I left Carrie and Brody suspended in a golden light near the end of episode 11 in season 2 but I think maybe Brody will never leave me be. So will you go with me into the shadows?
Nazir is dead. Brody has left his family. He and Carrie are together in peace that “is a rare thing for me”. They are back at the cabin; the place they first discovered that peace with each other. This time it’s different: “no secrets”. They have a fascinating conversation about that. Scarier and easier. Carrie says “That should be a good thing, right?” Well, yes it would seem it should but with these two people that’s a reasonable question. The ambiguity and tenderness with which they approach each other is a touchstone of their relationship. They are finding their way moment by moment. These two actors show us characters we’ve only seen in flashes: vulnerable, amazed. It’s beautiful.
Nearby Quinn watches. His mission: assassinate Senator Brody. In her home Jessica sadly clears out her husband’s clothes. The world rolls on outside the cabin. In a quick cut we are back with the lovers. Unpacking groceries, playing together. Brody juggles potatoes. Damian employs his adorable “mouth trumpet” doing a circus tune. They’re in synch. Like tuning a guitar the final twist finds the the exact note, eternal and true. Still, Carrie finds him checking for her gun, she unloads it. I trust you now.
On a walk she shares her family background, telling him things she’s never told anyone. They play and flirt before a fire, creating fantasies about the future until Carrie asks “Do you want to talk about it for real?” He’s not going to be a politician and he has a few options he’d like to pursue but mostly? He’s in awe to have a second chance and all he really wants is to be “A good person again.” In the their future Carrie is the unknown factor: “I have you”, he says,”- at least at this moment I have you.” She doesn’t contradict him yet she’s willing to explore a future with him. Except if she chooses Brody, she can’t go back to the CIA, “And there’s the rub.” The expressions on Damian’s face as they talk are incredibly moving. Carrie acknowledges that she loves working at CIA but she also loves ..”Careful.” He solemnly interjects. Don’t break my wounded heart. He can’t afford anything less than love. Otherwise, like Jess, he just doesn’t want to know. Carrie does a quick backtrack ..”being with you.” At least it’s true but Brody is disappointed and scared. They acknowledge their obstacles: her illness is “hard” and his past? “You do scare me Brody.” An astonishing admission. Does she fear he’s untruthful still? That he can in some way be”turned” into someone she can’t trust? He doesn’t question her, in fact he concedes that she could be right. Maybe this will all end in tears. Just for tonight they go with their drug of choice: Hope. We might make it.
Outside Quinn suspends his surveillance as the couple begins to make love. He is moving closer to a personal decision about his mission, Brody and Carrie.
In the morning she heads out for croissants and Brody in a memorable and a beautifully filmed scene goes down to the lakeside to pray. Something we haven’t seen him do in a very long time. It’s a return to life. The camera loves Damian Lewis.
Quinn, meanwhile, has him alone and in his sights. After Homeland toys with us a bit, we and Carrie find him alive on the porch. Quinn can also be “a man who changes his mind”. They pick up their conversation: the job, the man, thinking it through. How can she choose. Brody is saintly in his understanding but as for him, with nothing left to lose? “I’m in.” I must comment again on the skills of these actors. It’s as if I didn’t know the characters they were portraying till I saw them in E 11 & 12. With all the suspicion, anxiety and paranoia gone this is who they are, while remaining the characters they’ve been. This is Carrie giddy with joy and Brody calm. Both hopeful.
“Real life interferes.”Back in town, Brody ties up some loose ends. That includes reconnecting with Mike and asking him to look after his family again because he “can’t right now”. Do you think he means that setting up his new life perhaps with Carrie will take all his attention or perhaps he can’t bear to get too close to the family he’s let go? Maybe both. He arranges with Jess that he’ll pick up his suit for a memorial for VP Walden when the family is out. He walks back into the house and stands saying goodbye to every dinner, every conversation, every fight this house contains. In the shambles of their bedroom Dana appears. She wants to see him, she wants answers about the day Carrie came to the house, frantically appealing to Dana to stop her father. To stop an attack. In a poignant moment her father says he doesn’t want lie to her, she says simply “Then don’t.”
