his rooftop, Carrie has lost everything.

“Was it love?” I think not yet.

JaniaJania:

Yes, true that meeting Issa gives us Brody’s motivations, but my argument is that the only motivation he needed was the fact that he was tortured, systematically and expertly abused for 8 years. I don’t think the Homeland folks wanted it to be so clearcut good vs evil though. The way Carrie describes it in Q & A…he systematically took you apart then gave you a boy to love and put you back together in the way he wanted you to be…or some thing. Anyway, THAT is the way I read Brody’s motivations, not simply as revenge for the death of a child. Brody’s motivations were maliciously constructed, they weren’t just bourne out of a personal need to see Walden pay for killing Issa.

The fallow yellow was the time after Issa died, when Nazir was cut off, in mourning. That’s the way Carrie saw it. She tracked him thru his connections to others, and during that time he had no contact with anyone. Except Brody, I guess. As far as we know the only reason he brought Brody home was in order to teach Issa English. (another weak premise, IMO) So chances are he hadn’t got off the grid then, only after Issa died. Like I said, I would have found it more believable had Issa not been Nazir’s son at all, but just some “bait” to get Brody to turn.

Yep, a dead man. Only time he seems to know what he’s doing is when he has a gun in his hand. Otherwise, he flounders. No place to drop anchor. Until that brief time with Carrie in the cabin. Since then he’s back afloat trying to do what he came back to life, temporarily, to do.

I don’t know about him attempting to tie up a loose end with Carrie at the police station. He’s already home free, she’s the one who was carted away by the police, the “crazy lady from the CIA”. She’s no longer a loose end, especially now that he also knows about her disease and that her job knows about her disease and because of it she is unreliable untrustworthy …no one will believe her now. True, he does also know how smart she is, so there may be some fear there. So, yeah, maybe he did go to the police station to make sure she was really down and out of service. And he made sure she came even further down and further out of service. It was cruel. But, maybe, just maybe, he went there to see her face again and to somehow communicate, without words, just by his presence that he was thankful that she’d saved his miserable life. I watched that scene and in an effort to block out the horrible things he was saying to her I found myself repeating a mantra that I imagined was the subtext to everything coming out of his mouth: you saved my life, you saved my life, you saved my life. What if he had said that instead of the nonsense he spewed?

That eternal “what if” element is the beauty in all tragedy. The more tragic it is, the more beautiful the possibilities on the other side of it. More than drama, more than a thriller, Homeland in the first three seasons was straight up no holds barred tragedy.

NotLinda:

I finally get it. Our visions of Brody are completely irreconcilable. I’ll always be grateful that you showed me sides of Carrie that, in my grief, I missed.

Janiajania:

Really? I’m not getting that at all. The only ones with whom my vision of Brody is irreconcilable are the Carrie fans who’ll never see what she saw in him. I do see what she saw.

Irreconcilable in that I call him a terrorist? Explain please?

Notlinda:

As an explanation I can only describe Brody’s journey and character as I see it. Nazir has captured two very valuable assets Tom and Brody. He has no specific use for them yet but breaking them down is the first step in any of his scenarios. Tom comes to it earlier but Brody requires years of torture manipulation and isolation to come not to conviction but to utter despair.

Then a man offers occasional solace – a drink of water an embrace. One day a door is left unlocked, he discovers a bright room of prayerful welcoming men. He is offered the comfort and hope of Islam. As a next step Brody’s brought into the home and family of the kind man, ostensibly to to teach his son fluent English. His son’s education is not Nazir’s true goal, he continues to prime his asset, not with ideology but with hope and love. If Nazir has a plan Walden’s attack changes everything. He seizes his son’s death as the opportunity to enlist Brody as a terrorist agent under the guise of vengeance, justice and ridding America of the evil within. It’s a long game that becomes even longer as the story progresses.

Brody accepts Nazir’s view of a meaning for his life. It’s grounded in his natural sense of duty, his Islamic conversion and his grief on losing Issa. “All of life’s wasted time is behind you now.” He’s committed to die for these causes.

Then the plan brings him back to hole, back to the military and finally back to his family. He’s traumatized, alienated and he’s got a big, dangerous secret. He is unprepared to deal with, if not surprised by, his conflicting emotions. Real life holds few comforts and he recommits to the mission. Then this woman “pushes into my life” and the stakes go sky high.

So, not a dead man, not programmed. I don’t think Brody ever lost his humanity but, rather, his humanity was used against him. That’s the man Carrie fell in love with.

JaniaJania:

Ah! So introducing Brody to hope and love was a part of the torture, part of the task of breaking him. Yes, I totally agree. I think we just said the same thing in different words. You’re imagining that Nazir did have another plan for Brody if Issa had not been killed. That’s the leap I guess I never made, but I see that could be the case.

