Episode Title: "Q&A"
Writer: Henry Bromell
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Previously on "Homeland":
If “Homeland” could ever be presented as a stage play, we saw an extended 15 minute preview of it in “Q&A.” And it was amazing.
TV and film have redefined the art of storytelling, but sometimes great drama can be found with nothing more than two people locked in a room with drastically different agendas.
Naturally, full spoilers are ahead for the latest episode of “Homeland.” Stop reading now if you want to avoid knowing what happened.
The writers of “Homeland” have apparently been making a running gag out of the cheap writing tricks that could have undone everything that they’ve accomplished in the first five episodes of the season. We saw Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) lose the microchip with the suicide message of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) in a Lebanese airport only to later reveal that he kept the real chip hidden. We also saw Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) get shut out by the CIA and kept in the dark about what she had found until Saul showed the video to her.
In “Q&A,” that trick was employed once again as Brody maintained that he never actually wore a suicide bomb vest during his aborted attempt to kill Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan). With the recording clearly in the hands of the CIA, Brody conceded to Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) that he did have some small ties to the terrorist, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban). But nothing else.
And for about half of the episode, it looked like Brody might slither away from custody because the CIA’s evidence was fairly weak, thanks to Carrie’s actions in last week’s episode. Make no mistake, that would have been a huge mistake if the writers had chosen to go in that direction.
Instead, a contrivance was used to get Carrie and Brody in the same room again when Peter attacked Brody with a knife out of frustration. Although Peter later insists that he only stabbed Brody as a way to set up Carrie as the “good cop,” he had clearly reached the limits of what he could do with Brody during the interrogation.
Enter Carrie, who starts off her interrogation of Brody by disconnecting all of the cameras (but not the audio feeds) and freeing Brody’s hands while also giving him water. The remarkable thing is that Brody knew what Carrie wanted out of him and that she was playing him so that he would open up… and it still worked.
There’s a good chance that Danes and Lewis will repeat their Emmy Award wins next year thanks to the power of their long sequence together in this episode. Over the course of several minutes, Carrie chips away at Brody’s defenses and even shocks him by saying that she wants him to leave his family to be with her.
It’s hard to tell how much of what Carrie said was real and how much of it was a performance that she put on for Brody. But it’s likely that it was both the truth and a performance. Carrie hates Brody for what he did to her and yet she can’t seem to let go of the part of her that still loves him. And it’s that part of Carrie that allows her to finally reach him.
I don’t want to belabor the point of how good that both performers were in that scene, but their facial expressions and body language were magnificent. Both Lewis and Danes rose to the occasion and it may be one of the most memorable scenes on TV this year. Brody’s final breakdown starts slowly, but he soon admits that everything that Carrie suspected was true and that Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson) is his connection to Abu Nazir.
Brody’s response to admitting the truth was to basically curl up in a ball on the floor and shut out the world. Maybe he even hoped for death or some way to escape the consequences of what he had done and what he had just admitted to. Abu Nazir took years to break Brody down and mold him into someone that he could use. Carrie pulled it off in a much shorter time.
So, now we know how “Homeland” can continue this season. With the promise (or hope) of immunity, Brody will serve as the CIA’s spy against Abu Nazir and help them try to foil Nazir’s latest attack on America with Carrie as his handler.
It’s almost impossible to know whether Brody feels as deeply about Carrie as she does about him, but it was very telling when Brody grasped Carrie’s hand in the car as she drove him home. There was desperation in his action and it seemed as if he was looking for anything to hold on to. For better or worse, Carrie is Brody’s only lifeline to survive this ordeal. And Brody may be Carrie’s only way of ever regaining the life she lost to their disastrous affair.
Along the way, David Estes (David Harewood) and one of Brody’s congressional aides tried to hide Brody’s disappearance, but Brody’s wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin) wasn’t having any of it. Baccarin has the thankless task of remaining one of the few characters completely in the dark over what is really happening with her husband. But she remains engaging and it was fun to watch Jessica attempt to figure out where her husband had gone.
Less compelling was Dana Brody’s (Morgan Saylor) subplot with her new boyfriend, Finn Walden (Timothée Chalamet), the son of the Vice President. In an attempt to forget about her family’s turmoil, Dana encourages Finn when he speeds away from his Secret Service detail. And it’s all fun right up until Finn runs down a woman in the street… and he decides not to stop out of fear of bringing a scandal down on his father and himself.
That felt like a very “CW” soap opera twist for the series and unworthy of the rest of the episode. It’s just an unnecessary level of melodrama that wasn’t needed when the rest of the episode was on fire. We already had enough information to believe that Finn wouldn’t stand by Dana once (or if) the truth about her father came out. And the way Finn squirted his responsibility for the accident makes me think that he’ll try to set Dana up for the fall.
In the closing moments, Brody is finally reunited with his family and he privately confides with his wife that he is working with the CIA… even if he doesn’t elaborate on how or why that came to be. Weirdly enough, Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff) and Lauder Wakefield’s (Marc Menchaca) crazy theory from last week’s episode has come true. But if Mike and Lauder keep poking at Brody’s story, everything could still unravel.
Aside from the Dana subplot, this was nearly a perfect hour of television. “Homeland” has been fantastic this season. And if “Homeland” can keep up this level of intensity, it really could be the best drama on TV.