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.)
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.
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.