Last we left, our couple had just met across a table and over files at CIA offices. Since then, Carrie Mathison has continued getting to know this mysterious Marine, Sgt. Nicholas Brody. Thanks to well-placed surveillance, she continues to get a head start on upcoming events by spending a few nights with her subject. Unbeknownst to him of course, but nights spent, nonetheless.
Two of these shared nights, the camera cuts really do make it appear as if they are in fact sleeping together. We see Carrie witnessing all the ways Brody just can’t seem to connect with his wife. And we see Carrie witnessing Brody in his private moments, essentially the moments when he’s alone with whatever is going on in his own mind. In one such night, Brody snaps awake from a nightmare. Carrie wakes at the same time.
Another night, as Brody is vegging on the couch to a basketball game, Carrie cuddles up on her couch too. You can tell a thing of two about a guy by how he lounges on the couch watching a game, and you can almost see some of that knowledge as it dawns on Carrie.
One of the reviewers back when Homeland was being written about more frequently remarked on the essential conceit of Carrie watching Brody. He noted that we’d seen surveillance shown in drama many times before. Anyone even remotely exposed to police procedurals has seen a cop watching a perp on screen before. In Homeland, the show runners did the brilliant new thing, according to this reviewer, of taking that intimacy one step further. (sorry I don’t have a name for this reviewer, but if you know which review I mean, let me know, please, so I can cite him properly) When seen this way, the conceit was not all that improbable. The intimacy gained from watching someone 24/7 is real, why not see what happens when it goes further? Further it went, we know. But not just yet.
So, we have the nights. Soon, we get the mornings. Carrie sees Brody coming out of the shower. It’s like watching reality TV, and it’s like watching porn, in a way. Except, Carrie knows this man is real. She’s seen his mind, the haunted parts of it and the parts of it that love his family, and now she sees his body. And a slight hint of a lascivious smile emerges, the eyes get all glittery, and the girl has to fan herself down and take a sip of coffee to bring herself back to her senses. It’s not love, of course. Not yet. But lust sure has sown its doggish seed in Carrie’s mind (and wherever else lust goes to propagate).
The warrant for the cameras has reached its limit and as the realization dawns on Carrie that she’ll be losing this window into his man and his life, she’s frustrated. First, that her case is running cold, and, second, because she really got used to seeing him everyday. She liked sleeping next to him and waking up with him and watching him get dressed and feed his kids in the mornings. Now that the live motion screens are gone, her house is empty. She misses him, and all she has left are the still shots.
The loneliness, the not knowing what he’s doing at that very moment, gets the better of her and she decides to take on the surveillance the old-fashioned way, by staking out his house. When she sees him drive away, naturally, she follows. This could be it, the meeting with his contact that she’s been waiting for. When she sees that it isn’t that, she’s torn. She wants to leave, let him be at the support group meeting she knows he needs. But, she also wants to see how much further she can get with him, she wants to ingratiate herself into his life somehow, make herself a confidante maybe.
When they literally run into each other, Carrie proceeds to lie like the professional she is. She tells him she’s there for the support meeting too and that she’s not supposed to be there and then she turns to leave. She’s inticing him somehow to want to know her too. When she rushes to leave, I do think she genuinely wanted to leave him alone. But, some part of her also knew he would follow.
Outside, she continues the lie, continues to wheedle some more trust from him, share the sense that they’re on the same side, those who came home from war to a world that had no idea (could never really have an idea) what they’d been through. So they share that bit of coming back from Baghdad, misunderstood, perpetually disconnected. The connection over that disconnection was what Carrie intended by going into the support group meeting. But the flirtation there between them as lightning cracks and the storm moves closer, that flirtation wasn’t in her script. She senses him flirting and she likes it, but she also sort of thinks, hey, that’s not what I’m doing here. I’m here to work this guy, why am I smiling at him? Where are these smiles coming from? He flirts with her and she can’t help but to flirt right back.
-Maybe we could hold our own private meeting out here, how’s that sound?
Admittedly I was still (and always) in Carrie’s head, even as the rain came down. So I didn’t consider then why Brody started the flirtation in the first place. Obviously, he doesn’t know the subtext of any of what’s going on. Carrie is the omniscient protagonist in this scene. She’s playing a game about which he has no clue. But, in that flirtation, could it be, that he honestly does feel a connection with her over their shared history? He senses that she’s someone who could understand him in a way that others can not. Brody in the rain is the Brody who has temporarily forgotten his mission and is just desiring a real connection with another human being. He’s been lying through his teeth from the minute he stepped off the plane. In Carrie, he sees a flash of someone he could maybe at least attempt honesty with. Not honesty about the mission, of course. He’s no fool, she’s CIA. But another kind of honesty, more human.
So, the rain falls, Carrie glows, Brody flickers. It’s electric. And we’re on.