The “Other” Love Story in Homeland: Nicholas and Jessica Brody

First things first: Many thanks go to my partner Bookworm for inspiring me to write this post. She, more than a month ago, posted a lovely fan fiction in which she imagined Jess and Brody’s wedding day! And she got me thinkin’… She got me thinking about the “other” love story in Homeland that we never really witnessed except for little bits and pieces…

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

Jessica and Nicholas Brody… A beautiful couple united by love and separated by war… High school sweethearts… They start dating at 16 and get married probably in their early 20s… They have a simple, yet happy life: A house. A car. Probably a mortgage. Two beautiful kids. Football and BBQ on the weekend. Your picture-perfect American family… Well… until life happens…

UPDATE November 15, 2015: I just found this sweet photo online…

source: saywho.com
source: saywho.com

Jess and Brody on their wedding day? Sweet! My hunch is this is either a part of a flashback scene that did not make it to the final cut… Or it is just a photo taken for a photo frame at Brody house! I LOVE it either way!

So, yeah, back to the story:  Brody goes to Iraq and Jess gets word that he is MIA. She holds out hope for years that Brody will come back but finally decides to bury him and allows herself to love again… and loves no other than Brody’s best friend Mike who has always been there for her and been a surrogate father to her children. The two are at a point in their relationship that they will move in together…

And the phone rings: “Jessica, it’s me. Brody.”

Finding out that a loved one that you think has been dead for years should be as big a shock, if a happy one, as finding out a loved one is dead. And, Jessica may well think this is the biggest shocker in her life but she doesn’t even have a clue about what else is in store for her…

source: imdb.com
source: imdb.com

Brody & Jess love story is, in fact, over when we meet them. However, neither Jess nor Brody nor we, the viewers, know about it yet… Brody rightly admits it to Jess in their most intimate moment much later:

“I was fucked the moment I left for Iraq. We all were.”

The couple’s first night together is heartbreaking. Jessica is doing her best to welcome home the man she has loved for the longest time with her sexy “negligee” and a bottle of wine… But the romantic moment quickly turns into a horror movie as Jess notices Brody’s scars and freaks out… followed by Brody turning into an animal and almost raping her…

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

It turns out this scene was filmed early in the shoot and Morena Baccarin explains why this timing makes sense: “When we shot that first intimate scene, it was very early on in the filming schedule. I think we had known each other for about three weeks. But it worked because we were like strangers.”

Then come the dark nights with Brody having awful nightmares and even attacking Jess one night in his sleep… And, when he realizes what he’s done, he withdraws himself farther and farther away from her, grabs his pillow and sleeps on the bedroom floor… And, in the the saddest and the most disturbing scene of the show — yes, it is the most disturbing for me even in comparison to torture and violence scenes — Brody tells Jess to take off her night shirt, masturbates and goes back to his pillow on the bedroom floor when he’s done… This is too much to take for any human being…

And not just for Jessica, but for Brody, too… He’s also struggling… He’s now back to his wife and children whose love helped him keep going for eight years in captivity, and now he does not know these people that he calls family. He and Jess, two people that have been together since they were 16, are complete strangers. Brody does not know how to deal with that. Moreover, he realizes the relationship between Jess and Mike was beyond friendship and this is also quite hard for him to take even though deep inside he knows Jess thought he was dead for a long time and Mike was always there for his family.

Brody is desperately looking for the love he once had for Jess… For example, when he takes Dana for a walk to a chain link fence and shows her a padlock with his and Jess’ initials on it from the times they were dating; it’s not just to show his daughter the love he and Jess shared a long time ago, but also to see the proof to that love with his own eyes…  Brody wants to believe in his love for Jess, with whom he is not even able to sleep now…

source: Showtime

I believe one deep down reason for Brody and Jess not being able to connect physically is the fact that they just cannot connect psychologically. Brody and Jess cannot talk. They are never ready to talk. And it is not just that Brody does not share with Jess about his horrible experience as a POW, but Jess also does not share with him about her life in his absence. And this unspoken eight years of their lives tear them more and more apart every single day…

