Our own JaniaJania was very dubious about Homeland at first! Let’s let her tell it.
What the hell is this CIA agent doing kissing this guy she’s investigating, who also happens to be married? What is it about this guy that’s making this woman behave so unprofessionally?
All ruffled feathers of feminism aside, how could one say no to seeing such an attraction play out?
We saw Brody lying repeatedly. Just one lie after another came so effortlessly out of him. We see the cold stare, a face showing nothing. In his private moments, we could see that Brody seemed to be missing a layer of skin that everyone else seemed to have. Then, when he’s around others, we could see his lies providing the cover he needed, that missing layer of protection. We didn’t know yet, of course, just what he needed to protect, we just felt his need for it.
Brody could not make eye contact with his family at first. From that moment, Damian Lewis grabbed our attention with a fierceness I’ve rarely (if ever) felt for any other performance. At that moment, he became for me a performer you could not take your eyes off of for one second
The first time Brody sees Carrie is in the debriefing. They’re both all business in that scene. Carrie is following the script, speaking for The Company.
Brody had a similar script. In explaining how he survived for so long, he dutifully touted the excellence of his SERE training (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) Seemed that training was useful to him on both sides of the ocean as he so expertly danced around Carrie’s insistent question of why the captors kept him alive well after he’d outlived his usefulness to them.
Carrie, of course, has been surveilling the Brody home since he arrived there. The legalish warrant for the cameras has reached its limit.
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.
When they literally run into each other, Carrie proceeds to lie like the professional she is. However they share that bit of coming back from Baghdad, misunderstood, perpetually disconnected. 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?
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.
When they meet next, 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. The lie certainly doesn’t disturb him. He smiles and is eager to know what comes next.
What 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.
We 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 also the both of them eyeing each other up. As they part company, Carrie can’t help but slip him her card, adding an evocative “24/7”.
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. 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.
But, 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. The world drops away when they’re in each other’s company.
We don’t know why he called her from the bar that night. 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.
Straight’s been aged for two years in charred oak barrels.
So they get good and drunk.
Inexplicably, work comes back up into Carrie’s head and she’s spilling the beans about why they want Brody for the polygraph. 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.
The kiss is clumsy and not at all romantic or even very sexy. 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 he is no longer able to fit with his wife.
The next day Carrie “sees” Brody again, through the one-way glass looking into the polygraph room. 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.”
At her workday’s end 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.”
The way he looks out the window makes you wonder if he’s taking her hostage. But her readiness in getting in suggests that she knows exactly how to handle herself.
What happens then is a drive down I-95, driving till they reach The Cabin.
They are both sloppy drunk.They dance around at the edge of the water, just one star visible in the twilight sky. He tells her she’s a great drinking buddy. She asks him how he managed to not break during those eight years in a hole. He doesn’t want to talk about it. And that’s actually fine with her. She wants to keep playing, keep it fun, keep it safe, for them both. So she backs away from any questions he deems too hard. Even the ones about beating the box.
For his part, Brody is drunk and he’s free, for the first time since this whole thing started. He’s not thinking about anything, for once, but getting closer to this woman. Sure, she’s on the other side, but, more significantly, she’s someone who makes him feel sane for brief delicious bits of time.
They wake the next morning hung over. Brody says he should go back home. Carrie readily nods in agreement. She brought him here so that they could both be free for a few hours. Since they are so wonderously free, they linger and are quiet together.
It’s all so pretty and warm and cozy. And you think it cannot possibly get any better. But then it does.
Brody gets to say the best words ever said by a man to a woman either before, during, or after sex, bar none. Words that beat out the ever popular three little words. No, he didn’t say those conventional three little words. What Brody said, what the absolutely brilliant Homeland writers put in Damian’s mouth to say, beat out everything.
“I want to just live here. For a second.”
Those words from Brody weren’t about a larger truth. Those words were about that one single moment in time, when everything was right with the world. Ostensibly the one true thing Brody ever said all season.
He found peace with her and in her. Fully sober, head intact on his shoulders, peace. At that moment in the cabin, his part became not about his work either. He was free for those minutes. Free of Nazir’s voice in his head, free of Jess expecting him to be her high school sweetheart again, free of his kids and their own needs. He was free. With Carrie. Despite all the damage, he had the wherewithal to know the good, he acknowledged it. Brody saw good in her, he felt good in her. For those minutes he was healed.
And then a stupid little slip about Yorkshire Gold and it was back to agent versus target.
“You’re telling me the fucking CIA thinks I’m working for Al Qaeda?”
“No, I think you’re working for Al Qaeda.”
Eventually in S1, Brody’s been revealed to us as exactly who Carrie thought him to be. He prepares further for his mission. We learn what the mission is, and why Brody has been compelled to do it. It’s the nature of abuse that an abuser eliminates all access to support, all modes of comfort and humanity. Then, the abuser steps into the void. All we needed to understand this was the statement:
“He was kind to me, and I loved him.”
As he’s marching hither and yon doing this terrorist-y duties, Brody has the wherewithal to stop by Carrie’s home. She greets his call with skepticism. She’s not at all smiles that he wants to see her after telling her to fuck off. But, then, when she knows he’s on his way, she turns up the Miles Davis and puts on the rare lipstick.
He tells her he wants to make sure their affair stays hush-hush, in light of him running for office and all. On first viewing, I felt he didn’t want to say all this and had to. Then when he gets into his car and leans back, I thought he knew the pain he had just given her and hated doing it. But, maybe, I see now, it was relief too.
Meanwhile, around them, stuff happens.
All he had to say was “You saved my life.” That’s all we want him to say. But, he doesn’t. Because the mission must go on.
With that, Carrie has lost her job, her mind, believes herself to be so crazy that she wants to erase it all with electro-shock therapy.
And there you have it, kids. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.
For the FULL JaniaJania experience: her six part series, “Was It Love”, starts here.