Claire Danes and Damien Lewis star in Homeland which is reflective and ambivalent, conscious of the blowback that can result from ill-considered overseas intervention, bringing home the anger and resentment bred by US foreign policy. Disillusionment is the key theme.
Carrie Mathison suspects returning prisoner of war Sergeant Nicholas Brody may have been turned by al-Qaida during his eight years’ incarceration. War hero or plotting the next 9/11?
Episode 1 – Spoiler alert
The episode began in Baghdad with Carrie Mathison begging unsuccessfully to save Ibrahim and immediately she paid a lot of money to speak momentarily with Ibrahim in prison using the carrot of saving his family even if she couldn’t save him. He tells her that an American prisoner of war has been turned by Abu Nazir. The scene switched to 10 months later in Washington DC where Carrie watches a tape of Brody being discovered and recalls that conversation. Much was made of Brody’s physical transformation from bearded prisoner to clean cut American and he demanded to talk to his wife before he is debriefed. His wife Jessica took his call just after having sex with her new partner and is far from okay with the news of his return. There was a badly timed ad break just when she was about to tell her lying drug taking daughter and her son about the “good news”.
Brody looked shocked on his plane ride home. His wife practised her smiles in the mirror and the children talked about whether they remembered him or not. While the family left their home to go to the base Carrie and her cut price bare bones operatives installed eyes and ears in every room of the house. Brody threw up when he landed which was attributed to being stuck down a hole for 8 years. An awkward family reunion segued into a meeting with the Vice President and a media scrummage against the all-hail-American-hero welcome. Jessica had chosen a red dress knowing full well it made her look very desirable. Brody’s speech about being a lucky man to have such a loyal, strong family to come home to of course rings false to the audience.
Brody flinched when touched by Jessica even although it was clear he still found her attractive. His body was scared all over from his years of torture. When he does eventually have sex with her it is angry and quick and Jessica couldn’t bear to look at him afterwards. Carrie watched the whole thing on her CCTV although she seemed much more interested in the silent phone call that came in just before the couple got down to business as usual. Jessica later told Mike, her new partner, that she is going to stay with her husband. Brody watched the conversation from the garden while burning his fingers on the BBQ. Brody was already being mentioned in bar conversations as a possible future congressman. Later we saw the whole torture beating of Walker and it was apparent that Brody had been the one doing the beating to death of his fellow American.
Carrie promised to behave in return for an opportunity to ask Brody some questions at the debriefing. She was of course running at the last minute and popping pills as she ran out of her front door. Carrie’s killer question was why had he survived for 8 years when Sergeant Walker who had been captured at the same time had died fairly quickly. She didn’t manage to break his story that he had never been questioned by Abu Nazir even although a brief torture flashback implies that he had been. Brody lied to his wife and Carrie assumed he was about to make contact with his extremist handler. It all looked pretty suspicious – park bench conversation – but it turned out to be Sergeant Walker’s widow who wanted to know how her husband had died. Brody lied that he hadn’t seen her husband die. It turned out that the pills Carrie popped earlier were anti-psychotic drugs due to her guilt at missing something 10 years previously – referencing 9/11. Again a bad ad cut spoiled the action of her struggling with getting dressed to go out after popping another pill but various scenes pointed to Carrie being out of control both at work and in her relationships with men. Carrie eventually remembered that Brody’s fingers had moved in a rhythmic sequence whenever he was on camera and that he was probably making contact. Jazz hands indeed.
The final shot was of Brody smiling as he sees the Whitehouse.