After the short bucolic break from reality, both Brody and Carrie have melded back into a plot prancing along apace.
Brody is called into Langley to tell Saul about Tom Walker. He’s tense and frustrated having to answer the same questions again. He sees Carrie and he cringes. True, he believes that he’s been called in because Carrie shared his confession to her that he killed Walker. It’s a “dammit, there she is” wince. He wants to ignore her, and maybe he was hoping he wouldn’t run into her there. But, maybe he was hoping he would, and he’s recoiling at his own stupidity over still wanting to see her after what she did (i.e. what he thinks she did). “Dammit, there she is” can mean a variety of things, can’t it? Whatever the case may be, his eyes keep going back to her.
No, Carrie and Brody are not a couple you will ever see making googly eyes at each other across a room. No one’s buying anyone flowers. No one’s sending cute texts and personal “just between us” gifts. What you get instead are curious glares. Eyelocks and frowns at the pain of connection and non-connection. Wincing when it hurts. This was not supposed to happen. Neither of them want it to happen. The eyelocks and frowns tell you this, and they also tell you that they are both powerless against it happening. The fact that this isn’t a dinner and roses sort of love story makes it no less real a love story.
She tries to apologize, to clarify that she knows now that she was wrong to believe he had been turned. Why does she do this? She believes, at that point, that she got the wrong POW. It was Tom Walker who was turned, not Brody, she and Saul both think. Why apologize so profusely? She seems to cares what he thinks about her. But why? If he was just a suspect, and now not a suspect, why not just leave it alone and move on?
Because, she can’t, that’s why: there is no choice in love. Afterall, this was no relationship, just car sex followed by cabin sex, with and without libations. Yet, it was the sparkling hint of more. It was a taste. Yes, one can move on, given time and space, especially from something so transient to begin with. But, the idea of “choice” when it comes to pursuing more of that first taste of maybe loving someone? Nope, choice never existed in the same room as that brand of love.
In return for her apologies, Brody spews some nastiness about her taking that special initiative in her job, to fuck someone she suspects of terrorism. Now, it’s her turn to recoil.
Since that Yorkshire Gold moment, Brody lives in a state of feeling “used, manipulated and lied to” (though he won’t use those words until S2). He’s hunkered down in full-on self-preservation mode. That includes trying to preserve his marriage and family. So he’s at home, soothing Jessica’s tears (more generously than we’ve seen him ever do before), playing cards with the kids, and getting prettied up for a fancy party at the VP’s house.
Jessica loves being on Sergeant Brody’s arm with all eyes on them. We learn at this party that the Brodys, as picture perfect as they are, are being groomed for a fortuitously emptied seat in Congress.
On the way home, when Brody turns away from backseat cuddling and his face goes all vacant, to some faraway place, maybe he’s anticipating his move to the inside of government (even though he doesn’t know it yet). The inside where he can be more flexible than ever to carry out Nazir’s mission. More likely is that he’s thinking the coziness with Jessica does not feel the same, cannot feel the same now, compared to what he experienced with Carrie.
When they get home, Jessica seems to have something else in mind, but all Brody wants to do is sit with his kids and watch Ice Age 3.
Carrie is a bit in recovery mode too, trying to salvage Saul’s confidence in her by admitting that her contact with Brody got personal.\
Seems both Carrie and Brody are recovering from letting things get too personal. They’re like “Look, this isn’t supposed to be a love story, okay…Let’s get back to playing good guy vs (maybe) bad guy.”
Now for the title of this episode, “Achilles Heel”. We know that Tom Walker’s Achilles Heel is his wife and son. For Saul, as Mira is moving away, it’s his work. What are Carrie and Brody’s Achilles Heels’? They both share the state of being under the influence of all-encompassing missions, which happen to be on opposite sides from each other. They both share the ultimate weakness of their own minds betraying them, and making them do things they know to be wrong. Albeit, Brody is much more weakened by his mind than Carrie is by hers. And, I’ll venture to say, they share the same difficulty in letting each other go completely. In this weakness, Carrie ultimately wins. But, right now, they’re running neck and neck.
See, this isn’t a strengthening, empowering love. Not in any conventionally healthy way, that is. It’s the kind of love that breaks you. Strength comes from the drive to defy all reason, empowerment comes from the attempt to beat all odds. The fact that it is so difficult and destructive does not make it any less real.
The next morning, at 6am, Carrie calls him from outside his house. The advent of cell phones and caller ID certainly added a cool trick for the most talented actors to hone to great affect: that pause, that brief breathless stillness and incremental change in the eyes, revealing whose name must be on that little cellular screen. And here’s Damian pulling that trick from a horizonal position.
He goes out to his yard barefoot. She wants to give Brody the heads up that Walker is alive and that she wanted him to know before they release the info to the public, to tell him again that she was wrong, to apologize again, to implore him to not hate her. Again, why?
Does she really want that badly to continue their affair and to break up an innocent man’s home? Does she still think he’s guilty in some way, and wants to get close to him again? The answer is more simple that either of those: she wants him to not feel pain. She doesn’t want to be the reason for bringing him any more pain. Sure, no human wants to be the reason for another human’s pain, so this may be just Carrie being human. And the matter-of-fact non-emotional way she’s apologizing does seem to support that argument. We’ve seen her have heart before. She’s been shown exhibiting empathy for the sad and helpless: Lynne Reed, the harem girl with the diamond necklace, and, this episode, Helen Walker as they commiserate over how men are simultaneously both the best and the worst. Carrie carries her own pain and she feels for others acutely. So, yeah, she doesn’t want him hurt.
A lot of the emotion in this scene, in fact, is coming from Brody. He’s still angry, he doesn’t trust her. He doesn’t want her near his family. But there’s something else beneath the words. Something else beneath “I don’t hate you Carrie.”
Carrie sees nothing but him turning away and walking back to his wife at the door. “Who’s she?” Jessica says. “CIA”, he answers.
She’s said her goodbye and she seals it by sharing her “epiphany” with Saul.
I’m going to be alone my whole life, aren’t I?
Meanwhile, lo and behold, Brody is revealed to us as exactly who Carrie thinks he is.