Morena Baccarin says many fans told her they were rooting for Jess and Brody to be together.(source: Homeland Revealed by Matthew Hurwitz. 2014. Chronicle Books. Page 34). Well… I am not going to lie to you. I am one of those fans that rooted for Jess and Brody… And, in fact, for a long time… until I saw… no, not The Weekend… Not even The Weekend in which Brody finds this recognition and intimacy with a woman who has gone through experiences similar to his made me think it was over for Brodys… Probably because The Weekend was more of a cat and mouse for me than two people bonding — don’t get me wrong there was some real connection between Brody and Carrie in that cabin, but not at a level to convince me that Jess was out of the picture. So I rooted for Jess and Brody until much later… And they had those little moments in their relationship that the hopeless romantic in me could not help saying “Oh maybe they will make it” without believing it 😀

Jess knowing about The Weekend, accepting the fling her husband had with Carrie and being able to move on from that tells me she is strong and tries her best to do things right with Brody. And once Brody becomes a congressman, Jess seems to very much enjoy the company of her husband — it’s a cliche, but they really look like a new Jack & Jackie — as well as the glamorous D.C. life.

nickjess

I believe even the way she does deal with Brody’s new faith by not dealing with it is all about her feeling very happy about where her family stands. Jess is very protective of her family and so her disbelief, her outrage, her angry “this cannot happen!” at finding out about Brody’s being Muslim is all about, first, her being hurt that her husband has not been honest with her and second and maybe more importantly, her being freaked out about their now happy life falling apart… which brings me to Jess’ high point in public’s eye!

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

The evening Jess needs to fill for Brody and give a speech at a fund-raising for the Iraq war veterans is a turning point for her in so many ways. It is the first time she opens her heart to complete strangers about the traumatic experience she and Brody had upon his return: “If someone had warned me how he’d look at me as if he didn’t know me anymore… how violent his nightmares would be that he would attack me in his sleep… how he wouldn’t know what to say to the kids those first few weeks… how hard intimacy of any kind would be for him… If someone had actually warned me, in plain English, how hard coming home would be for him…” It is also a moment that Jessica feels she is, in fact, enjoying the public spotlight and the prospects of being the SLOTUS 🙂  However, that evening also marks the beginning of the end for the Brodys.

Jess and Brody have their fallout after Brody does not show up for the fund-raiser and says he had a car problem which Jess does not believe…. And she’s right. It’s not just this one lie, but Jess has been lied to by Brody many many times and now she thinks they may have turned a corner and BAM! Another lie! It should hurt badly… Anyhow… Then comes Q & A and the rest is history… I now know Jess and Brody are so OVER. I believe in conversation as the most intimate human relationship. And, Brody and Carrie can talk… This is LOVE. And same goes for Jess and Mike… That is LOVE, too…

source: Showtime
source: Showtime

So… we never see the beginning of this love story but we definitely see the very end of it. The conversation Jess and Brody have in the car in Season 2 Episode 11 is probably the first and only time since Brody’s return the two are completely honest and open with each other — exactly like when they were 16. They just admit to each other and maybe even to themselves at that point that it is just “beyond” them…

Why not see it again and maybe shed a few tears for this love story that had in fact ended the day Brody left for Iraq…

FIRST LOVE is something nobody forgets. So I don’t think Jess could ever forget Brody, either. Her response to Dana saying “Dad was a psycho, he ruined our lives” with “Your father was a lot of things” is very telling.

Sigh. And a true confession: I watched a couple of scenes just to refresh myself about the stuff I talk in this post. And… I have realized that I just cannot get over Brody. I just can’t. SIGH.

source: tv.com
source: tv.com

Author: Damianista

Academic, Traveler, Blogger, Runner, Theatre Lover, Wine Snob, Part-time New Yorker, and Walking Damian Lewis Encyclopedia :D Procrastinated about a fan's diary on Damian Lewis for a while and the rest is history!

24 thoughts on “The “Other” Love Story in Homeland: Nicholas and Jessica Brody”

  1. Thank you! I enjoyed that very much. It really bothered me at the end of the star when we do not get to see Jess, Chris and Dana. Oh we get ‘poor Carrie’ but we don’t get his family who loved him. I’m not accepting Alex Gansa’s excuse for their absence either. Jess and Brody’s struggles were half of the Season 1 story and contributed greatly to its success.