He confesses though in a veiled way, and her young heart breaks. “Hey” he says “you know me.” It’s too much to take in. With tears in her eyes she turns away.
Carrie meanwhile catches up with Saul in his office. They are happy to see each other, affectionate, but every time she mentions Brody she chokes a little. Every time he hears that name his anger and disappointment show. “He’s a man who put on a suicide vest and he always will be.” On this viewing I entertained that thought. Brody is a man who needs to be bonded to someone otherwise he’ll float away from reality. He can’t face it alone with the years of abuse, manipulation and the enduring traumatic scarring . Then he’s capable of anything, he needs Carrie as much as he loves her. In considering Saul’s statement I recalled what Damian said in an interview (I paraphrase) “Brody always believed whatever he was saying when he said it.” That puts her in a vulnerable and responsible position. She must sacrifice a lot to be with him. “Maybe I just don’t want to be alone my whole fucking life … it doesn’t look that good! How does it feel?” And Carrie’s always had a Brody shaped hole in her soul. She didn’t know she had it until it was filled.
As Brody arrives at CIA for the memorial. I’ve read an interesting observation about his car keys. They do swing and jingle in his hand; after he greets an unknown superior as “Sir.” they disappear. A handoff? Could be. What we do know is that the following scenes are rife with ambiguity. The assassin greets his victim’s wife. When he guides her to her seat he gazes searchingly at the family. Sean Callery’s music is not mournful but tense. He and Carrie lock eyes across the room. As Estes delivers a eulogy commending among Walden’s achievements. Among them his initiation of the drone program. Brody shakes his head in disgust. At a nod from Carrie they exit the ceremony. Again the sages of the internet have made note of the fact that Brody’s route takes him outside. Could be suspicious. They meet at the elevators and go into Saul’s office. Carrie bubbles over with joy – she’s made the choice – it’s him!
I wonder if defiance of Saul doesn’t play a part in her decision. Yet when she tells him that what changed her mind was him – he made her change her mind he solemnly lowers his head and glances out the window. With a weird brief and unconvincing smile he assures her that he’s ” not sad – the opposite” . Then he notices that his car is not where he parked but right outside! It dawns on Carrie what is about to happen but not before an explosion blasts through the memorial and much of the building.
The force throws the couple through the air!
When Carries comes to, she immediately finds Saul’s gun and pulls it on Brody as he rouses.
She believes, as will everyone, that this is his doing. He tries to calm and convince her. “I can’t see into your soul!” “Yes, you can.” he says. He brings her to believe it’s Nazir playing the long game even from his grave. “It was always Walden with him. Always the CIA.” But “no one else will believe you but me.” Should we believe him? Is Homeland just playing with ambiguities in this scene? Well, if we don’t find out in S8, we’ll never know. But me, I choose to believe.
They run. Carrie activates her “insurance policy”. Collecting money and documents, she outlines the escape plan. While visiting a counterfeiter for papers for him they see a broadcast of Brody’s suicide tape complete with a claim of responsibility by a Islamic militant group. “Fuck me.” indeed.
They drive on to the Canadian border. Brody watches Carrie carefully as she outlines the next steps of the plan. He knows she’s made a different choice. They arrive at the end of the road. “You’re not coming, are you?” The death of hope. She tries a little happy talk but he knows better. “Whatever happens or doesn’t, this was love. You and me.” Carrie’s reveals her unfamiliarity with her own emotions, “Why do feel like this?” “Because you gave it up to me.” he says. “Completely.”she replies.
What changed between “I was going to” and “I can’t now”? Not the bombing. The suicide tape?Now that I truly know what going with you means? Whatever the answer, this is truly what giving it up completely means to Carrie.
Holding her close Brody uses a word that he has said rarely and that she could never say, “Good bye, Love” and he moves off into the shadows.
He’s alone again. She’s headed back to Saul and the Agency.