Homeland Recap: Sex, Lies, and Surveillance Tape

Morena Baccarin as Jessica Brody and Damien Lewis as Nicholas
Photo: Kent Smith/Showtime

Previously on Homeland: “FUCK THIS SHIT!”

Looks like Homeland isn’t wasting any time addressing some of the tantalizing ambiguities it’s been establishing. This is probably a good thing for a show with such a blaring central mystery. We know we’re not going to find out whether Nick Brody is truly a secret terrorist until the end of this season (that is, unless the show decides to pull a Killing, a maneuver which would not get one tenth the amount of vitriol if Homeland did it, I would wager), so it’s important that the smaller questions that crop up during the season aren’t all similarly pushed off to some big reveal that would then need to answer more questions than one reveal could.

This week, two particular audience suspicions were addressed. The first was something you guys mentioned in the comments last week, but I totally didn’t pick up on: all the suspicion thrown on Saul after the Hamid suicide. After all, Hamid could have gotten that razor blade when Saul greeted him with the unnervingly intimate cheek kiss. I figured Saul was just playing the sensitive-to-your-traditions Good Cop, but clearly y’all and the show were on the same wavelength, because after Carrie suggests a polygraph for everybody involved with the Hamid interrogation (the better to smoke out Brody), it’s Saul who is conspicuously uncomfortable with the process, and at a crucial moment, he spikes on the question of whether he slipped Hamid the razor blade. Carrie, of course, has no reason to suspect Saul, but it’s seeming more and more likely that between the Hamid suicide and Faisel and Aileen getting tipped off, there is somebody funneling information out of the CIA and to the terrorists. Saul’s blip on the poly gets chalked up to stress — and in fact Saul says something to the effect of he always has trouble with these kinds of tests. Maybe that means he’s always been a mole, but there’s certainly ample enough evidence that the test is flawed when Brody managed to outright lie and his levels never once waver.

And that’s not even getting into the developments with on-the-run terrorists Faisel and Aileen. We find out that it’s pretty, blonde Aileen who is the prime mover in that operation, having operations training in ways that Faisel doesn’t even understand. Decades of twisty-turny spy fiction have robbed reveals like those from any true shock value, but it was enjoyable watching Aileen track footprints and sniff out a bomb in the supposed safe house they’ve been sent to, while Faisel murmurs about being “a victim of [Aileen’s] fabulousness.” After the bomb, they correctly suspect that they’re now being treated as expendable risks. Their suspicions are confirmed when Faisel is gunned down in their motel room. The sight of Aileen escaping through the bathroom window like a Final Girl in a horror movie was pretty exciting.

The Faisel portion of the terror investigation certainly seems to have Saul’s blood pumping harder than it’s been all season. It seems like this plot has re-awakened his inner field agent, and he ends up asking Estes to be considered for a field position in New Delhi. Of course, this is all because his wife is going to work there. Unfortunately for Saul, she’s not exactly thrilled that he may be moving along with her. His disintegrating marriage worked on a few fronts: It was a possible explanation for Saul’s poor performance on the poly, and if he is a double agent (I should say for the record that I really don’t believe he is, and the fact that we’re being asked to suspect him so early in the season likely means he’s not), it could be part of an explanation why, and it was a reminder of the costs of doing such high-pressure work. It’d be an object lesson for Carrie if she had a real relationship and wasn’t just sexing up suspected terrorists.

Which brings us to the second payoff of this episode. This one seemed obvious to me from the moment Carrie wandered into that church basement and “accidentally” encountered Brody at the support group. Their interaction with each other crackled with latent sexual tension. Which makes total sense — Brody was more comfortable with someone who understood the battlefields he’s been on, while we have seen that Carrie has not been shy about using her sexuality as a tactic. So when a drunken Brody calls up Carrie and they meet up at the bar, it was only a matter of time before her slurry rants against the Washington Wizards (it really is a dumb name for a sports team) would turn into torrid sex in the backseat of her car. From an audience perspective, Carrie has never been more opaque about her intentions as she has been with these personal encounters with Brody. Up until now, she’d been an open book about her suspicions, her frustrations, and her battle plan. Is she purely using this sexual encounter to get close to Brody so she can keep better tabs on him? Did all her surveillance inspire a kind of Stockholm syndrome? Might she be getting a dark thrill out of the idea of sleeping with the enemy. I liked the idea that on a week when the audience was suddenly privy to a possible threat that Carrie is blind to (Saul), suddenly we’re not so privy to what’s going on in Carrie’s head.

Complicating matters further is when Brody is called in to take the poly. That his stress levels are eerily steady is no surprise— did anybody think for a second that he was going to flunk that test? But when Carrie buzzed in from the hidden room to instruct the test-giver (James Urbaniak, bizarrely lovable as always) to ask Brody if he’d ever been unfaithful to his wife, shit got real. Brody lied and he lied well, but since Carrie isn’t about to bust herself for screwing the target of her (unsanctioned) investigation, she can’t call him on it. Once again, these two compelling figures are at a stalemate. The only difference is that now, if the final scene of Brody confronting Carrie in the parking lot is any indication, they’re both aware of it.

Carrie’s Fridge Update: Nothing further, though with the hangover she had coming to her the morning after schtupping Brody, we hope she had some Diet Coke on the premises.

Brody Marital Strife Update: After Brody speaks at the memorial service for his friend and murder victim Tom Walker, he gets yelled at by a fellow Marine for selling out to the government propaganda machine. When the attacks get personal enough that Mike jumps in to defend Jessica’s honor, Brody beats the shit out of Mike. Can we maybe pay that one off next and just get it out in the open that Brody knows about Jess and Mike? I’m sorry, I still can’t care about the triangle.

Your CIA iPod Track of the Week: Well if Carrie and Saul are anything to go by, it’ll be some Thelonious Monk. Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize America was being protected by pretentious jazz listeners!

Homeland Recap: Sex, Lies, and Surveillance Tape