Continuing my slow-going series of all Brody Carrie scenes, we reach “The Weekend.” If you didn’t believe the love story with this episode, you were probably just meant to never believe it.
Our dynamic duo were last seen in a parking lot. Some great words I have to insert here from a Salon review by Matt Zoller Seitz:
“Their boozy tryst might have been a credulity-derailing moment in any other ostensibly realistic show; but because Homeland had prepped the moment — carefully detailing Brody’s alienation, depression and troubled marriage and Carrie’s anti-psychotic drug regimen and lifelong history of flouting rules and courting danger — it felt psychologically credible and hilariously right. The moment played as if somebody had compiled a list of all the cat-and-mouse suspense pictures in which yin and yang leads stalked each other like possessive lovers and asked what would happen if subtext became text.”
Subtext has become text, for reals. And now it’s the next morning and Sgt. Brody has been summoned to the offices of the CIA for a polygraph. Carrie and Brody don’t meet, but, as per precedent, she sees him before he sees her. You almost need a magnifying glass to see the soft smile that washes over her face the minute he walks into the room, but it’s there, if only for a split second before she puts her game face back on.
This is to be the moment of truth, when Brody’s lying ways are revealed. Carrie, the agent, wants him caught, yet the smile betrays she also just really digs being in the same room with him too. Let me be clear: she doesn’t want to smile. She did not use sex to get him to come in for the polygraph, he was obligated to come in anyway. The smile, her memory of him, comes up despite what Carrie wants or has planned. She wants to be right in her suspicion that Brody is the POW who was turned and she wants him caught. She doesn’t want to feel what he’s making her feel. What do you call a feeling that shows up when you least want or expect it to? Love, that’s what.
But, alas, Brody is not caught in the lie. He knows how to beat the box. During the polygraph, Brody obviously knows it’s not just him and the machine. He knows someone must be watching him. And he probably has a good guess of who that someone must be. When he’s asked the question of whether he’s ever been unfaithful to his wife, his suspicions are confirmed. He calmly answers “No”. Then, he finds the camera and looks right at her, the woman who knows he’s lying and now knows he can beat the polygraph.
As she’s walking back to her car, Carrie has a “Damn, just another useless day at the office” look to her. She’s been beat and she doesn’t really know what comes next. But then Brody pulls up, unsmiling, like the picture of every bad boy from those 50’s surfer movies, with forearms on steering wheels, windows pulled down, cruising for girls. The only words he needs to say? “Get in.” Carrie’s response? What the hell? This guy. Okay, yeah, whatever, let’s go. It’s a tense moment. She’s afraid of him, but exhilarated at the same time. He may be a terrorist for all she knows, and, as she has just seen, a consummate liar, but, he’s kind of a really okay guy too. In scenes like this one, Homeland and these two actors had a way of evoking that thing that makes a viewer sit up and take notice and say, “OMG, what going to happen now??”
What happens then is a drive down I-95, first to a dive where we learn that Carrie likes clear liquor, can play pool, had only three boyfriends in school, and has expertise in spotting the neo-nazis that walk among us. Our free-wheeling duo blow that joint, quick, and keep driving till they reach The Cabin.
They are both sloppy drunk, but Carrie still has the wherewithall to slip inside, load a gun, and tuck it away, just in case the really cool guy she’s with ends up being who she suspects he may be. We know Carrie has bipolar disorder, but there is this entire super-layer of bipolar-ness defining her very existence. She’s a CIA agent, suspicious of something, confident in her suspicions, and perpetually aware and on guard should those suspicions come true. And she’s a woman attracted to a man, an attraction which takes her out of herself for brief delicious bits of time.
They dance around at the edge of the water, just one star visible in the twilight sky. He tells her she’s a great drinking buddy. She asks him how he managed to not break during those eight years in a hole. He doesn’t want to talk about it. She shrinks away, apologetic. As if she’s an insecure girl afraid of saying or doing anything that would turn this really cool guy away. Yes, she knows where the gun is in the house, but that’s about the only thing she has control over right now. And that’s actually fine with her. She wants to keep playing, keep it fun, keep it safe, for them both. So she backs away from any questions he deems too hard. Even the ones about beating the box.
For his part, Brody is drunk and he’s free, for the first time since this whole thing started. He’s not thinking about anything, for once, but getting closer to this woman. Sure, she’s on the other side, but, more significantly, she’s someone who makes him feel sane for brief delicious bits of time.
They wake the next morning hung over. Brody says he should go back home. Carrie readily nods in agreement. Again, she’s not asking for or expecting anything more. She didn’t bring him here to pry information out of him or to seduce him further away from his wife and family. She brought him here so that they could both be free for a few hours. Since they are so wonderously free, they linger and are quiet together.
