When Brody died on Homeland, I was one of those fans who searched high and low, scrambling to find somewhere to talk about him and about the show. At one point I ended up on the Facebook page for Homeland and tried fruitlessly to sift thru all the flat “No Brody No Homeland” pointlessness to find someone who saw what I saw in the character and in the show. Brody will never die, I thought. So why rage into the void, begging for him to come back from the dead? Shows do listen to such things, I suppose. But, even if they did listen to all the pleas from fans, what would Brody come back for? To be a dad to his new daughter? To live happily ever after with Carrie? Really, fans?
No. Brody was dead. In fact, he was dead from the minute he got off the plane and saw Jess for the first time. I spoke at length of this aspect of the character before, here and here and here. The remarkable thing about the character was this very thing, that he was a dead man walking. A cipher, a mystery, an empty vessel filled with nothing except what various people put in his head. The fact that Damian played that emptiness so FULLY is the remarkable thing, the memorable thing, the thing that compels us to never let go of the character. Characters written so completely and played so fully never die, do they? The truth and the reality of Brody lives on and will never die.
I even knew back then that we’d hear of him again. I recall an interchange with a Claire Danes fan about the fact that everything Carrie does from now on is colored, shaped, by her experience with Brody. Every time she looks off into the distance in pain, there’s a very big chance she’ll be thinking about Brody. Claire Danes is able to do such a thing too….with her face, she can give life to a ghost in her head. It’s not just the memory of him. Memory is too small a word. She gave it up to him, completely. No one comes back from that.
She fully, totally, absolutely, fell face to the curb in love with him. Despite the inherent destructiveness of it all. Despite the fact that he was in large part incapable of returning that love. She was consumed by him. She would have died for him. It was the most self-destructive thing she could have done, love this man, but her love for him drove her every breath and action. No one comes back from that.
The show, since they wrote this perfectly resounding tragic love story, had to remember. Brody had to stay alive. If not in body, then in spirit, for ever. FOREVER. In Carrie’s mind, in her soul. Sure, she has his child too and that only makes the bond stronger. But even without Frannie, even if they hadn’t written Claire Danes pregnancy into the script (something I had mixed feelings about at the time), the fact remains that Brody was seared onto Carrie’s soul, she was branded by him. Call me a raging romantic fool, but, I must repeat, no one comes back from that.
As I hoped (and expected), the show, bless it forever, has never forgotten Brody. Just as he appeared in Season 4 in the form of a hallucination…
…and in Season 5 as a picture on the wall in Carrie’s flashback to her first job in Baghdad…
…Brody appears again in Season 6. No image or flashback this time. Heck, his name isn’t even uttered. But we know exactly who they’re talking about. Such is the power of a character, right? That, what, three years after his death, all they need to say is “he” and we know exactly who they mean?
First, before we get to Season 6, let’s go back, shall we, to the circumstances of Nicholas Brody’s sad demise in Season 3.
It is the beginning of the end, and we find Brody forceably detox’ed and debriefed from his time in exile in South America. Saul is in cahoots with Dar Adal to get Brody up and running, fully functional for the mission ahead. Meanwhile, Carrie is recovering from the bullet she took in an effort to clear Brody’s name. She has been searching for Brody all season, trying to get him back home, trying to save him. Saul and Dar Adal are keeping them apart. Once the guys finally have Brody detox’ed (with an outlawed drug that makes him nearly slice his own arm off, no less), Saul presents him with his options.
Brody: Please. No more. I’m done.
Saul: You are not. You will do this one last thing.
Saul then tells Carrie about the play:
See, the play was not Carrie’s idea; she thinks it’s crazy. But she also thinks it’s brilliant and may work. Such a thing, she thinks, will redeem Brody and he’ll be able to come back home, a hero…of sorts. She absolutely goes into it thinking he will come back home. Remember, she doesn’t want to take him to see Dana until he gets back? He says: “That’s a long shot.” She says: “You never know. We’ve come this far.”
She’s a chronic, pathological optimist, this Carrie Mathison. She wants to try it all, give every possibility a chance. She knows the worse that can happen, but her mind takes her always back to the shining beacon of the BEST that can happen. And the raging flame of “The Best” blinds her completely to addressing the possibility of the worst. Like Saul says, she’s the “smartest and the dumbest fucking person” any one will ever meet.
