Homeland, Carrie and Brody, Was it Love?: Part III

Last we left our star-crossed duo, Brody and Carrie were standing outside a church and there was rain. Now, we’re continuing trying to get an answer for the question: Was it love?

Till this point in Homeland, we already know enough about Carrie Mathison to know that she uses sex, the same way she uses wine and music, as an escape from the restlessness, the constant spinning in her head. She wears a wedding ring when she goes out so there’s no confusion by either party about what the sex is about. Just sex, nothing more. We know she’s had a life full of risk-taking. We know she dated Estes and broke up his marriage. All of these tidbits of her back story are meant to establish the fact that Carrie believes in her soul that a life of coupledom, marriage, and children is not in her future. She can’t even dream about it, because of her illness, because of her job, or because she finds herself incapable of doing the work a real relationship would require, or withstanding the inevitable boredom of it. So she uses men for sex. And she uses sex for control. And then she gets back to work. It’s an arithmetic that’s worked brilliantly for her.

With Brody, it’s different. She’s working. But she’s also attracted to him. And it’s all very confusing and also quite intoxicating.

Is it obsession? Yes, okay. The magnet pull of a self-destructive force? Sure. But it’s real. Palpable, relentless, and necessary.

The next they meet, Brody has been called in to help with an interrogation of one of his captors. He sees Carrie and goes to greet her, but is taken aback by her not acknowledging that they’d met at the support group. Her skills at subterfuge are beguiling to him. Maybe he sees a bit of his own skillfulness in her readiness to lie so convincingly? Or maybe that’s the very reason she even bothers to lie? She wants to show him: ‘Look I’m lying too, we all do it. Feel free to lie all you want as long as you want, just know you don’t have to lie to me.’ Whatever it is, the lie certainly doesn’t disturb him. He smiles and is eager to know what comes next.

imageedit_8_3212494090What comes next is Brody seeing that they’ve captured one of his torturers. Interestingly, Brody doesn’t show any fear, nor does he shut down at the memory of the trauma. Instead, he’s intrigued by the fact that he’s seeing this man again, only this time on American soil, Brody’s own turf. We see him acquisitive to learn how they got him, who else they got, what he’s told them so far. All of it seems like fresh news to him. He wants some face-to-face time with the man. He knows what needs to be done. The programming Brody got in detention, whatever ideas have been injected into him, tell him that the man needs to be eliminated before he gives up any information that could jeopardize the mission.

imageedit_13_9091699212We see some surreptitious glances between Brody and Carrie, but largely, this scene is about establishing that Brody wants to get at this guy before the CIA break him. It’s the both of them eyeing each other up, but mostly both are in work mode. As they part company, Carrie can’t help but slip him her card, adding an evocative “24/7”.

imageedit_16_3085362698 They meet briefly again at Tom Walker’s funeral. Carrie watches and, like the rest of us, is stirred by Brody’s perfect eulogy. She waits for him afterwards and tells him he has to come in for a polygraph. Why, she can’t say.
imageedit_20_5417624041 The plot continues to wobble and spin all around them. Their next meeting is when Brody has taken her up on her offer to call her at any time for any reason.

Straight’s been aged for two years in charred oak barrels.

Carrie has just learned that the professor and his terrorist wife are on the run. Brody has just learned that his wife was sleeping with his best friend while he was gone. Brody calls Carrie saying he can’t come in for the polygraph the next morning. She suspects he’s making an excuse to get out of it. She wants to get the real story from him in person. When she goes to meet him it’s to get some information, make some headway into what he’s up to.
imageedit_29_6329095508But, such is the nature of “chemistry” that the world and all the pesky plot points holding it together seem to wash away when Brody and Carrie are alone again together. They start talking about the most banal things, just to talk, just to be in each other’s space. Carrie walks into the bar, Brody smiles, says “You didn’t have to come.” Carrie shrugs as if to say, ‘I didn’t have anywhere else I needed to be.’ Like they’re new friends meeting for a casual drink. They have a hard time not smiling at each other.

The banter is bizarre, the smiles are bizarre, given Walker’s funeral that same day, what Brody has just learned about Jessica and Mike, and what the CIA has just learned about the professor and his terrorist wife. As bizarre as it is, it’s all miraculously authentic at the same time. The world drops away when they’re in each other’s company. Makes no logical sense at all, and the fog of disbelief hangs heavy over this picture. Ultimately it’s a combination of what we already know about both of them, the chemistry of it all, and the beatific immersion facilitated by Damian’s and Claire Danes’ performances, which renders it all vividly believable regardless.

