‘Homeland’ – ‘Representative Brody’: My funny Valentine

Senior Television Writer
12.04.11 102 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Homeland” coming up just as soon as this isn’t my first polka…

Early in “Representative Brody,” Carrie repeats the mantra that Saul taught her about getting inside the heads of terror suspects: “You’re trying to find what makes them human – not what makes them terrorists.” That line sounds like a mission statement for “Homeland,” which has been telling a great thriller story throughout involving spies chasing terrorists, but has gotten so much power out of exploring the humanity on both sides.

“Representative Brody” kept that up, as Carrie spent much of the hour trying to work Brody(*) and Walker’s Saudi diplomat contact, who turns out to be in the terrorism game for the money, using his connection to Nazir to maintain his lavish, closeted lifestyle. Through the writing (by Henry Bromell, who keeps bringing over all the best parts of “Rubicon” into this show) and performance of Ramsey Faragallah, he turned from a plot device into an actual person, one who could surprise Carrie and Saul by angrily calling their bluff, but who’s still vulnerable to the deportation threat Carrie makes against his favorite daughter. He blowed up real good thanks to Tom Walker, but that was a fine character sketch over the course of the hour, and built up to a fantastic suspense sequence at the end, where it was clear very early on that something was wrong, but not that it could go quite that wrong. (Given Walker’s shooting skills, I figured he would just put a bullet in the guy’s head from a distance.)

(*) At first, I was yelling at Saul and Carrie to keep the interrogation going until they found out that Brody is also working with Nazir, but of course the show had already established that they were on a tight clock to get him back to the embassy before anyone noticed. And at this point in the story, they have no reason to suspect Brody, while their man has no reason to volunteer additional information without being asked about it.

Much as I prefer to focus on the character beats, “Homeland” is a thriller at heart, and the fiasco at the park again raises the question of whether there’s a mole in the CIA. It’s not impossible that Brody could have seen something in Carrie’s house to give it away, but if so, I didn’t notice what it could have been. Which means we have to once again be questioning the loyalty of Saul, David, Galvez, maybe even Larry the polygrapher. Place your bets, ladies and gentlemen.

We’ve got two episodes to go in this season – it’s really flown by, hasn’t it? – and where we once upon a time wondered about the show’s long-term viability, these last few episodes have set up a very clear framework for how the rest of this season and next will go. By introducing Walker as a separate but related threat, we have a conflict that the show can resolve in its final hours, while Brody continues on to his run for Congress, with Carrie realizing somewhere along the way that she was right about him the first time.

Brody’s end of the episode provided an interesting contrast to Carrie’s work with the diplomat, in that he’s a guy who claims to be operating out of what makes him human (his need for a cause and sense of duty), when he’s really operating out of what makes him a terrorist. Everything he tells Jessica and Mike is based on his knowledge of them and what buttons he can push – wrapping his forgiveness of Mike around a request for help with Jessica was just as cruelly manipulative in its own way as Carrie threatening to deport the daughter – and designed to keep him as a part of Nazir’s plan. He works his two biggest obstacles beautifully and turns them into allies, and he could be one hell of a politician, with or without the secret agenda.

I also appreciated that Jessica was smart enough to realize exactly what Carrie was to Brody, setting up that painful scene where Carrie’s expecting a romantic night of adultery and instead is told bluntly that this door has been shut to her forever. Great use of Miles Davis’ “My Funny Valentine” throughout that sequence and the montage that followed. 

What did everybody else think?

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