Mon
Nov 12 2012 12:45pm

Homeland: Episode 2.07, “The Clearing”

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes

Maybe it’s because I watched the Saturday Night Live skit, but this week’s Homeland felt off to me. It felt like a filler episode, which is surprising since it was written by one of the show’s heaviest hitters, Meredith Stiehm. But I’m not sure much of anything that transpired last night moved things forward.

We start the episode with a very uncharacteristically nervous-looking Roya confronting Brody on a run to let him know something “big” will be going down soon. He freaks on her and demands some answers, wanting to know what the heck happened in Gettysburg, which answers the question fairly definitively that he didn’t know about it or tip her off in any way. She basically just tells him to sit tight, and to keep Walden very happy.

Carrie visits Quinn in the hospital, where we learn the important news that poor sweet Danny is alive! Though…probably not for long. And we see Rupert Friend’s ass. (Literally, this is all that happened in this scene.)

JessicaMeanwhile, the Brody clan and the Walden clan are off for a fun-filled political fundraiser weekend at a country estate. Dana and Finn ride down together with her pressuring him to come clean about the hit-and-run. He promises he will…at some point. In their own limo, Jess makes small talk about the other candidates (one of whom is a woman) for VP, before Brody questions her about Mike’s visit. She confesses that he told her Brody killed Tom Walker and she wants to know if it’s true or not, saying she can live with it if it is, but just needs to know. Brody resists the urge to yell, Jack Nicholson-style, that she can’t handle the truth and says he was sent by the CIA to talk Walker down but things got messy. Jessica’s kind of horrified but holds it together.

When they reach the estate, Brody stays behind to call Carrie and tell her that Mike’s asking a lot of questions. She says she’ll handle it, but Brody flips out, saying they haven’t handled much so far and complaining that he’s being left in the dark. A bit entitled for a terrorist whom the CIA is cutting a deal, eh? He hangs up on her when he notes David Estes coming up the drive, and bristles at his “chaperone for the weekend.” Carrie is busy woobifying him, fretting to Quinn that poor Brody feels out of control because he has no power. Quinn says after she’s done with Mike, she better go see their double agent and “empower him.” So that’s what the kids are calling it these days.

At Mike’s office, Carrie spells it out point blank for him: “Cease and fucking desist” with the boy detective shit. (Carrie is so badass when she is firing on all her professional cylinders.) She tells him—undoubtedly breaching clearance to do so—that there’s a terrorist event going down soon and Nick Brody is key to foiling it. That gives him pause, then she double punches him with Jessica, saying she knows he’s in love with her and the best way to help her is to back off and just wait to be supportive. Carrie rather ominously adds that someday soon Jess and the kids are gonna need him. The convo’s pretty on-the-nose with its parallels to her own feelings for Brody, with Carrie commiserating that she knows what it’s like to want someone you can’t have. I kept waiting for Mike to ask what was up with her and Brody, but…his two brain cells were already pretty busy I guess.

Back at the Rich Guy Manor, poor Brody is being subjected to the most uncomfortable party conversation ever, as some uncouth woman wants to know what happened to him in captivity besides having all his bones broken and if he ever wanted to kill himself. To his credit, Brody handles it like…a politician. The benefactor of the weekend notices and gives Brody approving eyes, then calls him into the stables to tell him he’s not that into Walden but is totally Team Brody, thanks to their shared experience as veterans. He particularly admires that they’ve both seen a lot of things go down, but managed not to “lose themselves” over there. Ah, the irony. 

Damian Lewis in HomelandAs a conflicted Brody starts to brood, Carrie calls and tells him to meet her in a clearing in the woods. Their meeting starts out business as usual. She tells him she talked to Mike and he’ll drop it now. Brody confides in her that the guy who owns this place thinks he’s all upstanding. She clasps his hand while reassuring him and boom! Their electric chemistry fires right up. He backs away for a second but then comes closer and they start making out passionately, devouring each other. The shipper in me squees, but then Brody stops kissing to ask her “Are you handling me?” Tragically, Carrie admits that she doesn’t know but says “I don’t want you to feel manipulated.” They keep kissing as Brody confesses he does feel used and played and lied to. He pauses but a second before he adds, with a rare grin, “But I feel gooooood.” Carrie grins back and they start kissing once more but then Brody starts to ruminate. “Two minutes with you and I feel good. How do you pull that off?” Then he backs away, confused and maybe horrified by how easy it feels with Carrie.

Ok, so…like I said, shipper me is all wheeeeeee! But…this whole thing feels a bit unearned and disingenuous. I guess he’s talking about the very moment of kissing her, but it’s been quite a while (since The Weekend probably) since Brody legitimately must have felt good in her presence. Every conversation they’ve had this season has been wary, intense, draining and full of angst. So while I like the sentiment and what it stands for as far as their connection and the way they relate to one another, I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit unearned coming this quickly. I expected a more gradual reconnection between the two as they learned to work together and trust each other, and this impromptu makeout session doesn’t completely lack credulity, if you buy into the idea that they have a can’t-keep-our-hands-off-each-other chemistry, but it still feels very abrupt and not well set up.

