Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Damian Lewis as Nicholas "Nick"… (Kent Smith / Showtime )
The unexpected violence in Gettysburg last episode left "Homeland" to pick up the pieces this week. It’s not just that the CIA has to assess the physical damage, and the place that the attack put their intel. It’s that "Homeland’s" writers have to convince the audience that they aren’t turning into just another rock-'em, sock-'em spy drama. Though this week’s installment is, like last week’s, quieter and more scattered, by the end of the episode, they’ve recovered safely from that territory.
Let’s start with Dana. Her involvement in the hit-and-run with Finn struck a wrong chord with many "Homeland" viewers. It rang false, it rang desperate, it just felt out of place in the slithering and halting pace of the whole show. But this week, it's clear exactly why the incident is there. Brody’s increasing involvement with Walden is not unlike the plot of "Mean Girls": What begins as a joke, an infiltration, soon traps him into condoning the behavior he loathes. His whole turn as a congressman was engineered to get closer for a bigger takedown of Walden, place a blow to the heart of the kind of American politics that would remotely bomb a school building and then deny that it ever happened.
This is the essential struggle that’s at the heart of this episode: Brody’s sense of moral correctness at odds with his past, knowing exactly what the right thing to do is and failing to do it.
At the chi-chi benefit that Brody attends, his interaction with a wealthy donor lays bare Brody’s inner conflict. People treat him like a hero but he feels like a traitor, not just to his country, but also to Issa. There’s no peace in the middle.
Ironically, his humble attitude is what probably clinches Brody the vice presidential nomination. And when Dana, spurred by her own sense of morality, forces Finn to confess to his mother about the accident, Brody knows exactly what to do. The Waldens, of course, look to cover it up. Jess and Brody are of a different breed, still uncomfortable with the tangle of politics and real life.
Brody insists on taking Dana to the police station, chances at the convention be damned, only to be stopped by Carrie in an incredibly awkward confrontation. If his political chances go down the tubes, there’s no deal with the CIA, Brody is caught, and Dana runs away in a fury.
Saul hasn’t gotten much airtime lately, and his encounter with Aileen just shows how far off track the operation has gotten since their Brody bust. Her scheme to get a window with false information was just a clever ruse to end her life, the kind of sad calculus that Saul is usually adept at spotting. That’s another lead gone and another in a mounting list of failures for the department.
The most explosive event of the episode was the reignited spark between Brody and Carrie. After months of flirting intercut with hostility, the meeting in the clearing finally has the pair furiously making out. Except now, there’s no way to tell what the motives are for either of them. Is Carrie heartsick, or just a great actress? Is Brody using Carrie for Roya? Where’s the line, anyway?