    Thank you for posting about it.

    You are not alone. I can’t get over Brody either and it is one of a few reasons Homeland S5 is not on my ‘watch list’. I would spend the entire season wanting to throw something through the TV screen.

    1. Have I ever told ya I LOVE you? 😀 It feels great to be in your company and hey we don’t need to get over Brody, do we? I LOVED writing about Jess and Brody because they have a story, too; one that has not been talked about much thanks to the amazing chemistry Brody and Carrie had. And thank you so much for inspiring me with your wonderful fan fiction about their wedding day — it brought tears to my eyes. I just love and miss that man. It also bothered me that we never got to see Brody family again and I don’t get Gansa’s excuse, either. I think they just wanted to reset the entire show and they did. And a confession: I will probably see Season 5. Not because I am so looking forward to it, but my mom watches it, and she wants to talk about it, and it is me that I got her hooked so it’s sort of my duty to watch and discuss 🙂 And it’s so funny that she loves the show “even though there is not one single person to look at” and sees this as the show’s success 😀 You know what? I really hope we get together at some point and watch Homeland together and MELT! 🙂

  2. I, too, did not want the Jess & Brody relationship to end. Ironically I thought the Q & A episode confirmed the depth of the Jess-Brody bond (as well as the Carrie-Brody one) because Jess just knew somehow that something was wrong and she was concerned, caring, and forgiving enough to want him back. That was a complete reversal for her but a deeply meaningful one in his time of greatest need. It verified that there was always some depth of understanding between them even after all that had happened.

    Thanks for bringing back these memories, as powerful as ever.

    1. It’s my pleasure and it was great to re-watch at least a few scenes and re-live the memories 🙂 And happy good to know I am in great company about Jess/Brody relationship. I thought I was just one of the few that rooted for them. It’s so interesting what you thought about Q & A. It’s certainly true that Jess realized something was wrong – she goes to the hotel to find him and all so I think things are still not over on her side then or she’s still trying. Ah I really wish we could have done a conference or something on Homeland with theme panels and people talking. I love hearing different point of views so much. Thanks for visiting & reading!

  3. Tbh I didn’t read the whole text but it was because…Man, Brody lets me naseous.
    I couldn’t finish the first season and I didn’t try again and neither do I feel like I’d try to finish it so soon.
    Brody didn’t almost rape Jess, he really did RAPE her. He totally ignored her state and the way she pratically stopped reacting to his trusts into her, it is rape. You don’t need to say ‘no’ or ‘stop’ to ‘not give consent’ and I get that he was struggling and he was really really bad and probably wasn’t aware of all this, but this…
    Then, after all the shit he gives her, treating her as an object (yes I thought the masturbation scene was the most disguisting/disturbing thing), he beats his best friend for having something with her wife while everybody thought he was dead for YEARS and then fucking flirts with Claire and fucks her in the same night and start making sex with her as much as he can and looks like ‘i am so badass’ when he treaps Claire’s tentative to pick him lying.
    ITS FUCKING DISGUISTING AND I COULDN’T, I couldn’t with it all.
    I just needed to say it.
    ps: god, the flashback when he is going to the war was so cute and then…ALL THIS GARBAGE
    Yes, war brutalized him, but god…

    1. I understand your perspective – you are looking from Jess’ side of things, and it looks pretty black and white. But as you also agree in the end, the war brutalized Brody. The was broke him. Brody is not the guy that left for Iraq 8 years ago. He’s a broken individual. He absolutely needs help that he doesn’t get from anyone – even from his wife, because she just does have no clue about what he went through, and nobody talked to her to prepare her for his return. So, I don’t think we can really treat Brody as a normal man. He certainly has PTSD, he probably has not been in an intimate relationship with a woman for the last eight years and just masturbated all alone that this is probably how he knows about sexual pleasure right now… He knows he has to love his wife, but eight years passed, and they are two complete strangers and maybe knowing that she’s freaked out about his scars and everything complicates any kind of intimacy with her… On the other hand, Carrie understands. But the car sex with Carrie was initiated by Carrie who is working “24/7” so in those episodes, including The Weekend, Carrie is playing Brody as much as he is playing him, isn’t she? We also see her doing the same in Season 4 (no spoilers 🙂 and say oh this is so familiar… But I agree masturbation scene was very disturbing and the way Damian Lewis portrayed this broken and violent guy in such a realistic way was mind-blowing! It’s of course your decision to see or not see Homeland but I’d still highly recommend it! 🙂 And thanks so much for visiting and reading!