Back at the house, Dana and Finn argue about when they’ll spill the beans, and the moms overhear and come over.  As Finn tries to shrug them off, Dana blurts out “We Killed Someone.” The moms shepherd them inside and hear the whole story from Dana while Finn studies the carpet. They dismiss the kids and Walden tells Jessica who is talking of lawyers and police reports that they are on the world stage and need to handle this a certain way. When a horrified Jessica pushes back, Cindy Walden firmly insists Jessica follow her lead. She refuses to comply, saying she has to speak to Brody.

The man in question is back at the pool, now deserted in the dark of night. He strips down and takes a swim, losing himself in the depths of the water. It’s a lovely scene, aesthetically speaking, well lit and well shot, but it feels like a cut scene from an indie arthouse movie and a bit out of place here. Not sure what exactly it was supposed to signify. For once, Brody is weightless, without all the people tugging him in all different directions, perhaps? After his swim, Jessica comes to find him and tell him about Dana, asking if they’d go to the police and not just sweep it under the rug.

Shortly after, Brody rejoins the fundraising crowd and gets the benefactor’s glowing praise for his character as well as the man’s tacit endorsement of Walden/Brody. He uncomfortably listens, then pulls Walden aside to talk about Dana and Finn. The VP tells him basically what his wife told Jess: it’ll be handled. He confesses that he talked about it to David Estes, who will intervene with Metro police. Brody is horrified.

The next morning, he goes to Dana and says let’s go to the police and he hugs her, which is what the poor girl’s been needing for several episodes now. “I’m so relieved,” she breathes. They leave and David Estes freaks out that Brody may be blowing the whole thing open. He tells Carrie to meet him at the police station and talk him down. So she does, warning an angry Brody that if he goes in there—his deal’s off. An angry, confused Dana comes over wanting to know why Carrie is there, and a very conflicted Brody tells her they can’t confess now but they will later. She calls bullshit—her fave word—and says she knows what this is about. Carrie’s stopping him because of the election, the campaign. He can’t deny it and she takes off running. Carrie apologizes but it falls on deaf ears as Brody goes after his daughter.

In a totally separate storyline—Saul, in an effort to find out the identity of the mystery man who met Roya and led the terrorist attack on the tailor’s shop last weekend, goes to see Aileen (road trip Aileen from last season!) in jail. She’s in solitary 23 hours a day, and has one demand in exchange for helping: she wants a window. Saul has to go over the stubborn warden’s head to get it done, and in the meantime he bonds with Aileen again, even smuggling in wine and cheese, and discussing his wife. Saul’s word is as good as law of course, and he gets the permission from the Attorney General, in writing, for her to have a window. She fesses up a name and a location (Newark, New Jersey) and Saul leaves to let Peter know, insisting the guard keep her there until he comes back. But when Peter and his team descend on the locale, it’s not the guy in the picture. Turns out he used to be head of security for Aileen’s family in Saudi Arabia, but he’s just a very surprised and confused musician “like the Coldplay.” Saul hears this info and tries to puzzle out why she’d give them false info that she knew they’d realize as soon as they saw the guy—and then he freezes and runs back to cell, crying her name and banging on the door in a surprisingly un-Saul-like fashion.

Alas, Aileen is already bleeding out on the floor, having used reading glasses Saul gave her to slit her…neck I guess? He rushes in to cradle her head and she thanks him and says she’s glad she spent her last day in the sunlight with him. Saul is completely and utterly distraught. You think Carrie crying is bad? Saul will kill you. When he gets back to headquarters and talks with Quinn however, Saul laments that he got sloppy and let emotion get in the way. For once, Quinn is empathetic, saying it happens to everyone and “sometimes they just get under your skin.” If that ain’t the motto of the series, I’m not sure what is. Saul’s having none of it though as he determinedly moves Aileen’s picture to the dead side of the big corkboard. And we fade into the credits as I laugh some more at SNL’s Bill Hader saying “She loves her corkboard” in his best Saul Berenson voice.
 


Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.

Read all Tara Gelsomino’s posts for Criminal Element.

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2 comments
1. T.L. Costa
It's funny, because I sort of felt the same way about this episode, but part of the problem is that I think that they've set the bar so high that it's hard to up the tension in each episode. Also, I feel sort of torn, on one hand, I really want Mike and Jessica to work, but not so sure about Brody and Carrie now that Brody has started his downward spiral from terrorist to psychologically more-imabalanced terrorist.

Guess we'll have to wait for next week to see what they were setting up...
Saundra Peck
2. sk1336
I find every episode is awesome...there is so much detail, so many moving parts. It combines real life family drama with the security threat of the entire world! It is amazing that in real life, these people do not ALL end up in mental hospitals! It is no wonder that few have happy families or marriages. I hate it when the hour is up!
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