Thursday, November 1, 2012

Showtime “Homeland” Turnabout #205 “Q & A”

by Catherine Giordano

Episode 5 of season 2 of Showtime’s “Homeland” is entitled “Q&A.” I’m renaming the show “Turnabout” because everyone is having their life turned inside out. 

We began the season with Brody triumphant (a newly-elected congressman on the short list to be VP) and Carrie broken. Turnabout.  By the end of episode 5, Carrie is triumphant and Brody is broken.

Brody has been brought into the headquarters of the secret CIA operation being run by Estes, Saul, Carrie, and Peter Quinn, an agent brought in by Estes. Saul wants Carrie to question Brody because she knows him best, but Estes overrules him and appoints Quinn to be the grand inquisitor.

Brody denies everything. Quinn then shows him the confession video and leaves him to stew about it. Brody doesn’t stew, he strategizes. When Quinn returns to the room, Brody admits to making the tape in a moment of despair and confusion (PTSD) and swears that he never had a suicide vest and never tried to kill anyone. He is not part of any terrorist cell and he knows nothing about the killings that occurred outside the capitol building. “You got nothing on me,” he shouts.

Quinn begins to pressure him about his knowledge of Abu Nazir and terrorist plots.  Body continues to maintain that he knows nothing. Quinn snaps and stabs Brody’s chained hands with a knife that he had hidden on his person. Quinn is rushed out of the room. Turnabout. Quinn hadn’t really “lost it”, he was just setting the stage for a good-cop/bad-cop play.

Carrie now enters the room ready to play “good-cop.” Carrie begins by telling Brody how much he hurt her. “You broke my heart. I lost everything.” Brody isn’t buying her “wounded innocence” ploy.  “We were playing each other,” he says.

Carrie wants to prove that she is there as his former lover and not as a CIA agent. She uncuffs Brody. She turns off all the cameras to prove to Brody that she is talking to him one-to-one. Turnabout. Unbeknownst to Brody, she leaves the audio on.   

She begins talking to Brody about how hard it is to suffer a trauma, but have no one you can talk to about it. She tells him about how her interpreter was burned alive and hung from a bridge on her last assignment in Beirut. She tells him how she can’t talk to anybody about how she feels, how she still has nightmares, how she shakes uncontrollably, how she lies to anyone who asks about it. “The lies undo us,” she says.  This is the “if only-you knew-how-true-those-words-are” moment of the week.  Brody and Carrie are both enmeshed in a web of lies and will be even more enmeshed by the end of the episode.

Not Carrie subtly shifts the focus onto Brody.  “Are you sure you are not a monster?” she asks. Brody says he is sure. Carrie responds, “But Nazir is.”  

Carrie tells him that Nazir broke him and then put him together again so he could use him for his own purposes.  He tells him how Nazir doesn’t attack military targets, he attacks trains and places where hundreds of innocent people lose their lives. People like Brody’s wife and children. Carrie tells him that he is not like Nazir. He did not explode his suicide vest. He listened to the pleas of his daughter to come home. She tenderly holds his hand.

Brody breaks. Carrie asks him about the terrorist plot. Brody says that he knows that there is a plot, but he doesn’t know anything more. Carrie asks him who might know the details. Brody says “Roya Hammond,” a journalist who is Brody’s contact. The men in the other room listening in all gasp. They had no suspicions about Roya.

By this time, Brody has been gone for a couple of days. Estes told Brody’s chief of staff that he was on a secret mission for the CIA and he must make sure no one questions Brody’s absence. The chief of staff tells Jess, Brody’s wife, that Brody has the flu and is holed up in his hotel room. Jess goes to the hotel with a Tupperware bowl full of chicken soup, but she finds only an empty room.

Brody is given a phone and told to call his wife and tell her that he is OK. After he does this everyone leaves Brody alone in the room. Brody slumps to the floor. He is shattered. I’m not sure how long he remains on the floor, perhaps hours, perhaps overnight.

Eventually, Carrie returns to the room and says “We need to go over your options.” The country does not want the embarrassment of having a traitor in their midst. Brody surely wouldn’t want to spend the rest of his life in prison (at best, he could get the death penalty.) He wouldn’t want to bring pain and disgrace to his family. The team suggests that it would be best for everyone if Brody became a double (or is it triple?) agent. Brody agrees to gain information about the terrorists and pass it on to the CIA. Turnabout.  Brody has abandoned the terrorists and now works for the CIA.

Carrie will be the conduit. Their affair will be their cover. When Brody has information, he will call Carrie and say “I miss you.”  

Will there be more turnabouts? Is Brody sincere about working for the CIA? Is Carrie still in love with Brody? When she declared her love for him during the interrogation was she being honest with him? Is he now nothing more to her than her “asset,” someone she “turned” while doing her job as a CIA agent?  Will she be able to keep their relationship “strictly professional”? Are they both just "playing each other" again.?  Here's the thing about lies.  When you live a lie long enough, it starts to be true.

When Brody arrives home, he tells his wife he was on a bender. He begs her to take him back. She says she will do so only if he tells her the truth. He tells her he is working with the CIA and that just by saying that, he has said too much. Turnabout. Jess who was angry and suspicious and apparently ready to renew her affair with Mike, believes Brody and takes him back. 

One more shocking turnaround in this episode.  Brody’s teenaged daughter goes on a date with Alex, the teenaged son of the vice president. They are in Alex’s car alone being followed by the secret service agents assigned to protect the vice president’s family. Dana and Alex decide to “lose” the agents just for the hell of it. They speed and careen around corners and lose the agents, but in doing so, they hit a pedestrian.  Dana wants Alex to stop, but Alex says that he’s the vice president’s son and the scandal would ruin his father. Alex speeds off; he and Dana are now guilty of a “hit-and-run.”   

Dana arrives home as her father and mother are reconciling. Jess remarks that Dana is home early, but Jess is pre-occupied with own situation at the moment and does not pursue it further. (Dana does have a way of walking in on her parents at the worst possible time.)  

The characters are all turned around. The audience is all turned around too. What’s next?  I can’t imagine, but I’ll be in front of my TV set at 10pm Sunday night to find out.

By Catherine Giordano

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