Tuned In

Homeland Watch: Trust No One

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Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

SPOILER ALERT: Before you read this post, move away from any loud water fountains and watch last night’s Homeland.
“A lot of things about this arrangement are far from ideal.”

Having upending its scenario in a hell-bent first five episodes, with “A Gettysburg Address” it feels as if Homeland is bridging from there to the latter half of the season’s arc. (It’s a measure of just how breathtaking the beginning of this season was that an episode that featured a military-style assault on Federal investigators felt like a “breather.”) And the overarching theme of the episode was that, while there may be a new balance of power among the characters, it’s an uneasy one, and one that may not involve enough trust to work.

The most obvious center of mistrust is between the CIA and Brody, as Carrie and company realize that they have entered into an arrangement based largely on faith that Brody has not yet validated. He’s agreed to work with the Feds–as far as we can see, so far fairly faithfully but not unreservedly. What information or bona fides has he really given them so far, in exchange for his freedom?

Instead, they’ve set up a situation that requires giving Brody a kind of trust that, it’s immediately apparent, is not there. He withholds in little ways, like revealing only later what he knows about the tailor in Gettysburg (and even then, lying about having killed the man). When he meets with Roya, he tells Carrie—as far as we can see—everything he knows of the situation. But she can’t quite believe him after all this, particularly after the surprise assault.

Yet—though they could put him away for treason at will—faced with the possibility of a terrorist strike, they can do little more than yell at him: “The deal was full fucking disclosure!” Guinn says. “Not pick and choose what you say!” Carrie confronts Brody in a feeling of full-on, ugly-crying, personal betrayal—and yet the tone is as much frustration with the situation as rage. The agency holds the cards here, and yet they don’t feel like the powerful ones in this dynamic.

The air of suspicion among allies extends to the episode’s subplots. Mike and Lauder’s suspicions about Brody and Tom Walker still seem to be coming together a little quickly and perfectly. But they could probably not get better encouragement in their suspicions than Estes’ and Saul’s high-handed demand that Mike back off: “You’re being told by fellow intelligence officers–respectfully at this point–not to pursue your unauthorized freelance investigation into a matter of national security. Nod your head if you understand.” (I love that “respectfully at this point.”)

Finally, a similar theme of mistrust arises in the Dana-and-Finn hit-and-run subplot, which seems to be spinning slowly and surely toward Brody and Vice President Walden. Hearing that the woman he mowed down is not going to be fine after all, Finn goes into self-protective mode.

That’s hardly surprising, given what we’ve seen of him. What’s intriguing is that he apparently honestly can’t fathom why Dana would react any differently: when Dana says, “She needs our help,” he answers reflexively, “I need our help… If you say anything about this, I’m dead. I mean it.”

To him, that’s answer enough; you protect yourself, and truth and trust are irrelevant. He truly is a child of Washington.

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