  4. Great article. To me, it was clear from The Weekend that Jessica and Brody’s relationship was over because Brody admitted in that episode that he was unable to talk to his wife anymore. The moment he said that, I knew it was over.

    If he hadn’t found out that Carrie was playing with him, I think he would have honestly thought of pursuing a more serious relationship with Carrie. Instead, he ended the weekend feeling betrayed and deeply hurt. He was now truly alone without anyone to talk to, anyone to love.

    1. Thank you so much!!!! You are so right, in fact, when they walked to that waterfall together, Brody confided in Carrie that he could not sleep with his wife and he could not talk to him, either… I was still hopeful thinking that time heals… and there was a period later (after Brody basically made Carrie get into treatment) that they were OK for some time… but I think it was good on the facade but not really inside… I think Brody also played Carrie on the Weekend but I am with you that there was a real connection between them and he could have pursued it further should he have not found out that she’s been working him for so long! Thanks so much for visiting and reading — it’s great to see you here, know you from Twitter, we had fun exchanges earlier! All the best!

  5. Thanks for the post Damienista, you gave such an interesting perspective of the Jess and Brody arch. I watched Homeland, seasons 1-3, for the first time last week. I could not get enough! I was devastated when Brody died, literally doing the ugly cry. I haven’t been able to get into season 4, I just keep going back to my favourite season 1 & 2 episodes and the season 3 finale. I loved the story between Brody and Carrie, two immensely disturbed people who found a semblance of peace with one another and a strange kind of love. I think Morena was excellent at portraying Jess Brody – the Brody family was integral to generating an image of Brody’s humanity I think. They represented the man he wanted to be and the life he’d wanted to live, but was so far beyond his reach when he returned from the war. I wish the show had done something with Brody’s first family and Frannie after his death to give that story-line, basically the crux of the original premise, some sense of closure.
    On Damien Lewis, I used to watch Life a few years ago, which I also really enjoyed – he’s brilliant, but for the first time in Homeland I thought he was actually sexy. Testament to his skill as a performer who can embody an incredible range.

    1. Dear Newbie Homeland, thanks so much for reading us and for your kind words! I agree with you that his family life gave a human side to Brody both in terms of his vulnerability and his trying to be the man he used to be…But his love was still genuine in particular for his daughter with whom he connected with much better than anyone in the family. I don’t know why they cut the Brody family altogether from the show after Brody died but it is probably to reset the entire story — that is exactly what they did with S4. I saw S4 but exactly like you I could not get into it probably because, for me, Brody was THE show. I have not watched S5 yet, I am hearing it’s great, may be the best season of the series, but I doubt anything can measure up to S1 of Homeland which is one of the BEST things that ever happened to TV. Still, S2 is my favorite, it is a bit over the top and so good exactly for that! I loved the possibility of the impossible love between, in Damian’s words, “two broken-winged birds” Carrie and Brody <3

      Good news is Damian is returning to Showtime with his new show Billions on January 17. In fact Showtime in making the pilot episode available for everyone on New Year's Day through sho.com, You Tube and Facebook. If you want to meet Damian's new character Bobby Axelrod, you may like this https://www.fanfunwithdamianlewis.com/?p=5003 & https://www.fanfunwithdamianlewis.com/?p=5026

      Oh, Damian’s certainly the whole package — a brilliant actor & a very attractive man, right guy to blog about :)))))

