Jackson Pace as Chris Brody, Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody and Timothee Chalamet… (Kent Smith / Showtime )
And just like that, "Homeland" is another kind of show. One of the real shames of Season 2 is that the writers couldn’t start from the place of ignorance that propelled the tension of the show. The first season, at least the beginning of it, turned us all into conspiracy theorist. It dangled evidence and red herrings, and didn’t bother to explain too much about how they fit together. The engine that drives "Homeland" is the audience, and the writers are, in a way, like expert puzzle makers. We had to keep trying to make sense of the muddle. After Brody revealed his ties to Abu Nazir definitively, that illusion was dispelled. But in the fifth episode, impossibly, we seem to be back to that land of half-knowing, not quite sure which team Brody is working on.
The interrogation scene between Brody and Carrie is a thing of beauty. Claire Danes does a great job cajoling Brody, half good cop and half therapist. But the real prize for acting here goes to Damian Lewis. In the 20-minute chunk where he’s trapped, you can clearly read all conflicting the emotions Brody has — defiance, despair, heartbreak, and, ultimately, relief. Carrie and the CIA team know that Brody won’t respond to threats. It took a plot of far more serious scale to get him on Nazir’s side in the first place. But it’s Carrie’s deft pulling of the string that attaches Brody to this life, and not the promised afterlife, that causes him to unravel.
But Brody doesn’t quite tell Carrie everything. He keeps his link to Abu’s journalist friend quiet. And now the audience is forced to wonder: Who is it that’s playing the long game? Is Brody really sick of his work as a terrorist, or is he gaining still more valuable information as a trusted source? Those layers of intrigue are at the core of "Homeland."
Then there’s the matter of Quinn. How much of his bad cop routine was a performance? When Saul asks him that, right after Quinn viciously stabs Brody in the hand, not even he seems to know. He’s shaping up to be an interesting character, and a nice, if perhaps obvious, foil to Carrie’s methods.
The biggest flaw in an otherwise pitch-perfect episode was the subplot between Finn and Dana. Their blossoming romance has something electric and riveting about it, even if there have been signs all along the way that Finn is kind of a tool. But tonight’s hit-and-run incident seemed to pass that point of believability for the show. The redeeming quality it had was to put Dana back into the position she’s always had on "Homeland": The keeper of secrets, some of which are too huge and thorny for her to possibly hang onto for long. Like Brody, Dana is a time bomb. We're just watching her tick.
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