As outlandish as it is, they proceed to get to know each other. She asks about the hand he’s nursing with a bag of ice, he asks if she’s ever been married. She tells him that, as a girl, she always beat everyone at playing chicken on the railroad tracks, even the boys. He’s impressed. She’s got a fire to her that’s drawing him in. The pull started when she walked away from him in the rain and it’s getting stronger, despite the horrific things happening in the plot around them. Truth be told, what they feel, who they are when they’re together, is about as far away from the plot as it could get. Short of becoming an entirely other show: The Carrie and Brody Show! 🙂

We don’t know why he called her from the bar that night. All we know is that he doesn’t want to do the polygraph. But why not wait till the next morning? Why call her when he’s in pain? Both physical pain from the bloody hand, and, ostensibly, emotional pain from finding out about Jessica and Mike. Why not just skip out on the polygraph the next morning and make his explanations later? No, we don’t know why he called her. But he did. Did he expect her to show up? Probably not. But he’s not complaining. The bourbon and her presence in that bar is taking him out of his head for a brief time and he’s okay with that.

As for Carrie’s motivation, we do know more about why she’s there. She wants to get something incriminating out of him. A lot of the scene in the bar is her manipulating him, getting him to reveal something. But a large part of it is them just talking, like peers, like they’re two consenting adults who just met and want to know more about each other.

I like it when life is like that…heightened somehow.

So they get good and drunk. Who’s more drunk? That is to say, who’s more vulnerable? I’d have to say they’re both equally blotto, laughing it up about the Redskins and how the Irish only puke when they have to salute the British. But, as drunk as they are, neither has totally relinquished control. Likewise, neither is vulnerable.

imageedit_32_7532785933Inexplicably, work comes back up into Carrie’s head and she’s spilling the beans about why they want Brody for the polygraph. Is she saying more than she should? Is she really so drunk that she’s divulging secrets she shouldn’t? Or is she telling him these things in the hopes that his drunkenness will get him to divulge secrets too? It’s all so crazy to contemplate, and I have to say I have no answers. But I do know that they are both in control of what is going on at that moment. They’re both in the game, playing along.

When she divulges that the man who tortured Brody is dead, slit his wrists, Brody says nothing. What he does next may be just to shut her up so he doesn’t have to say anything. She sees him coming closer, looking at her the way he looks at her, and for a split second she sees what’s coming next and she’s surprised. Her expression says “What? Where is this coming from?” But then in the blink of an eye it shifts to “Well, okay, then. Why not? Two consenting adults, overwhelmed by the booze and the opportunity, why the hell not?”

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The kiss is clumsy and not at all romantic or even very sexy. The filmmakers do a great job of showing the consensual nature of the act. Carrie opens the door, she facilitates access. It’s drunken car sex, but it’s undeniable that they are in it together. And what they learn about each other here is: why, yes, they are pretty darn compatible! Brody fits with Carrie in ways, through no fault of his own or Jessica’s, he was no longer able to fit with his wife. It surprises both of them and it feels good. To both of them.

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And then it’s done, and it’s the next morning and they’ve already gone their separate ways. Nope, not love yet. But certainly a bit closer to it than before.

Is this episode, Carrie “sees” Brody again, through the one-way glass looking into the polygraph room. When he walks in, her face, being an entity sometimes separate from her brain, betrays a smile. You know how when you first start with someone, you get that goofy muscle-twitch of a smile whenever you first see that person again? And you try to tamp it down because it’s so darn goofy and betrays any semblance of maturity or self-control? I can confess I’ve been there, so I know exactly what her smile said.

Brody can’t see her but he knows she must be watching, especially when he gets a question that he knows only she knows the correct answer to: “Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?” Then he makes a fine show of just how impeccable a liar he can be. Is he taunting her? Most definitely. He’s saying “catch me if you can, but don’t even try cuz you can’t.”

Carrie marches out of Langley with a “just another day at the office” weight to her. Brody rolls up in the parking lot, all forearms and unsmiling recognition in his eyes. He says “Get in.” She thinks “What the fuck?”, then she thinks “Sure, what the hell, work’s work.”

The darn music and the way he looks out the window when the camera cuts makes you wonder if he’s taking her hostage. But her readiness in getting in suggests that either she’s a complete idiot or she knows exactly how to handle herself regardless. An episode ending exhilarating as all hell.

32 thoughts on “Homeland, Carrie and Brody, Was it Love?: Part III”

  1. First let me say how much I enjoyed your pointing out the camera cuts in the surveillance scenes, I hadn’t noticed. Cool!
    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. I share your confusion.

    1. 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. They may have discussed some of this at the first TCA the show did, one I have yet to find and watch. His reaction of course was unreadable too. Nothing beyond: Shut up and let me climb all over you.:)

        1. Television Critics Association. Or maybe it was a Paley event. It was the one where Damian wore a fedora. Anyway they are events where the show runners and some of the actors are on stage as a panel talking about their show, taking questions from a moderator and that audience. Only saw one for Homeland and that was after Brody’s death. So cool to see what the show makers think about their shows and the stories they tell.

  2. The kiss, however, seems to me to be a deal sealer. The sex is wild and fast as if the entire evening was foreplay. 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. Whew!

    So random thoughts:
    Did Brody pass the razor? It seems Hamid knows exactly who Brody is and of his mission.
    I saw this time that Estes also looks directly into the camera at Carrie when he’s questioned about his marriage.
    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. Just wondering

    1. 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.

