Did you see that coming? I sure didn’t. After spending the entire hour setting up our expectations for what the next few episodes would entail — namely, the careful surveillance of Nicholas Brody by the CIA, as his family and friends begin to fall away from him and suspect his motives — Carrie pulled the rug out from everything, including herself. Watching her stand in Brody’s hotel room, I was convinced we were about to witness Saul and new agency hard-ass Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) witness Carrie get it on again with Brody. That would have been enough of an OMG moment, and a fitting reversal to all the times Carrie had witnessed Brody’s painful fornications with his wife in the first season.
Instead, after some coy flirtation that effectively scrambled Brody’s radar, Carrie’s soft face suddenly hardened. “It reeks, you know,” she told Brody. “My confusion?” he replied. “Your bulls—.” Turns out Saul and Peter witnessed Carrie blow something entirely different: Their mission. Agents burst in. A hood was thrown on Brody’s head. And just like that, Carrie had forced the CIA to take a sitting U.S. Congressman into custody.
I’ll delve more deeply into this scene later on, but for now let me just give the folks at Homeland a one-man standing ovation for yet again exploding the possibilities for their show (and the minds of their audience) wide open, and for doing it with such effective misdirection. (Check out Ken Tucker’s excellent piece on the general narrative pleasures of Homeland here.)
Misdirection No. 1: The budding romance between Dana Brody and Finn Walden. After a few months in her new, posh private school, Dana had started to grow apart from her nominal stoner boyfriend, Xander. (I loved her response to Xander’s entreaty to get high: “That can’t be the only thing to do.” The “Just Say No” of the 2010s!) Pissed at her father (“a liar”) and embarrassed by her mother (“a rube”), Dana needed to talk with someone as jaded and cynical as she was. Enter the vice president’s son, wooing with saucy talk of Thomas Jefferson’s illicit affair with his slave Sally Hemings. While she was studying with Finn, the VP offered his best attempt at Dickish Dad of the Year by observing that his son is “all about the gentleman’s C’s.” Dana, bless her filterless brain, had a quick retort: “He got an A on yesterday’s quiz…I guess gentleman’s C’s don’t get you there anymore, not like in your day.” Burn.
Finn, of course, swooned, so much so he ditched studying, ushered Dana into his ridiculous BMW, and broke into the Washington Monument with the Secret Service in tow. Xander never stood a chance. With the D.C. skyline stretching out before them, the two teenagers kissed, and Finn proclaimed he wanted to be her boyfriend. Even though she was mindful of Xander, she wanted it too. She promised to break things off. That evening, Finn texted “Good night, Sally” to Dana; she responded, “Night, TJ,” sealing their bond with historical snark.
Watching this all unfold gave the episode a feeling of incremental advancement, of things slowing down enough to allow young love to take root. Instead, it would appear we’re headed to a star-crossed lovers story on speed, as the Brody family is likely to very soon find itself politically and socially radioactive. Just as well, really; I think Dana could do a lot better.
Misdirection No. 2: Mike and Lauder become unlikely Hardy Boys. From the moment he showed up on Homeland in season one, Lauder (Generation Kill’s Marc Menchaca) has been a fountain of rude truths, a fountain so foul that no one pays attention to it. Lauder seems like a man possessed with the need to return the world back to when it made sense, when Mike hadn’t slept with Jessica, when Brody wasn’t a slippery politician, when Walker hadn’t turned traitor — and when his legs were in working order. The righteousness of his quest gave him permission to show up at the Brody homestead, drunk and demanding to speak with his congressman, and camp out in their kitchen until he did.
NEXT: Carrie goes back on the job