Review: ‘Homeland’ – ‘A Gettysburg Address’

Senior Television Writer
11.04.12 176 Comments


A review of tonight’s “Homeland” coming up just as soon as I write a poem about the wreck of the Hesperus…

“Bring Brody in, but don’t trust him.” -Quinn

For most of last season, the “Homeland” writers had a tool in their toolkit they don’t have this year: they knew more about what Brody was up to than we did. That generated a certain level of ambiguity and tension in almost every scene involving Brody, because it wasn’t clear which side he was on, what happened to him during his captivity, whether he was telling the truth, whether he was ready to explode literally, rather than just metaphorically.

By now, though, we know pretty much everything Brody has done and everyone he’s seen, so there’s less opportunity to play the “Everything you thought you knew was wrong!” trick again. And at this stage of the game I think “Homeland” is better with all its cards on the table. Brody can still lie about things – and already has – and he can still change his mind, but the “Homeland” writers are going to be better off not keeping secrets about either of our main characters.

And if they’re playing straight with us on Brody, then for now the surprises have to come from elsewhere, like Roya’s mystery contact who massacred Quinn’s forensics team, apparently killing off Galvez and the others(*), rather than whether Brody himself betrayed Carrie’s trust.

(*) Though I really hope they didn’t just bring Seth Gilliam in to say a line or two before killing him. Enough people have drawn the parallel between the Brody operation’s command center and the Major Crimes Unit from “The Wire,” and it would’ve been nice to have Sgt. Carver around for a bit to make the linkage more overt.

And yet I think the show wants us to have these doubts about him, which is why we got that sequence of Brody and Roya either silently communicating or simply waiting for the guy down the hall to move away, and why we got that scene at the end where Brody has to comfort a tearful, broken Carrie – their roles completely reversed from the week before – and are reminded that he has a stronger emotional hold on her than she does on him. The final shot of the episode features Brody’s face almost entirely in shadow. Damian Lewis plays inscrutable damn well even under good lighting, but this was a case, I think, of the series wanting us to have the same doubts about Brody that Peter Quinn has.

And I do think doubts are valuable. You don’t undo eight years of conditioning in a day without some slips and setbacks. I’m just going to be curious to see how this plays going forward. As it is, “A Gettysburg Address” couldn’t live up to “Q and A,” because what could? But as we steer towards the second half of a season that’s tended to be much stronger on character than on plot, I’d like to see the show’s two halves reach more of an equilibrium.

Some other thoughts:

* Yeah, as if we weren’t already primed to hate Walden enough, each week his son’s behavior gets worse and worse (and, by implication, is a mirror of his father’s). This is going to be one of those situations where the longer Dana waits to tell someone what happened, the worse it will be for her.

* Poor Mike, torn between his duty to his country (and the orders from Estes and Saul) and his loyalty to Jessica. Not sure that seeing a single bullet missing from Brody’s supply was the definitive proof Mike thinks it was, but I expect no good to come of him sharing his suspicions with her.

What did everybody else think?

Alan Sepinwall may be reached at

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