Then they play house for a bit, cooking dinner, vowing not to drink, to try it all sober. They both want to see how much of the freeness they feel is the booze and how much is real. In these scenes there really isn’t anyone else on the show. It’s the Carrie and Brody love story, front and center. When night comes, Carrie doesn’t react in shock and fear and horror to Brody’s scars. She feels his pain, but it doesn’t scare her, like it did Jessica. She wants to take away his pain. She wants to shush away his nightmares (even as she listens closely to what he lets slip in them). What is it when you feel someone else’s pain acutely, and instead of turning away, you want to feel it with them and to help take it away? Love, that’s what.
It’s all so pretty and warm and cozy. And you think it cannot possibly get any better. But then it does.
Brody gets to say the best words ever said by a man to a woman either before, during, or after sex, bar none. Words that beat out the ever popular three little words that have shippers and fangrls of all ilks in a hot mess waiting breathlessly for for full seasons. The three little words helpfully abbreviated ILY in chat windows among the soap fandom and other shippers worldwide. No, he didn’t say those conventional three little words. What Brody said, what the absolutely brilliant Homeland writers put in Damian’s mouth to say, beat out everything.
“I want to just live here. For a second.”
Sending everyone who was watching immediately into a puddle of swoon.
Of course, you knew they were both lying about every single other thing. These were both consummate liars. Those words from Brody weren’t about a larger truth, meant to make us forget the messiness of these people, meant to forget the baggage they both carried into that cabin and out. Those words were about that one single moment in time, when everything was right with the world. Maybe that doesn’t mean love. But it was one single moment of truth, ostensibly the one true thing Brody ever said all season. The fact that it was one shining moment of truth singled it out. Maybe, you saw the truth of it only because it was set so vividly in contrast to the lies. But, nah, for this viewer, that one moment was TRUTH. And, as such, that is the one moment that ever mattered in the end. Love or not.
He found peace with her and in her. Fully sober, head in tact on his shoulders, peace. By that time she was already far into him. The chasing him to the church support meeting, the meeting him at the bar and not really talking about anything work related while they drank, the opening the door to her car as he proceeded to “climb all over her”. And the smile when she sees him again at the polygraph. Her feelings were always full on her face if you looked. Claire Danes has the uncanny ability to wear it all in every muscle of her face. Carrie’s feelings betrayed her at every turn. She knew it and we knew it. It was not about work anymore, it stopped being just about work the minute the first raindrops fell and he looked at her and she looked at him.
At that moment in the cabin, his part became not about work either. He was free for those minutes. Free of Nazir’s voice in his head, his directives about the mission ahead of him, free of Jess expecting him to be her high school sweet heart again, free of his kids and their own needs. He was free. With Carrie. As cloudy as Brody’s mind had been ever since he got off that plane, he found clarity for those minutes. Damaged people have this thing where it’s very difficult for them to see good in anything. But despite the damage, he had the wherewithall to know the good, he acknowledged it. Brody saw good in her, he felt good in her. For those minutes, the damage was healed, he was healed.
Then, the sun came up brashly on them both. A stupid little slip about Yorkshire Gold and it was back to agent versus target. Just like that, both Brody and Carrie became different people, their regular non-cabin personas awoke. You couldn’t tell if he was just hurt about the spying, or angry at being caught out. In either case, it was clear that he was primed to fight. He got a hold of the gun. She was terrified at first, then emboldened.
“You’re telling me the fucking CIA thinks I’m working for Al Qaeda? No, I think you’re working for Al Qaeda.”
When she says “Not if you’re playing the long game” he seems genuinely enthralled by her intelligence. He knows he has to be smarter, that this isn’t just a normal post-capture debriefing which his handlers probably trained him how to deal with. His handlers didn’t train him on how to handle this woman.
Brody sinks back into himself. He goes back into the haunted faraway land inside his brain. He has responses for everything she asks. Responses so easily delivered that we begin to doubt our own sense of what we know. Is he really not who Carrie thinks he is? Does she have it all wrong? Do we? Powerful, powerful stuff for actors to be able to pull off. Edge of the seat stuff.
The spell is broken again when Saul calls. Brody knows Carrie has nothing on him and he’s angry and tired and tired of having to act angry, so he decides he can leave.
The information from Saul, that Thomas Walker is alive, makes Carrie believe that she had been wrong about Brody. She’s confused and relieved at the same time. Like the really cool guy she just had an incredible weekend with may be just a really cool guy afterall and nothing more. She tries to stop Brody from leaving, but it’s too late.
The spell has broken and at least one side of the lying pair has been outed. Things don’t really become okay again between these two until both sides have been laid bare.