Cease and F-cking Desist
(Like the title was going to be anything else.)
Homeland Season 2 Episode 7 recap
I remain convinced that a threat is closer than ever, mostly because the show keeps telling me so – but in an episode that had a lot to do with marking time, we remember why Homeland is such a phenomenon: it understands not only the dramatic lives of CIA agents, but also the relatively banal internal lives of teenagers and families. Because nothing exists in a bubble, so we remember that even as Brody is being manipulated in a different way each hour, he also has this idea that he can maintain his standing with his family, somehow.
I guess Brody’s strategy here has just been to go limp, right? He and Jessica are doing their best to feel normal, to make it seem like they are two people driving in the right direction (kudos to her for having the balls to ask about Tom, even if she didn’t really want the answer), while meanwhile he makes fruitless protests at Roya because you know he’s still going to do whatever she tells him to, and can’t look away from the comfort that is Carrie. It might have been a game to him once – recently, even – but now he needs her.
She is not only the only person who tells him the truth, or the closest thing to it, she’s also the only one who can understand what it is to be several different people in a day, or to different people. Even as Brody says he feels played, he also feels good. He feels safe enough to be who he really is. And what kills me about this is that the two sides of Carrie are working in complete sync. Yes, having Brody in her thrall emotionally means it’s easier to do her job and get what she needs from him – but she also feels it, for real. God there is nothing f*cking creepier than him kissing her like that with his eyes open. Disturbed. Also, please never make out with her nose again. But I felt relief when they came together, because they are most naked when they’re on their own.
In fact, the greatest asset Carrie has is believing what she says when she says it. When she’s talking to Mike, she seems so reasonable, doesn’t she? This is what she has – the ability to talk to other people like they’re humans, and make them believe she’s not mathematically manipulating them as she goes. Maybe she even believes that, in the minute. But she can’t be that mathematical, because, well, who goes to make out with the suspect-slash-informant when their boss, their only newly-tenuously-back-on-good-footing boss, is a few hundred feet away? Thrillseekers, obviously, and Carrie falls into that category. But is the job so secure so soon that indiscretions with poor manipulated Brody don’t matter? I did like the pointedness of the war vet calling him “Nick” all the time. No need for false elevation here – he knows what we know: Brody’s just a guy. Just a regular guy. Calling him Nick points out what we already know -- that he understands Brody’s only a puppet here. Maybe understands more than we think.
I should point out that although I think Brody is out of his depth, I liked the swimming moment. They play it off like Brody thought better of it – like swimming with all his scars wasn’t worth the scrutiny and attention – but I saw it a little bit differently. I love the part of him that remains a little bit f-ck you, that figures if he’s going to be a poster boy for these people he may as well get to enjoy them squirming at the sight of his scars. That’s where he’s like Carrie. She loves this too. She’s a little too busy to screw with regular civilians most of the time, but she likes to do it.
I suppose the largest part of this episode was focusing on Dana learning that they’re not regular civilians anymore. She got the same message over and over. From Finn, who wants us to believe he would do the right thing if Daddy wasn’t such a big meanie, from his mother – and ultimately from dad himself. I don’t want to take away from Jessica here, who surprised me by instantly wanting to do the right thing; she took a lot of steps in my eyes, though not in Talia Balsam’s.
Still it was Brody who told Dana they were going to be the kind of people they’d always sworn they were, and it was he who disappointed her so completely. I’ve been saying that Dana’s standing at the precipice of being an uncontrollable cynic pretty soon, and I think we’re there. She can’t come back from this, now that Everyone Knows and nobody cares. You want to talk about where damage comes from? This is where. Having Carrie standing there doesn’t help, but Dana’s going to carry the image of her dad, morally handcuffed, for years to come. “My parents are different than yours.” Remember that? When you figured that out for the first time in a really fundamental way? That people who seemed the same could have completely different moral codes?
As for Saul, I found the story of his connection to Aileen a bit of a stretch, but I did really think she seemed to have been taking some serious acting lessons in the joint. I don’t know why I used to find her so irritating and now she’s completely compelling, but we can’t underestimate the power of becoming a brunette. More seriously, I found the story okay but can’t quite believe Saul doesn’t have any other contacts of his own after all these years – is that why others have jumped him in seniority? For that matter, is that why Mira left? Is Saul actually not that good?