With “Horse and Wagon,” Homeland’s third season has found sure footing again. After a shaky beginning, followed by several roller-coaster dips and turns, we’re finally able to settle back into the business of covert missions and spy games. And oh how good did it feel? (Damned good) This ninth episode was the season’s best, not the least of which was due to The Return of Brody. We know how great these actors all are; Mandy Patinkin, Claire Danes, Rupert Friend, F. Murray Abraham—heck, even the worst of the supporting actors are wonderful. But tonight’s shout-out has to be to the complete and utterly phenomenal performance by Damian Lewis. Anyone can writhe around on the floor and let a little drool dribble down his chin, but Lewis…he brought us right inside a broken man. Being pulled out of withdrawal cold turkey is something many couldn’t begin to imagine; Lewis transferred every bit of Brody’s anguish to us, he simply ached with desperation and pain. The guy has this magical ability to suck us right into his internal world. For a few minutes, he made us forget what we ever liked about Saul; to question how anyone could ever put another human being through what Brody was experiencing—even if it would somehow benefit and bring together two countries. Brody’s cold indifference toward Carrie was palpable; his emotions transferred directly. By the boat scene, I could almost feel myself drifting down underwater, letting go. That’s a gift. A beautiful, warped, freakish, amazing gift that made me feel like I wanted to crawl out of my own skin.
Carrie: For once, Carrie was quiet; contemplative for most of the hour. She made a couple of questionable decisions—both times she brought Brody to see Dana—but considering the insane amount of stress she’s been under, Carrie remained in control. She lay quietly in bed as her attending physician went over her injuries and remarked on her pregnancy. She barely reacted (and it wasn’t just the painkillers) when Lockhart paid his visit, dropping the news about Saul’s trip to Caracas; Carrie realized immediately what it meant, but gave nothing away. And Carrie stayed cool and resolute when Saul came to gain her assistance. She never let her emotions take over; whether or not she felt manipulated by Saul, Carrie couldn’t deny the possibility for good to come out of his play. After her silent tears when Brody saw her and turned away, Carrie never lost sight of this shot in the dark at the future. In her silence, she sees a chance to give both herself and Brody a life…”on the other side.” It is by design she manipulates Brody by taking him to see his daughter, yet she wisely doesn’t tell him about her pregnancy— perhaps partially because she hasn’t even accepted the idea herself. But even at this early stage, a mother’s strength and instincts may have taken hold. Because, no matter the whirlwind of emotions and desires she must have been feeling inside, Carrie was able to keep it together; she deftly maneuvered Brody into position and sent him on his way, with just a little bit of hope in his pocket to carry him through.
Saul: It was back to all-business Saul upon his return from Caracas. The acting director has a ridiculously short window—seven days—to get Brody on his feet and ready for the big play. Saul’s plan will drop Brody into Iran as a known terrorist seeking asylum. Brody will be hailed as a hero, giving him an opportunity to get close to, and to take out the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, leaving open a spot for Javadi as one of Iran’s top three people—who just happens to be working for the good, old U.S. of A. Saul watches as a group of soldiers do everything to keep Brody from killing himself while going through withdrawal, including approving the use of an hallucinogenic drug (Ibogaine) Adal suggests to speed things up. It’s hard to watch this Saul; he’s the one who’ll stop at nothing to accomplish what he believes is right, manipulate and use his closest friend or ally; this Saul doesn’t care who’s left standing—it’s the price for possible peace. Interestingly though, when Max and Virgil find the bug Mira’s French baguette (aka Alan Bernard [William Abadie]) left behind, Saul would rather let a scumball like Lockhart be confirmed as CIA Director than to bring shame on his wife or his agency. It feels like he’s making his last play. Saul’s doubling down and hoping against hope the cards to fall into place so he can take his winnings and go home. But unless the series does an entire reboot—which might just be what we all need—Saul would be the man most likely to move the agency forward.