Now, here’s the one point where I stand apart from damn near everyone who has seen this show, including Carrie herself – a point I will argue till I’m blue in the face : Carrie did NOT lead Brody to his death. No matter what she thinks after the fact. She wanted him back, she wanted him redeemed, she wanted him whole and safe. Of course, he wasn’t interested in any of those things for himself. He was ready to die. He’d been ready to die from Day One. She was the one who wanted and needed him safe. How could she have lead him to his death if his safety, his LIFE, was so very important to her? So why does Carrie so adamantly believe she was responsible? Because that’s what women do, that’s why. Anyway, I could go on. Suffice it to say, I’ve never felt as strongly about my sole lonely reading of events of a TV show before (or since) Homeland and this story.
Here’s Carrie in Season 6, talking to a shrink about getting her daughter back.
Back to the end. The plan is set in motion, we cut to a boot camp that lasts maybe ten minutes, and, voila, Brody is primed for travel and combat. Once in Iran, he’s lauded as a hero by the Iranians who, like the Americans, believe he blew up the CIA.
From their first meeting, there is no love lost between Brody and Javadi, this snake of a man who’s supposed to be the harbinger of hope for peace between the U.S. and Iran. Javadi is a cold-blooded killer. We remember what he did to his wife, right? With a jagged bottle, no less. It’s that same remorseless murderer who takes out Brody’s companion and protector once they cross the border to Iran.
Thus, given the evil he’s exhibited, it comes as a bit of disconnect when Javadi shows such insight into Carrie’s connection to Brody. Given how odd it is to hear this murdering man have any insight at all, Shaun Toub performs both sides of Javadi’s two faces brilliantly. Javadi not only arrests Brody for Akbari’s murder, he then sits back and watches as Brody is sentenced to death. Yet, Javadi knows enough about the big picture of the situation to tell us and Carrie what she’s really thinking, helping her (and us) come to terms with what is about to happen. Not sure I totally buy him getting to say such perfect words. But here they are. And, lo and behold, it is this very character who provides a connection back to Brody three years later. (did they plan that far ahead? who can say.)
It was always about him…what he did, there can be no debate. It was astonishing and undeniable. And what you wanted, for everyone to see in him what you see. That has happened. Everyone sees him through your eyes now — Saul, Lockhart, the President of the United States, even me.
Wavy old school transition screen change back to Season 6. Javadi is back, this time in the States. He’s wrangling some deal with the President, and again the two sides of his face say diametrically different things. The CIA and Saul want to assure the President they still have Iran in their pocket. Javadi has other plans. He wants out. He wants to go to a beach somewhere and forget all about politics and its murdering ways.
Carrie’s like “Whaaat?” Brody DIED for THIS?? It was Brody’s action which single-handedly put Javadi in a position of power, in the position where he could be of use to the U.S. And now Javadi wants out?
A remark on how resigned Carrie is to the constant barage of shit thrown her way (a remark on how resigned we ALL have become to it) is that there is no big emotional “HOW THE HELL COULD YOU?!?” scene. Carrie knows, Homeland knows, shit happens and it’s going to continue to happen. We can all work towards abating what we can, but, ultimately, some part of us has to accept that we, to whatever small extent, are all Brody looking out his window at the windswept desert.
Javadi, the murderer, the deserter, again, gets to have a moment of tenderness. Carrie quietly asks him if he’s sure. It was good work they did, she says. Is he sure he wants to throw it away? I know, I know, saying “good work” in the same breath as acknowledging Brody died for it, is….painful. But, it’s real.
And here’s where she says “People died for it” and we know, with no names mentioned, who exactly she means.
Javadi knows too. And he has an offering for her.
He picked a nice shady spot among pine trees. Of course, I looked up the place Javadi mentions, Behesht-e Zahra, and, of course, the show nailed it: it’s the largest cemetary in Iran and does indeed have a section devoted to martyrs. And it has pine trees.
So, Homeland fans, here you go, some images alluding to where Brody’s body lays at rest. Let these further feed the imagination already richly stoked by the immortal Nicholas Brody.