Homeland Recap: The Lies That Undo Us -- Including the Best Moments From That Scene

The following recap, by the very definition of the word “recap,” contains spoilers from this Sunday’s Homeland.

This week on Showtime’s Homeland, from about 10:23 pm to 10:38 pm, a master class in acting was taught by Emmy winners Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.

Setting the stage for the uninterrupted, 15-minute presentation of prowess: Having brought in the treasonous Nicholas Brody (a lot sooner than ever expected), the CIA worked quickly to extract intel from the Marine Sergeant/onetime POW-turned-congressman before his contacts in Abu Nazir’s network realized he had been made. (CIA boss Estes did his best to cover for the MIA politico with a “flu” fib, but Jessica and her bowl of soup unraveled that whopper in a jiffy.)

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Estes’ guy Peter Quinn took first crack at Brody, ignoring the demand for “a f–kin’ lawyer!” and plowing through a recap of the captive’s time with Abu Nazir, asking the million-dollar Q: “Why did the torture stop?” Brody stuck to his story — Issa was a “guard,” he never met Nazir nor his son, never converted to Islam — and wholly denied any plan to assassinate VP Walden. To which Quinn said: Let’s go to the videotape.

After letting Brody “suck on that” for a bit, Quinn comes back in and Brody starts to fold like a house of cards — except he adamantly refutes the claim that he wore a bomb into the panic room when Gaines got shot. It is here that we, for a moment, must wonder: Because they have, as Brody noted, “no real evidence at all… nothin‘” on that front, could he somehow skate? When Brody holds firm with his denial, Quinn indulges in a(n admitted) bit of theater and plunges a dagger into the prisoner’s hand, then has to be pulled away, setting the table for “good cop” Carrie.

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Save for a 30-page transcript, there’s no way to do the 15-minute Carrie/Brody scene justice. But let’s break down Ms. Mathison’s (at times paraphrased/condensed) approach, and some highlights:

GUILT TRIP | “You broke my heart, you know. Because of you, I questioned my own sanity. I lost my job, my place in the world… everything. Do you feel a sliver of guilt?”

HEART ATTACK | “Do you think I’m obsessed with you? Is this a one-way street? I’m a big girl, I can take it. Tell me you felt nothing.” (Brody only allows: “I’m sorry I hurt you.”) “I’m just happy talking to you again,” Carrie smiles. She then shuts off all the cameras, flashes a kinda-crazed grin and quips: “Alone at last!”

THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE | Carrie gives Brody water, then uncuffs him (to which his immediate response is the look above, which kinda says: “I could snap your neck right now. And I’ve done just that to people who interrupt calls from my wife.”) Carrie talks of how the war is hard to relate to outsiders, that “no one survives intact.” “It’s the lies that undo us,” she says, starting in on her primary assault. “When was the last time you told the truth?” Brody claims “five minutes ago,” when he said he never wore a bomb. He says he lobbed his confession video into the trash after making it. “And it just happened to wind up the Beirut home of a hezbollah commander?!” Touché. “Wouldn’t it be a relief to stop lying?” she asks. “I could say, ‘Brody, I want you to leave your wife and children and be with me.’ It feels good! Try it.”

TRAIL OF TEARS | Having proved how shaky his story is and vouched for the power of honesty, Carrie’s final chink at Brody’s armor involves the why of  his failed attack on Walden. As she does, Danes and then Lewis ease the waterworks open. “Dana called…. She used my cell. [Nice callback.] What did she say?” “She asked me to come home. And I did,” Brody answers. “Why? Because you suddenly understood it wouldn’t bring Issa back? Because you knew how much you loved your own child? You’re sick of death? [They grab hands.]  That’s the Brody I fell in love with.”

WHAT’S THE PLAN? | Seeing her opening, Carrie goes all in seeking intel. “What is Nazir’s plan?” I don’t know. “But there is a plan?” “Yes,” he confirms, after 18 measured seconds that felt like an epic poem — and Carrie’s eyes open wide like saucers. “Who does know the plan?” Roya the reporter… and a few other people who, Carrie notes, are “all dead.” That grim pattern is not lost on Brody, who collapses on the table, holding Carrie’s hands.

Saul comes in as Carrie composes herself. They ask Brody to call his wife, to say that he’s OK and will be home tonight (presumably after a nice non-car wash shower). Brody does so and tells Jess he was “looking for some answers,” and now they are “gonna be fine.”

