I have a feeling that this week’s Homeland may have been a make-or-break episode for some viewers. It showcased many of the show’s best strengths, including Claire Danes and Damien Lewis’ acting; the taut, ruthless storytelling pace; and Mandy Patinkin’s advance placement beardage. It also, however, exposed several of the show’s weaknesses, like how thinly written Jessica Brody and Mike Faber are; how little David Estes has to do; and how much credulity-straining leeway the CIA continually gives Carrie’s brazen behavior. Mostly, though, I think your appreciation for this episode — and for the show in general — may come down to whether you thought Saul and Quinn arguing while listening to Carrie boink Brody like they’re on a hotel adult cable pay-per-view was a brilliant juxtaposition, or a laughable self-parody.
Or, possibly, you could have shared my reaction: It was kinda brilliant and kinda laughable. My first thought watching this scene unfold was that the Saturday Night Live writers are likely kicking themselves for not waiting to do their Homeland sketch until after this episode aired. But I’m also willing to cut the show some slack. That scene was preceded by one of my favorite Carrie/Brody exchanges ever, and I at least liked the idea that Carrie’s professional life had become so fully enmeshed with her personal desires that her CIA colleagues were dragged into it too.
Oh, also, so I guess Abu Nazir is in the United States now?!?
Before we begin to full unpack all of that, however, we have to talk about Dana Brody. If ever there was a character who embodied all that is good and not-so-good about Homeland, it’s her. With each episode, Morgan Saylor has deepened our understanding of her character, finding the fragile child tucked inside the snide teenager and creating one of the show’s most complex personalities. And over the last four weeks, she’s done it trapped in a storyline that has teetered dangerously close to falling into a Kim Bauer cougar trap. Miraculously, this week, the writers found a way to get her out of it that also worked as genuinely affecting human drama.
We started the episode just an hour or so after the end of the last episode, with Dana alone on the streets of D.C. At first, I thought she was going to the home of the woman Finn Walden hit with his car, but instead, she paid a visit to the only real father figure she’d known in her life: Mike Faber. He let her in, and she promptly passed out, exhausted. Jessica dropped by later to check up, but instead of scooping her on home, she at least had the presence of mind to realize that Dana needed some time away from her crazybrains family. She clued Mike in on what was going on with Dana — explaining about the hit and run but not about who was behind the wheel — and then left because she’d dragged her son Chris along for no apparent reason other than to remind him that he will always be the second most important child in the Brody family.
When Dana woke up, Mike gently pushed her to call her mother while he was making dinner. Jessica agreed to let Dana stay the night, but with Brody once again MIA and Chris resigned to perpetually play Xbox off camera in his room, she was feeling quite suddenly all alone. “I miss you,” she told Dana. Therare expression of unambiguous affection that prompted Dana to tell her mother that Carrie was the one who put the kibosh on going to the police. “I’m sorry,” Dana said, knowing how hard it was for her mother to hear. “I didn’t say it to hurt you.” And for maybe the first time in years, she meant it.
NEXT PAGE: Dana makes an unwelcome house call