    2. Re Hamid: interesting that they never came back to that but I am sure it was Brody that gave him the razor. He insisted on seeing him as if he wanted to spit on one of his captors but he was probably tasked by Nazir that he had to make it easy for Hamid to commit suicide. And IMHO Carrie told him about Hamid out of blue to catch him off guard and see his reaction. I find it fascinating that she could have sex with someone that she believes could be a bad guy… at that point they are way beyond tipsy though and I cannot gauge how much is the alcohol and how much is strategy. One of my favorite episodes in Homeland. And that “Get in” OMG even I, who questions Carrie having car sex the night before, would get in that car

      1. One little addition: Now that I thinking… like Carrie wants to get closer to Brody to understand what he is about maybe Brody was also tasked with getting to know her better… we never see him talk to Nazir until a certain point in the season but they for sure have some ways to communicate, don’t they?

        1. Roya Hammad, the reporter, was the way Nazir communicated with Brody. We didn’t see this until S2. I think the thinking is that Brody was a part of a terrorist cell in waiting, ie left on their own to meld back into society until they get the call to mobilize. Like the couple with the house near the airport. They weren’t in on the entire plan, just the part of it they were in charge of executing…getting the house near the airport. I think it’s believable that Brody wasn’t communicating with anyone the first season. Just waiting to hear from them. The thought is that terrorists do things by pieces to prevent any one piece from knowing the entire plan and having it grilled out of them by the CIA or whomever. Thus, Brody credibly saying “I don’t know” to all of Carrie’s questions in Q & A. Until finally she asks “But there IS a plan?” and he has to say yes…Breaking the spell he’s been under.

          1. But we saw Brody talking with Nazir at “yummy yummy yummy” guy’s house in Season 1. I think he was also a messenger next to Roya Hammad.

          2. Right, you answered your own rhetorical question then. 🙂 The yummy yummy yummy guy was also a medium for their communication.

        2. I don’t think anyone on Nazir’s side knew how much Carrie knew. She got the info from a guy who was heading towards his own execution, like literally seconds after he whispered in her ear “an american soldier has been turned”. So, no, I don’t think Brody was tasked with getting close to her.

  3. Well
    1) he could grow his hair anywhere, i.e. Not necessarily in the hole
    2) when Brody confronts “Yummy” after he finds out Tom is alive, he says something along the lines of “I’m not talking to you or Nazir anymore”. Indicating he has been communicating with them
    3) car sex? Really? I have no problem seeing Carrie enjoying that! I, myself, have done that. In the misty past, granted, but y’know…..just sayin’

    1. My take is not really about car sex, but it’s about having sex with someone you think may be the bad guy. I know it disturbed me when I watched it the first time. I did not feel anything for Brody at that time yet and I could not believe what was going on 🙂

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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!”

  4. Ah I see. Yes, you’re right and she’s right back on the job the next day. Then in his car by the afternoon. As Orhan said ” Does love make fools of us all or do only fools fall in love?”

  5. 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.
    If I had the skills I’d make a video of those moments of duality to Chris Isaacs “Wicked Game”. The world was on fire and no one could save me but you. Strange what desire can make foolish people do. I never dreamed that I’d love somebody like you.

    1. I have always seen their relationship more along the lines of Damian’s own “two broken-winged birds” falling in love take but I love your take, too. And who cares if you disagree with the writers? If it’s what you see there then it is what it is! But, hey, wish you made that video! “Wicked Game” was one of my favorite tunes in high school. Maybe it was 1989 and I was a junior. But I vividly remember dancing to it at the prom with a boy I sort of liked… I had made a video with a friend dedicated to Brody after he died. It was one of my desperate ways to cope… Have you seen it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVINSHpD6Uc&t=12s

      1. Oh that was you! Yes I watched it not long after I completed season 3. Desperately looking for signs of Brody. It’s really lovely. So good to see it again, well done!

        1. Thank you! It was me who picked the scenes and it was a very dear friend who picked the song and put the video together – my technical wiz! When we were watching Season 3, I was constantly saying they would kill him and my friend was constantly saying they would never kill such a popular character and my husband was saying they would never kill the chicken that laid the golden egg :)) So my friend promised me we would make a tribute video for Brody in case he dies… and he kept his word.

    2. 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. 🙂
      If you haven’t already, do seek out lilmisfit’s mvids. Some have disappeared but anything you can find my her about these two will hit the spot. She liked the darkness too and did wonders with matching scenes to just perfect music. Her S3 vid brings me to tears. Every. Single.Time. “I’d draw a line from A to where’d you be.” Gah.

      1. Yes, to truly live is to suffer, but to live truthfully is a daily joy.
        I recognize the name lilmisfit from searches in the past but I was unable to find any videos last night after reading your comment. I’m not really good at these things.
        Thank you for opening these discussions with your current blog! I’m enjoying it very much!
        In answer to the baseline question “Not yet…..!”

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