When I say Brody is a dead man, I don’t mean he’s lost his humanity. That human part of him is EXACTLY the man Carrie fell in love with. She didn’t fall in love with a terrorist, she fell in love with Brody, who he was, who he could be, the man who felt such frustration that he had not ended up like that Vietnam vet, a good strong man who withstood the odds and was never turned. If Brody had been fully programmed, he wouldn’t have felt the regret, the guilt, the “what could have been” ness of it all. When I say he’s a dead man, I mean in that he came back not having a belief in his own humanity. You’re right, his humanity was used against him. Thus, he no longer trusts it and he doesn’t even see it. Until Carrie shows it to him.

I don’t think our readings of Brody are as irreconcilable as you say.

NotLinda:

Love and hope are the set up; Issa’s death is the weaponization of Nazir’s asset, Brody. I don’t think Abu Nazir had another plan per se. Rather that he had a pair of weapons at the ready. Walden provided the target. “Nazir plays the long game.”

Perhaps irreconcilable is too strong a word. I don’t see Brody as an empty vessel but we clearly agree that Carrie saw him, knew him. At this point in the story they don’t trust each other, nor should they, but their connection slowly incrementally grows.

Forgot to say I appreciate the reminder about the fallow yellow. Carrie did identify it as a period of grief or loss.


And with that, we put Brody back on the shelf for another day. Thanks for reading! 🙂

10 thoughts on “NotLinda and JaniaJania Talk Brody and Carrie”

  1. I think this is WHAT HAPPENS when two passionate Homeland fans, one is more passionate about Carrie and the other is more passionate about Brody, have a passionate talk about Carrie and Brody… Fantastic exchange attesting to the fact that we, fans, are really invested in these characters and that deep, very deep thoughts and feelings may exist when it comes to loving and caring about some fictional work… and that we start talking about these characters almost like people we know and we have in our lives.

    But then there is me: a passionate fan who has never loved any fictional character more than Brody ever. I always thought (and also claimed) I would get over it, and I would move on with my life and to other Damian characters keeping Brody behind in his special place… I just cannot. I mean I of course moved on, I can very easily say I am in love with Billions, I probably never watched any show with the attention and care I put into this show, and I REALLY enjoy Damian as Bobby Axelrod. I do not find myself constantly thinking of Brody or I do not wish that he would go back to Homeland… And I am still watching Homeland and I think Season 6 was pretty strong. BUT I cannot go back to Homeland S1 and S2 and watch it. I always say and take pleasure in saying that no one can keep Season 1 and Season 2 away from us, the rabid Brody fans, but then again I cannot even go and watch them. It hurts even to think about going back and watch. So I just don’t. WHY? What is your diagnosis? Will I get better? Or am I doomed forever?

  2. I only just found these comments. Sweet. I loved having the exchange with JJ (oooo what will she say next!?) and reading it all put together. Good job, Jania!
    I’m surprised that you have not rewatched Brody, D’ista. Watching it with Jania was my third time through! For me on the other hand, I have not moved on to other characters. I mean I enjoy watching Damian (what’s not to like?) but I must admit there have been projects I’ve walked away from thinking “There’s an hour or two I’ll never get back.” I envy other fans love of Billions and I’ll watch again but so far – no love lost.
    Thinking about this obsession, I must admit that I was mad about True Detective especially Mathew McConaughey and about the book The Goldfinch. Reflected on them ….. a lot! Last night I got a text from a friend, “We finished season 3 of Homeland. Good lord. How did you stand it??” I nearly cried reading that. So I’m saying I’ve been known to obsess. I too wonder how long this will go on, frankly. My husband says I’m always 100%. Well, so be it. Truly, though, you are not doomed; one day this will all be a dream. Then the why will be answered.
    Oh Brody

    1. Just to be on the record: I watched Homeland S1-S3 three times but back in 2013 – 2014. I know most of it by heart except for that horrific scene I have never seen and will never do. But then I could not go back to Homeland again. It hurts even to think about going back. I was not obsessed with it but I LOVED True detective with Matthew McConaughey, too!

    2. I’ve got S1-S3 memorized too and I’ll watch it again when the mood strikes in fits and starts. Got the DVD set only recently and have yet to watch the extras there. This show will never go away completely! I swear every viewing, I fall more in love with Brody. (that possibly would not be the case had I not met Brody fans such as you)

      re True Detective. Loved the first season, although I had to watch the last episode, fast forwarded, through my hands covering my eyes. The crypt with all those bones was just way more than I could handle. And the Yellow King, Silence of the Lambs level of creepy. What a surprise to see the actor who played the Yellow King in such a dramatically different role in Billions. Orrin Bach is the Yellow King!

      1. Oh yeah I was shocked when I found out Orrin Bach was Yellow King! One of the best things about Billions is its remarkable cast in supporting roles!

Leave a Reply