Brody collapses onto the holding room’s floor. Carrie comes to review his options: A public trial, prison, and a steaming pile of shame to his family, the Marines and his country. Or he helps them figure out Nazir’s new terror plan. “You don’t have the power to give me immunity,” he posits. “You better hope we do,” Carrie retorts.

We then break for an interlude with Dana, who’s on a date with her new steady Finn Walden — an “ugh” B-story that soon escalates into “WTF?” when Finn, in his endeavor to shake his Secret Service detail, mows down a pedestrian. Because he is the VP’s kid (Second Son? SSOTUS?), he freaks the frick out and insists they peel away — and they do, as other passersby tend to the wounded woman. (How is this gonna bite the bigger story on the butt, I wonder….)

Returning to that A-story….

Carrie invites Brody to use their “rekindled affair” as a cover if need be with Roya et al, and says the CIA will protect his family. When he returns home, Jessica insists on no more secrets — starting right now! “I’m working for the CIA with matters of national security,” he says, which, yeah, is true — though he left out a fewwwww details. “Are you back?” son Chris asks, as he and (an already rattled, see above) Dana drink in the mother/father portrait. “Yeah. I’m back.”

What did you think of the episode “Q&A”? Does Damian Lewis deserve an Emmy nod for his reaction shots alone? And how, how, how good was Claire Danes, again?

On a related note: We talk a lot at Emmy season about the “advantage(s)” that cable series have over the broadcast networks, and here you laid witness to one of them. That Carrie/Brody stare-down gets chopped at least once on broadcast, where you rarely can go more than 11 minutes without hitting a commercial stop. And I believe a lot of its power came from it being a continuous, evolving dialogue.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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52 Comments
  1. Tweeny says:

    Damian Lewis and Claire Danes for all the awards ever.

  2. Alichat says:

    OMG!! That 15 minute scene between Brody and Carrie just won Damian Lewis the Emmy again! My god it made my heart hurt!

    I am sooooo worried that Brody is going to warn Nazir or Roya……I just feel like he’s going to mess this deal up.

  3. Meg says:

    A thousand hollas for this episode.

  4. KND says:

    Hands down the best interrogation scene ever filmed. My heart is still racing. Claire Danes and Damien Lewis need to win ever award imaginable after that. Just when you think you’ve got this show figured out…..

  5. Was that Virgil tailing Carrie & Brodie to Brodie’s place?

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Yes.

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        I didn’t realize that was Virgil. What does THAT mean, I wonder? I hope it does not mean he is the mole.,

        • Stacie says:

          I thought it just meant that they are watching his place again. I’m pretty sure that Brodie and Carrie knew they were being followed home. It’s kind of like Season 1 do over with them watching his every move. That was my take on seeing him.

          • LizLiz says:

            Yeah I think that’s all it was. No mole or secrets just producers thinking you would understand. But just a brilliant episode. Those 15 minutes I cried & gasp as he finally admitted to it all. And I was about to walk out of the room when Dana and that kid ran over the lady.

  6. Jenny says:

    I. LOVE. THIS. SHOW. That scene was the freaking perfect!!! Claire and Damien are real pros. PERFECT, I tell you!

  7. Jennifer says:

    All i can say is that I was mesmerized. Best acting and writing on TV today…possibly ever!!

  8. Kathy says:

    GREAT writers, every episode is a heart stopper, the cast is just incredible!

  9. flo says:

    They both deserve awards and will dominate until the show ends. Premium cable does have an advantage because of the quality of shows, and actors. I think the experienced A list actors are attracted to cable shows because it allows them more freedom than they will have with a network show. And no commercials! And no censorship!

  10. Rose says:

    The most realistic portrayal of a bi-polar person ever. This show keeps you on the edge of your seat. Amazing acting

  11. TheBeast says:

    Didn’t they run over Roya? Wasn’t that her when they flashed her face?

  12. Stacie says:

    As unbelievable that scene was, what Mitovitch wrote in that last sentence is absolutley right. How can shows on the networks ever compete with that? Obviously you can be on preimum channels and still not deliever, but when someone like Claire Danes and Damien Lewis are given material like that they will deliever and tonight was a perfect example. I was thinking also during that 15-20 minutes that there would have been at least 1-2 commercials, at least a couple times they would have gone to the other story, but this show has the fortune of staying with this single scene for that long. I am so glad for this show, and so glad that I started watching this show very recently. But it’ll be very hard for any CBS, NBC, ABC, or FOX show to compete with this kind of material.

