Image credit: Kent Smith/Showtime
WHO IS NICHOLAS BRODY? DO WE CARE ANYMORE? The biggest problem with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is that until the season finale, the show had effectively answered all the major mysteries about him. Instead of continuing his story based on who is and what he wants, however, the writers chose to manufacture a brand new mystery — was Brody responsible for the bombing? — to hold our interest. Granted, as mysteries go, it's a humdinger; I anticipate some pointed debates with fellow Homeland obsessives in the following months. But I don't know if it makes Brody himself all that much more compelling of a character.
Carrie pressed on. "The thing is, Brody, I also love..."
"Careful," he warned.
"...being with you," she finished, zigging just enough to keep her declaration from freaking them both out. She looked so vulnerable, so young, in that flickering firelight, that it took my breath away. And that was before Carrie told Brody that he should be scared of the ugliness of her illness in the same way she is scared of the ugliness of his past actions. Though she never evoked it by name, it was the first time we got a sense of how Carrie felt about Brody sacrificing Walden's life for hers, and I was relieved to hear that it frightened her. For his part, Brody wasn't expecting that; I think he'd taken real comfort in thinking Carrie wasn't bothered by his past. Instead, her love for him was even greater: It was in spite of his past. "Maybe all this will end in tears," he realized. "Or," Carrie said with barely a whisper, "we might make it?"
Watching it all unfold, I wasn't sure if Carrie's darting eyes meant that she still planned on putting a bullet in his brain by the end of the episode. And in hindsight, I know one could also read into Brody's gentle efforts that night and the next morning to give Carrie an out — make the decision entirely hers, and his reaction entirely understanding — before the bombing. But I think the relationship is the real deal. It may be Homeland's own fault that it's conditioned its audience to always suspect a hidden agenda in every exchange, but I'm willing to give myself over to the idea that Carrie and Brody feel this constant pull between them because they can only be honest with each other.
I'm not the only one to notice the disarming purity of their attraction. With Carrie out getting morning croissants, Peter Quinn had a clean shot at Brody as he undertook his morning prayers in the beatific waterside sunlight. But Quinn didn't take it. (It's a measure of Homeland's anything-can-happen storytelling this season that I kinda bought in to this obvious fake-out.) Instead, he waited ominously that night in Estes' bedroom. Walden was dead. Brody was resigning. With no ability to reach higher office, he wasn't a threat to the nation anymore (or so Quinn thought). "Are you suddenly an analyst?" Estes asked with disdain. "No," Quinn said. "I'm a guy who kills bad guys." That said, Quinn had never seen a better intelligence officer than Carrie Mathison. "Killing Brody would kill her," he said evenly. "So the only reason to kill Brody now is for you, to cover your a--. And the collateral damage would be to wreck a woman you already wrecked once before. And I ain't doin' that." To make his point clear, Quinn stood, brandishing a pistol with a silencer. "Nothing happens to Brody, or you'll find me back in this bedroom one night, right back in that chair. 'Cause I'm a guy that kills bad guys." The wave of fear and shame overtaking Estes' face was the one — and, it turns out, the only — real moment of insight into the man's soul we got all season, and bless his unexpectedly chiseled arms, David Harewood made the most of it.
But this scene was also clearly directed at those know-it-all viewers (ahem) who are just as certain as Estes that Brody should die. Listen folks, the writers seemed to be saying, whether you like it or not, Carrie's given her heart to Brody. If we permanently take him out of the picture, we're all going to be in for a lot more episodes of Claire Danes' ugly cry face. Do you really want that to happen? No. Of course you don't. So stop blogging and tweeting about it and let us tell our story. To which I respond: You bring back Peter Quinn and Dar Adal as series regulars next year, and you just may have yourself a deal. Emphasis on may.
NEXT: "It is like you just don't know anyone."