Image credit: Kent Smith/Showtime
BEARD VS. BEARD After watching Saul (Mandy Patinkin) confront black ops svengali Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) at the latter's favorite waffle spot, I've begun fantasizing about a spin-off series that's just these two men touring greasy spoons across our fair land — kind of like that 2011 Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon film The Trip, but with way more growling.
It's the mission Nazir gave Brody that doesn't quite stand up to scrutiny for me. I buy that Nazir read in The New York Times that Walden has a pacemaker and a treadmill in his office (the character's most overt Cheneyesque quality), and I buy that when backed into a corner, Nazir would try for a hail mary pass to at least take out the best high profile target he can. But somehow I doubt even the most aggressive reporter would know about the plastic case containing the tiny serial number that controls the vice president's pacemaker. Nor for that matter do I think that a device that keeps the heart beating of the man who himself his a heartbeat away from the presidency would be susceptible to any kind of enemy hacking. (Those were dangling threads #4 & #5, for the none of you still keeping track.)
The entire thing screamed "PLOT DEVICE! PLOT DEVICE!" in the most obvious way to me: The writers just wanted the scene where Brody got to watch Walden die in front of him without Brody having to physically kill him. They didn't appear to mind that it meant Brody would be wandering willy nilly through the vice president's residence, with nary a secret service agent in sight. To keep this from becoming an all out rant, though, I do want to single out a few choice details during this sequence: I loved Brody tying his tie en route to the veep's home, and mindlessly requesting a "double shot of your best bourbon" from one of Walden's aides. And the decision by director Guy Ferland to shoot Brody's from entrance into the residence up through his departure to the "bathroom" in what seemed like a single take was a masterstroke in building tension.
Indeed, the taut direction and Damian Lewis' jittery performance helped sell the sequence beyond its seeming limitations, including the bit where Brody swore on Issa's immortal soul that he would give Nazir the serial number so long as he let Carrie go first, and Nazir totally bought it. And when Brody told Walden he was withdrawing his name from consideration, Jamey Sheridan finally got some meat of his own to chew, even if it was for a few brief moments. "It's for my family," said the man Walden had hand picked and groomed in his own image, challenging Walden's core reason for being — the constant pursuit and consolidation of power. Walden did not hesitate to respond. "F--- your family," he barked. "We're talking about the second highest office in this land. The possibility some day of the highest office in this land. You don't walk away from that."
And that's when the only apparent survivor in Abu Nazir's U.S. cell — i.e. the Kirsten Vangsness/Pauley Perrette/Barrett Foa of terrorism — entered the "exterminate" code for Walden's pacemaker. The moment Walden clutched his chest, Brody knew he'd won, and for the first time since he'd returned home with someone who wasn't Carrie, he revealed his true self. And it was ugly. "I want to feel clean again," he sneered at the vice president. "And I pretty much disagree with everything you say and do." Walden begged for a doctor; Brody refused. Walden lunged for the phone; Brody pulled it away. With his last breath, Walden growled "What are you doing?!" before collapsing into Brody's arms. Brody leaned in close. "You don't get it, do you?" he whispered, lowering Walden to the floor. "I'm killing you." Nevermind that Walden's death throes would have probably been heard by the secret service (dangling thread #6). Nevermind that the moment Estes hears Brody was present for Walden's demise, Brody will be a piece of asphalt black toast (possible dangling thread #6a, pending further evidence). Because, honestly, even with the far-fetched build up, even with how sketchily drawn the vice president has been as a character, I found this final confrontation to be completely satisfying. Brody's final sigh, standing over Walden's body, had a profound feeling of catharsis and closure. Now I can only hope the writers have the stones to end Brody's story the way they should.
NEXT PAGE: "That's what you did to Brody, isn't it? A lot of pain, a little love?"