Homeland Recap: Traffic on the Beltway

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland (episode 4) - Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: homeland_103_1036 Photo: Kent Smith/Copyright: Showtime 2011
Episode Title
Semper I

The Brody-Jess-Mike triangle gets a little more interesting this week. You all may be enjoying this storyline more than I am, I don't know; it's just between this and The Walking Dead, I am all justifiable-love-triangled out. Sure, we get more "does he know?" behavior from Brody, as he acts pissy with Mike and then thanks him for "taking care of Jess" while he was gone. Mike says Brody would have done the same for him. "You know what?" Brody says, "I don't know if I would have." It's the same stuff we're always getting from Brody: suspicious behavior that could just as easily be chalked up to his post-traumatic state. It's the same thing when he comes upon Jess and Chris in the backyard, checking out a deer that has wandered to the edge of their yard. Chris is fascinated by the creature (what is with kids being mesmerized by deer this season? It's like I can't escape the Walking Dead parallels here), but Brody immediately sees it as a threat. A threat to Jess's tulips, sure, but the more Jess insists that it's no big deal, the angrier Brody gets. It's interesting that the deer is encroaching on their yard from the same angle that the reporter took a few weeks ago, before Brody throat-punched him. In Brody's mind, a threat is a threat.

Back to Carrie and Brody, though, as her in-person surveillance — and her desperation to find something on Brody that will justify resuming the wiretap — leads her to make her most reckless move yet: She walks into the support-group meeting and makes contact with Brody. He remembers her from the interrogation, and he finds her easier to talk to than most because she was in the shit in Iraq. There's more to it than that, of course. There's an unmistakable hint of sexual charge in the air as they banter in the parking lot. She's working him, of course — and depending on whether he's a terrorist or not, he might be working her as well. But after four weeks of 24/7 observation — to the point where she could talk him through his morning routine because she knew it by heart — there's a strange intimacy there, made all the stranger by the fact that he doesn't know how much she knows about him. Things with Jess and Mike may have gotten marginally more interesting this week, but I'm far more compelled by what this encounter between Carrie and Brody means for the show going forward than by anything happening in the Brodys' marriage. Between this and the goings-on with the Fizels at Airport House, it feels like Homeland just pushed things into Phase 2.