  13. Britta Unfiltered says:

    If I could bottle the chemistry Claire Danes and Damien Lewis have…I would pour it on the floor and roll around in it. Great episode! Though I do think the Ugh/WTF statement sums up the B story really well. It came out of nowhere!! (Ha, hit and run joke!) I guess I have to see where they go with it. I do wonder if he really is turned. It just seems odd it took the terrorists so many years and a lot of torture to break him, and it took the CIA just a few days and a hand stab. BTW, even though I knew they were going to do bad cop/good cop when he did the hand stab, I still think the new guy is completely insane.
    .
    I loved the 15-min. scene, but what really got me was the car scene with them and him grabbing her hand. I melted. I predict sexy fun times ahead for those two. He seemed to REALLY like the affair cover story.
    .
    I noticed a nice callback line to The Weekend in this episode. Carrie played the good cop and gave him water when he was thirsty. Remember Abu Nazir doing the same thing to help break him in the pilot flashback scene? And then he told Carrie in The Weekend about his “guard” Issa who “gave me water and was nice to me.”

    • Alichat says:

      “I do wonder if he really is turned. It just seems odd it took the terrorists so many years and a lot of torture to break him, and it took the CIA just a few days and a hand stab.”

      Well you have to remember that they have the home court advantage. Brody has been living for the last 6 months to a year in the world he knew for the majority of his life…the world he grew up in, with the family who loves him, the family he’d convinced himself didn’t need him but now he knows they do, the friends who supported him, he’s been given a job where he might be able to do some good. It took longer for Nazir to break him because they had to break all the protective walls he had built from his life in the US….all the hope, love, and patriotism. Carrie and Quinn just had to show Brody that they know what he was going to do, and then give him a door to what he really wants…..to be free. I have to think they will have him stumble on this deal…..and maybe even blow it completely, because that’s more dramatic television.

    • AM says:

      The B story here might be the reason the Vice President does not win the election. A little foreshadowing when she tells Brody in the car “Maybe he won’t be elected.” I think somehow Finn’s father finds out and conspires to cover it up and then it comes out and bye bye presidency.

  14. Saint Alicia says:

    I don’t know if I’d call that stabbing a theater indulgence. If I was under interrogation off the grid by the CIA for being a terrorist I’d fully expect them to do whatever the f-ck they wanted to me. Cal it, ahem, “enhanced interrogation tactics.”
    But damn if that episode wasn’t superb. EVERY ep is superb but Carrie and Brody in the interrogation room were just gut-wrenching. Carrie left it all on the table with that confession about wanting Brody to leave his wife/family to be with her. Go big or go home.
    Love this show.

  15. VCI says:

    i thought Cranston deserved the emmy over Lewis in this year win, because Lewis never captivated me or drew me in over an entire season unlike Cranston who could draw me in with one second. ( one of the reasons I didn’t love the first season)

    But am I glad I stuck with Homeland, season two has blown season 1 out of the water. And I fell in love with Damian Lewis this episode. I didn’t blink for those 15 minutes of intense conversation because I was afraid to miss a subtle facial tick. Best 15 minutes of tv ever witnessed. And now Lewis has my emmy vote.

    • gregk says:

      Also thought Bryan Cranston deserved the recent Emmy award, but first season of Homeland got my attention real fast and the fourth episode this year had perhaps the most remarkable twist of all time. Thought this type of scenario could only happen on Breaking Bad! Homeland will no doubt sweep again as this season (5A) of BB has dropped off a bit. Season 5B could be incredible though, so it might make the Emmy race interesting.

      • 5B won’t be eligible until the 2014 Emmys, unless they decide to air all the episodes in the spring. Still, as someone who has always rooted for Cranston to win every year, as great as he was, as he always was, in the first half of the final season, Lewis bested him with this remarkable performance. If it was this VS Crawl Space, however, I would probably be more on the fence.

  16. Ryan says:

    So what exactly is the point of having the “B-story?” This reminds me of the early seasons of 24. Jack Bauer’s daughter got into a lot of trouble that could often only be loosely tied to the main story.

  17. jb says:

    WOW, Incredible episode. I was even able to tolerate Brody’s daughter whose scenes I normally fast forward through (matter of fact I ff through the whole hit and run scene I didt see it until my 2nd watch of the episode).

    Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are both absolutely AMAZING. Every second of that interrogation scene was perfectly done.

    I still think we’re in for some huge surprises before the end of the season (Who is the mole?, What is the next attack?). Just speculation but I don’t think the Issa story line is finished either. Did Nazir have something to do with the drone strike that killed Issa knowing thats what he needed to turn Brody? Is the VP involved in that?

    Best show on TV.

  18. Brigitte says:

    Though the B story does seem a bit out there, at this point I cannot question what the writers are doing since they have created such an amazing show!

  19. Alichat says:

    Someone suggested on EW.com’s thread that the B-story may be used down the road to trigger Brody’s anger at Walden again and maybe set him back on his revenge path. I’m not sure that one incident will make him want to kill Walden again, but you never know how monkeyed things can get over the next few eps.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Oof, that would be a stretch. No, you only present a hit-and-run like that in the name of setting up blackmail, having someone one eventually gain leverage on the kids/their parents.

      • Alichat says:

        Right, that’s why I said it might flare up his anger for Walden, but I don’t see him strapping on a vest again because of it. I mean they could take it to extremes and have things just get more messed up……dumb decisions on top of other dumb decisions….but then you get into soap opera territory which isn’t Homeland. So I think you’re right about blackmail and leverage.

    • Ryan says:

      If something happened to his daughter as a result of Walden, then I could see him wanting revenge. However, it’s taking up too much screen time for a payoff multiple episodes from now. It may be important in the future, but I’m not sure how it could be worth the semi-boring parts we’ve seen so far.

  20. Dee says:

    I was glued to the TV. Unable to take my eyes off for even a second but what amazing actors!! From Claire Danes to Damien Lewis to Rupert Friend and that voice of reason .. Mandy Patinkin. Wow. And OMG — Will Carrie get sucked in a 2nd time around? OMG! The previews. Oh but PS: Did any else notice the British accents coming out with the word ‘intelligence’ by Peter Quinn and David Estes in different scenes? Ha! :)

  21. Polly says:

    wow!
    just…wow!
    that is all that needs to be said about this episode

  22. Swift says:

    What’s with all the awards talk? At the moment I would give the Lead Actor Statue to Lewis but we still have until May for any one of many actors to give a more worthy performance. Even though it is doubtful it could happen.

    I don’t think Danes will win this year nor does she deserve to at this point but there are 7 episodes left so that could change. Glenn Close should win for the Damages Finale. This could change, but like with Lewis it is highly unlikely to. Danes or someone else would have to pull a rabbit out of there hat.

    • snm says:

      What? Claire Danes is a shoe in for the Golden Globes and she already won the Emmy this year….She is providing mesmerizing Oscar caliber work.

  23. Brian says:

    “Homeland” may be a television series, but Claire Danes deserves a freaking Oscar!

  24. Alienate says:

    I could watch Claire Danes SLEEP for 8 hours, and still be mesmerized by every twitch her face makes.
    Truly the best show on TV.

  25. Chuck Finley (AJ) says:

    I think the B story has to do with Nazir’s “Plan”. The plan is killing Walden’s son in retaliation, and maybe Brodie’s daughter get’s caught in the plot and kidnapped or killed.

  26. James says:

    Wow. as phenomenal as Claire Daines was, Damien Lewis completly stole that scene. the emotion he was able to convey, the confliction he had about who he was and wanted to be with out even talking was some of the best acting on television i’ve seen in a very long time. i was surprised they went this route so fast, and i was worried last week that they were going to potray him as a nutbag terrorist which i’m so glad they didn’t because he is without a doubt my favorite character. despite my objection with his means i totally understand him, and find him to be extremely simpathetic. I hope they continue down that road and we see him reedeem himself.

  27. mary says:

    what does that mean — SSOTUS? second son of the united states?

  28. Tina says:

    That episode was brilliant. I don’t care if it makes me an obsessive fan–I have watched that scene 3 times. Whether or not people believe Claire and Damian deserved to win their Emmys this year (and I think they did), they certainly earned EVERY bit of them Sunday night! I hope that is the episode submitted for next year. Absolutely. Briliiant!

  29. Collette mcnaught says:

    Best drama I have EVER seen on tv!!! Acting is amazing writers are amazing to scared to walk out the room incase miss something, love it!!!!! I

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