      Hope you enjoy our blog, come visit again and leave feedback! Happy New Year! <3

  6. This really isn’t all that difficult to understand for everybody but the writers of Homeland. Nick Brody was the only interesting character with any genuine conflict, and meaningful romantic relationships. The rest simply don’t have the depth [including Carrie & Saul] to be interesting and thus the show went in decline after Nick’s death.
    The worst was pretending to care about Saul & Mira’s relationship shenanigans… which we don’t. I’m pretty sure she would pick the hunky guy in her bed instead of Saul anyway… and it completely lacked real chemistry. Jess & Mike initially started off interesting, but by the time Brody got back you never really felt like he stood much of a chance… it seemed sexual but with no real depth compared to Brody and Jess.
    The writers of the show really never understood to maximize the storylines and screen-times of their most compelling characters i.e. Brody, Carrie, Jess & possibly Saul. They showed us like a whole season [in total] of Dana’s relationship with bland boys, and quite frankly most of us couldn’t stand watching Dana on her own, let aside her romantic endeavours.
    I felt they never really got enough out of the Carrie-Brody-Jess love triangle. They never allowed Brody and Jess to reach full maturation when he got back from Iraq… which was a HUGE mistake because it was the only romantic relationship that was interesting and likeable to watch in the entire show.
    A clusterf⋈⋈k is what it was. A writing clusterf⋈⋈k.

    1. Thank you for reading and for your feedback. As I openly say in the post, I rooted for Brody and Jess for a long time and I thought it was THE relationship that was really worth exploring more; however, I have to say I thought the writing was really good in showing that 8 years is a long time and people change, even people that have been in love for so long could be strangers to each other after being apart for 8 years. I believe Brody and Jess relationship was over when Brody came back. And we know that he was a completely different man now than the one he used to be, the one Jess fell in love with and got married. And I am not just talking about the PTSD and Brody being a chronical liar given that he had plans to explode himself, but at an emotional level, they just could not connect anymore. On the other hand, it was easier for Brody to connect to someone like Carrie, a flawed and wounded character that might have an easy time to understand him even though it was very risky to have a relationship with. But they hit it off and I admit they became one of the most impossible love stories that we loved the possibility of on small screen. I believe though Brody had amazing chemistry with both Carrie and Jess. The storyline could have gone either way, but I believe the path Homeland chose was a brilliant one – might it have been better? It probably might have. But it’s a counterfactual after all 🙂

      I have quite different opinions on Dana — maybe because I hopelessly love dad – daughter relationships in fiction. I plan to write a post about Brody and Dana sometime soon.

      I certainly agree with you that Brody was the most interesting character. In fact, I have never loved any fictional character more than I loved him. His inner conflict and vulnerability was too painful to watch but also it was delightful to watch a wonderful actor bringing all that real-feel to the character. I am still watching Homeland, but I agree that it is not what it used to be.

  7. What an interesting conversation! So two years later here’s my two cents. I believe Brody’s greatest obstacle was the fact that he was home due to and involvement with Abu Nazir’s plot. PTSD certainly but add to it his big secret and it’s corollary – his death is central to the plan! How can he really be here knowing that, hiding that?
    I never thought the Brody’s would make it. Just in dramatic terms it was unlikely. I liked Jessica a lot. She gave up her easy fulfilling relationship with Mike for nothing but lies and bitterness. I thought she and Mike behaved very honorably. When one faltered the other stepped up. They put the family first. Brody couldn’t go back. Circumstances alone wouldn’t let him but he was forever changed. Thank God for Carrie! I only recently realized the truth and import of his words to her “I wouldn’t have made it this far without you. “

    1. Yes, I think Brody was right that they were doomed the day he was sent to Iraq. I completely agree about Abu Nazir’s plots and secrets. I think that was what he was trying to tell Jess the night they separated but Jess did not want to hear about it anymore.

        1. I think it attests to the fact that, while Brody’s case is extreme for the sake of fiction, almost no man can come back from war as the man he once was.

          1. I agree except for the almost. Changed however is not doomed and I wonder if his (the writers’) intention was war in general, Iraq in particular or Brody’s fate. I realize you can probably only speculate.
            Speaking of which : – ) my “Situation “ DVD arrived today!

          2. But again this is sensitive territory even speculation cannot happen without our world views coming out

  8. Of course, I’m ok with that. If I could only have friends that agreed with me I’d be lonely indeed. Actually your thought mirrors mine. Just wanted to check it out. Thank you.

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