Homeland Recap: Every Good Cop Needs a Bad Cop

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October 30, 2012 by Susan Miller

It’s the sociopaths with knives that undo us.

This week we finally stop to ask ourselves, Is that true? Do we need an al-Qaeda zealot (Brody) to balance out an American zealot (Carrie)? Or a fake loose canon (Peter) to balance out a real loose canon (Carrie)? Or a sage, reserved spy to balance out a shoot from the hip, work off a hunch cowgirl? I do like how every major character in this show is essential a foil for Carrie in some way or another. This week, however, the careful balance this show has struck got its firmest shake. With Sgt. Brody apprehended, turned and released, where does this leave the other characters? First some other questions:

Is Peter really a psychopath or does he just play one on TV?

Steven: I am going to side with Estes here and say that Peter is a stand-up guy. The way he sets Brody up so completely and quickly is impressive. Then there’s the turn where Brody goes from denying everything to denying only the bomb, and then finally Peter turns to the matter at hand: Abu Nazir’s next move. Here, he kind of loses his cool. Peter’s voice goes from solid and leading to erratic, emotional even. It was like watching two politicians debate, that moment where the one who is obviously lying his face off starts to win because the other guy can’t catch him in a lie and is clearly frustrated by this fact. So what does Peter do? The old knife trick. Was it effective? It certainly seemed to help Carrie get Brody to confess and repent. Or at least say he would repent. Whether or not Peter stabbing Brody through the hand will have a long term effect (it’s certainly short of 100 years of torture, or however long they made Brody curl up in the fetal position), but he at least is being honest for the first time. If I were Brody I would have 1000 ulcers, and I’d probably be acting more like Blanche DuBois than Rambo by this point. The temptation to get that many secrets off of my chest would certainly be appealing, and when he finally does break, I’m not surprised. He’s wound up so tight by this episode that I think the knife was overkill. Throwing a cold drink in his face might have done the trick just as well. It did let us see Peter’s personality a little more, though, so I think it was worth it.

Susan: I know that we’re supposed to believe that he just got angry in the interrogation room and stabbed Brody so that Carrie could come in and play good cop.  I know that’s what the conversation with Saul is there to make us believe.  But I don’t believe it, much like I still don’t believe that Saul is a good guy.  What is it about his beard of secrets that makes him so untrustworthy in my mind?  I felt like he came in and interrupted Carrie’s interrogation about 2 minutes too soon.  All the recaps I’ve read say that Brody admitted to wearing the vest o’ bombs.  I didn’t read it like that at all.  He certainly gave up Roya and other contacts that he knew.  He admitted to working with Nazir.  But he didn’t tell them that he killed the tailor in Gettysburg.  He didn’t tell them where the vest is now.  He never actually said that he wore it into that bunker.  I think he would have, had Saul not walked in at that moment.  As for Peter – I think he’s a bit of a rager, and I think that will continue to play out alongside Carrie’s lovesick, reckless tendencies.  He is a bad cop to her good,  but neither of them are in full control of their emotions.

Should they trust Brody? Should we trust Carrie?

Steven: So, I initially wrote “Should they” but what I really meant to write was “They absolutely shouldn’t.” And instead of a question mark, I meant to write 10,000 exclamation marks. Are these agents for real? They’re putting their faith, all of it, in a man who has been working in the US for al-Qaeda and whose only sign of good faith was that he didn’t blow up the Vice President and he is sorry about all of this. The other asset they’ve turned so far in the series was a homosexual whose daughter would be sent back to Saudi Arabia and who would be more than likely killed by his home country, or at the very least deprived of everything. He was not a terrorist, but a cultured dude who liked the West better than the Middle East. Brody is ready to blow himself up for his allegiance to the god he converted to through force. He is not somebody to strike up a bargain with because he is not a rational human person. Abu Nazir made sure of that when he reconstructed him from various Brody-parts. The real question is, Should we trust Carrie?

What I know about bi-polar: it also does not make for the most rational human persons (RHPs). Estes and Saul have screwed her over. Her feelings for Brody were so strong at one point that she completely threw out her pet theory, going so far as to tell him all about it. What makes us think she won’t have a change of heart and take on a new goal, forget fighting terrorism, and try to convince Brody to really leave his wife and run away with her? The way she acted in the last scene of episode “New Car Smell,” the venom she pours out at him, makes me think there is more than just espionage going on here. Carrie is a woman scorned, a woman torn in half, and a reconciliation might be just the thing to make her whole. (It won’t.) But it might help. (It will definitely hurt.) But she might think that it might help because she’s not a very RHP. (That’s true.) Okay, I’ll stop talking to myself and let Susan get a word in.

Susan: Can anyone trust anyone anymore?  In life?  In TV?  In matters of national security?  Sigh.  The simple answer here is actually, I think, maybe, yes.  Brody’s belief system is so strained right now that I think he will do anything to survive.  So if the CIA gives him the best chance for survival and protects his family, then absolutely we can trust him.  He’s been broken completely and has no idea where to turn.  He’s a caged animal, but he has a survival instinct.  Protect him, and he’ll stay in your corner.  As for Carrie, she has a different kind of survival instinct and that’s being with Brody.  There’s no way that the CIA will let her back in more than she is now, and there’s no way that she’s allowed to be a part of it at all without Brody.  Also, she’s in love with the dude, so that’s an added perk/complication.  She’ll do everything in her power to protect and control Brody – no matter what her orders from Estes or Saul or Peter are.  So we can trust Carrie to keep the show interesting because she’ll try to get as many scenes with Brody as possible.  But her bosses, as usual, can’t trust her at all.

Stray Thoughts

The Finn/Dana subplot made me extremely nervous and was the most unsettling part of the show.  When they started racing down the street I was terrified they would kill someone and now Dana has to carry this burden around with her into her house of burdens and lies?  It’s too heavy and I hope it comes to light soon.  I also hope this subplot has some longer, higher, more connected purpose to the season.  I think it will, because the writers of Homeland are good at that.  I’ll just say I’m cautiously optimistic with a stomach full of dread.

Jessica’s a pretty smart wife.  I’m always impressed when TV wives are depicted as normal, curious, aware human beings.  I love that she, and not VP Walden, is the one causing the CIA so much grief about Brody’s absence.

Interesting that Carrie rescued Brody from his lies, only to hand him a new set of more complicated ones.  How many times a day do you think he wishes he had just died in that hole?

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