As the first season of Homeland hit its final stretch, Carrie unraveled into mania and Claire Danes got to play every painful beat of her emotional breakdown. It was a big, showy, physical performance, but impeccably judged and more than likely earned Danes her Emmy. Now it's Lewis's turn in the spotlight, as Brody begins to fall apart under unthinkable pressure.
The image of Brody hunched in a foetal curl at the end of a darkened corridor was a potent one, because in that moment he literally feels the walls closing in around him - Carrie and the CIA's demands on one side, Roya and Abu Nazir's on another, the moral disappointment of Jess and Dana on yet another. In the earlier kitchen scene with Jess, he looked set to blow a gasket, and you can't blame him.
And even once his salvation arrived, in the temporary form of Carrie and another twisted romantic getaway, he continued to waver between unstable and catatonic. Lewis is phenomenal yet again, portraying Brody as a shattered, empty shell of a man who's just too exhausted to care what happens to him at this point.
He's far from emotionless, though, and there's an incredibly tender moment in the motel room when he calls Carrie crazy, and smiles at her with nothing but open warmth. Brody's feelings for Carrie have always been pretty ambiguous, in contrast to hers for him, but this week was the first solid indication that he really might love her too. But he's probably right to say that it isn't going to be enough to save him.
And then they had really, really great sex and the entire CIA task force heard it. Awkward. What was most remarkable about this (besides, well, everything) was the fact that Carrie knew that she had taken Brody to a place where Saul could track them, and so had at least an inkling that they might be overheard by Saul, Quinn et al. We've gotta give the girl props, though - she did not let it hold her back. Yowza.
In fact, between Aileen's untimely end and the events of this episode, poor Saul is not having a good time with surrogate daughters. The exquisite agony of his telling Quinn, "You have got to give Carrie a chance," as her moans of ecstasy are transmitted loudly in the background was bad enough, but he also got knocked back later by Carrie telling him that she isn't his daughter, even though that's plainly how he sees her.
But however uncomfortable that moment was, it was nothing to the sheer sweaty-palmed tension of the last ten minutes, with Brody being led to a darkened clearing by a frighteningly impassive Roya, Carrie terrified that he's about to be killed, and the CIA desperately trying to get a visual handle on what's going on without blowing their cover. Genuinely blood pressure-raising in a way that the show hasn't been since around episode four.
With Brody and Abu Nazir reunited, we'll get to see whether Carrie's reprogramming will hold up or whether Nazir will be able to twist Brody back into the deadly weapon he'd become. And if Brody does resist, there's nothing to stop Nazir forcing him into submission by threatening his family.
While our hearts sank slightly when the episode began with Dana wandering over to Mike's place, Brody's family really held their own for once tonight in terms of emotional weight. As irritated as we've been by both characters lately, Dana and Mike's scenes together really did make sense - he was a father to her for almost as long as Brody, and it was a sign of maturity that she was able to acknowledge how hard Brody's return must have been for Mike.
Dana's been so absolutely on Brody's side in the past that it's refreshing to see those dynamics shifting slightly, and her relationship with Jess in particular has really benefited this season. It was becoming one-note at a certain point with Dana being nothing but bratty to her mum, but it's been allowed to evolve into a much more convincing dynamic and their final scene tonight was really sweet, and really satisfying.
For that matter, the scene where Dana goes to see the daughter was pretty devastating and effective, so we're wondering if our whole problem with the hit and run storyline has been Finn.
So, questions! How is Brody's absence going to be explained to Walden? And how about Jess and the kids? How did Nazir get back into the US? Will he try to turn Brody, or just blackmail him into being a triple agent? Will Carrie go on a kamikaze mission to recover her beloved? Will Saul shave his beard in a symbolic gesture of grief? Is Virgil the mole? Will Chris Brody ever have a purpose? Share your answers below…
- Okay, we've been rough on Mike lately so we'll throw him a bone - those scrambled eggs and bacon looked delicious. Bet Brody doesn't cook breakfast too often.
- Carrie's ultimate walk of shame into Langley the morning after. Geeesh.
- While it's understandable that Carrie's grossed out by the realisation that everybody heard her sex noises, her calling them "perverts" is a bit rich. It wasn't that long ago that she was casually noshing on Chinese food while watching Brody have sex with his wife.
- Poor Chris continues to be physically unable to talk about anything besides sports. Is anyone keeping track of his endless slate of extracurricular activities, by the way?
- After a couple of weeks off, Estes is back to full-on douche mode. Not that he was entirely wrong about Carrie taking Brody off the grid, but come on! You already disbelieved her once and look how that turned out, dude.
- There was a lot of uncomfortable comedy wrung out of the surveillance this episode - not just the Carrie/Brody sex, but the scene where Carrie and Virgil became increasingly impatient with Brody and Jess's domestic spat.
- Now that Jess knows that Brody was lying to her about Carrie, surely their marriage can't be long for this world - not with Mike and his eggs waiting reliably in the wings.
- If you have not yet seen SNL's recent Homeland skit, featuring Anne Hathaway as Carrie and Bill Hader as a pitch-perfect Saul, we can highly recommend it. "No. No. No. David, no. No. NO."