This post contains spoilers through the Oct. 16 episode of Homeland.
I’ve been incredibly impressed thus far with the way the show has handled Brody’s reintegration into his family, particularly the rivalry between Jessica and Dana for his affections. There’s a genuine discomfort to the fact that Nicholas will laugh with his daughter behind a closed door but won’t let his wife touch him while he’s masturbating to her, that Nicholas is able to be more patient with Dana than Jessica is. “She’s obviously got a secret life out there,” Jessica says, worried, only to have Nicholas laugh it off, saying “She’s sixteen…Didn’t you have a secret life when you were that age?” “Yeah, with you! That was different,” Jessica tells him, but it’s not, not really. Similarly, Dana takes Jessica’s relationship with Mike as a kind of visceral betrayal: her mother is cheating on not just Nicholas, but on her, exposing her to the evidence that she has an undomestic sexuality.
And it’s Nicholas who reins Dana in, implying to her that they can have their own secrets, that she is perhaps more relevant than her mother to his endurance. “You know when I went over to Afghanistan, you were in third grade…That’s what I took over with me. You were in a play that year, the Wackadoo Zoo. You were so good,” he tells her. “Honey, it’s practically all I thought about for eight years. It kept me alive. But now I’m back, and all those things that kept me going, they’re gone.” I’m trying to decide if there’s something genuinely queasy there, or if it’s just the dichotomy between a man who can get his teenage daughter to be good for Lawrence O’Donnell and the man who sees himself powerfully distant from his family in the mirror.
Speaking of Lawrence O’Donnell, I thought there was something pretty game about his agreement to be a pleasant dupe in this episode. “I was told Lawrence O’Donnell gives everyone a hard time except guys in uniform,” Nicholas tells his family, explaining why he’s not afraid of the interview. And true to this expectation, O’Donnell serves up softballs disguised as emotionally difficult questions. “What did they want?” he asks Brody about why he was tortured. “They want you to lose faith,” Brody tells him, swinging incredibly hard at the soft toss. “To lose faith in your country, which they say is the devil. In your brother marines who they say aren’t coming for you because you have no military value. In your wife, who they say has got your arms wrapped around someone else.”
Carrie’s also getting some tough love and tender treatment from the men in her life, namely Saul and Virgil, who is rapidly becoming my favorite character on the show. Carrie’s prickly about the fact that the CIA isn’t protecting Lynn, telling one of her colleagues who describes her as a hooker that “If by hooker, you mean someone who’s off risking her life while we’re sitting around a conference table.” But she’s not doing well in meetings, reacting badly to Saul who wants to know “You think that when I ask you the same exact question I’d ask anyone else, I’m giving you a hard time?” He’s angry at her for treating him like all the other people they work with, but also for sexualizing their relationship. I really want to know more about Carrie’s backstory in the department. And after she asks Lynn to take a risk, it turns up nothing. She snaps at Virgil, who, after suffering through the yogurt in her fridge, decides to make them both a real meal, saying “There’s some spaghetti in the closet. It’s only 10 years past its expiration date. I’m sure it won’t kill us.”
But they never get to dinner. Lynn’s death didn’t strike me as particularly surprising, and I would have liked to see her fleshed out a little bit more so her murder hit harder. But I do appreciate that it opened up another thread of the mystery, a case where we know slightly more than than Carrie and Saul but where we have absolutely no idea how they’re going to get there. It’s a perfect example of why spoilers don’t matter: the journey, rather than the destination, is what’s going to be tremendously exciting.