Brody, Brody, Brody: Just hand Damian Lewis his Emmy, people, he earned another one tonight. Between screaming and crying out for his needle, dry heaves, being dragged delirious and dirty to the shower after having “shat himself,” and doing everything he could to kill himself, Lewis took going through withdrawal to just the right believability level. Whether slack-jawed and incoherent, or returning to his first scattered moments of coherence, Brody suffered through this unwanted return to a state of consciousness, only to be slapped in the face with the harsh reality of who he really is. As Saul reminds him, whether or not he’s the guy who did the Langley bombing doesn’t matter—Brody’s still the guy with the suicide vest, the guy responsible for the death of Elizabeth Gaines, and the Caracas Imam and his wife. Brody doesn’t care. He’s lost the will to live—the only thing left for him is death—and he’s ready to speed off on that journey any way possible. Saul makes a misstep by testing that theory and after he’s quickly proven wrong, realizes Carrie is the only one who might be able to bring Brody around. And look how fast that happens when Carrie goes right for Brody’s heart—not (as the writers teased the entire hour) by telling Brody she’s pregnant with his child—rather, by bringing him to see the one person who could get through. Brody goes insane with anger and emotion when he sees his daughter; of course a million questions about why she is where she is, and not at home, run through his brain. And suddenly, Brody has a will to live; we see all the lights in a soldier’s head turn back on.
What the ever-loving fuck? Did they just throw in a random shot of Carrie smoking to drum up drama, because I don’t think we’ve ever seen her with a cigarette before. Why now—just because she’s preggers? Stupid.
Brody hallucinating and reliving his time held in captivity by Abu Nazir was almost too cruel. Lewis brought us right back to the time when his hell began. It’s gotten so easy to demonize Brody, we needed a reminder of how all this history began. A Marine…a man systematically broken down. It’s not unlike the way soldiers are broken down when they go through training; the show mirrored that beautifully in the scenes with Brody singing the Marine’s Hymn and picking himself up after he falls running.
Max and Virgil tracking the baguette—our tax dollars were duly earned—and giving Virgil his best line: “I think I buried the lead,” and Saul the ever-so-satisfying moment of pushing past Lockhart’s secretary, plopping into a seat and scoffing at Lockhart’s excuses. Unfortunately, making a deal with the devil isn’t really what any of us wants. Here’s hoping Saul (or Carrie) finds a better way to take down Lockhart.
No matter what good we see in anyone, these “good guys” (the CIA) are happy to disappoint with just how low they’ll sink in the name of their country. Last week, Quinn shot Carrie. Saul and Carrie are both willing to destroy Brody, physically and mentally. Both Carrie and Saul have convinced themselves their methodology is somehow better than an enemy who captured and would use Brody to their own ends. Are we not equally despicable, just as willing to sacrifice anyone in the name of what we believe is “right?”
I’ll say it: The scene with Dana and Brody was great; Morgan Saylor was excellent. This was appropriate and useful, albeit heartbreaking, family time.
Keeping them apart does Brody and Carrie good. The tension between them was all the stronger because they never really touched (just that once, Carrie), held each other or kissed. Let’s keep it this way, shall we?
Carrie has a point: “Have a little faith, Saul. Two weeks ago there was no operation. Now there is—because of me. I really need you to get that. Because in order for us to pull this thing off, we’re going to have to find a way to trust each other again. Or at least come up with a really great plan for faking it.”
Emmy Ranking: 10 out of 10, code green. Just throw all the Emmys this way.
Brody has to die, right? He’s a goner. And poor Carrie will be forever sad she couldn’t tell him she was having his baby. That works. Again, I think it’s best if Carrie leaves at the end of the season as well.
Adal is so deliciously wicked; I love the way he had that whackadoodie drug up his sleeve. And he has none of the mercy his fellow agents sometimes suffer. Oh, to sneak a peek into his backstory.
Why oh why was Rupert Friend promoted to series regular, and we don’t get to see him regularly? I need Rupert every single week.
Speaking of which, Virgil and Max are delightful every time they show up—spinoff, please?