Writing for a fan blog, you meet a lot of fans. We all know that Damian is one of the rare breed of actor who is able to convincingly straddle multiple genres of storytelling: thriller, romance, shakespearean drama, war drama, the list goes on. Thus he has fans from all over the place too. Lucky to be in a field where constancy is both something you want so folks know what they’re about to get when they see you on screen, as well as something you want to fight against to lesson the risk of pigeonholing yourself in one kind of role. Damian has resisted pigeonholing at every turn.
And, so, we meet Band of Brothers fans, and Forsyte fans, and Homeland fans. Most times we fans intersect over their one intersecting quality: Damian. I met one such true fan recently on my posts about Brody and Carrie’s love story. I’ve always liked the idea of having a sort of call and response in written form, fans interviewing each other, arguing respectfully, like we’re lawyers for the defense of our favorites. And it’s a lovely thing when something comes along to make you think deeper, maybe even change your mind a bit about the stuff you think you know inside and out. NotLinda did that for me, and, I’m happy to say, I for her. We had incredibly rich discussions in the comments sections. So much so that I’m gathering them together into a post or two of their own. For now, you can hear from her first. This is a response she wrote to something I said in one of my “Was it Love” posts. Enjoy!
BRODY: IF NOT …. THEN WHAT?
Recently I had an exchange with Jania in which she referred to Nick Brody, Damian’s character in Homeland, as an ”empty vessel”. I, as is my wont, immediately rejected that description but her idea stuck in my mind. I wrote down the transformations we witness his character go through: Marine> terrorist> Nazir’s mole> CIA double agent> fugitive> CIA asset> martyr. My assumption has always been that he is a good man trapped in an impossible situation .. and that’s true as far as it goes, but conceding Jania’s point takes me a step further. What if he’s a man who needs context, needs a purpose and additionally needs another person to provide that to him. Damian said “Brody never knew who he was.” We are truly gifted to have Damian’s perfect portrayal of this complicated yet simple man. Who else could have pulled it off?
As a family man, as a Marine he knew his role. Then Abu Nazir took him apart with torture and isolation. Brody is strong, it took years. At this point I believe we are enter “empty vessel” territory. Then, playing the long game, Nazir put him back together with offers of hope, and purpose. It not only works, Brody comes to love him!
Enter a young woman with a heart and courage to match his own. She can accept his empty spaces – she has some of her own.
The good man is not lost in the vessel but does have the illusion he can dance with the devil: have his place in Nazir’s world on his own terms.
When events bring him face to face with Carrie, she calls him out in the harshest terms but eventually she sincerely offers him an escape and she offers him love. Yet it seems that, much as with Nazir, he’s found someone to give shape and purpose to his life. To tell him what to do. I think of him leaving for Iraq saying “I’m doing what you want”, saying “You’re gonna get me out, you’ll find a way. I have faith.”
Is that an empty vessel? It could very well be said. That leads me to the question: is this his character or the result of his exploitation by Nazir? It’s a debatable question but it seems he was a stable, reliable man when he left for the war. He came back changed. I’ve always hated the word damaged in relation to Brody. I preferred used, but I think that is certainly the correct term by the time his story ends. He, certainly doesn’t get better. Even love can’t save him.
What’s certain is he found someone who could match him courage for courage, passion for passion, who could fill in the empty spaces.