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'Homeland' Recap, Still With Brody-o-Meter: Episode 6, 'The Good Soldier'

by Michael Hogan, posted Nov 6th 2011 11:00PM
Homeland Episode 6 RecapWho's playing whom? That is the question posed by 'The Good Soldier,' the sixth and possibly best yet episode of Showtime's domestic-espionage drama 'Homeland.' As the hour ended, the audience was left pondering two possible scenarios. The first is that Carrie (Claire Danes) is an Agency Black Widow, spinning a psychosexual web to entrap her pray, the unwitting Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). The second is that Brody is the one stitching the net, and that Carrie -- willful, impetuous, hot-headed Carrie -- is the one in danger of being eaten alive. Let's examine both in tonight's 'Homeland' recap, shall we?

On the one hand, you can view the episode this way: Having decided that her mission in life is to protect people from bad guys, Carrie un-empties her desk and starts looking for a way to prove her case against Brody, whom she is now convinced is a terrorist, based on her conviction that he passed Afsal Hamid the razor blade that allowed the detained terrorist to commit suicide and claim his allotted 72 virgins in Heaven. To that end, she suggests polygraphing all 11 of the people who had direct contact with Hamid, just in case, oh, any of them might not be able to correctly answer the question "Did you pass a razor blade to Afsal Hamid." Even Saul supports the plan, which will be important later.

Where can she find Brody to tell him about the polygraph? Why, Tom Walker's memorial service, of course, where the Marine is doing his level best to deliver a moving eulogy despite the fact that, as we know from flashbacks, he beat the poor guy to death -- under duress, we can only assume -- and buried his body. Brody chooses a rather unorthodox format, yelling out a roll call of the Marines in attendance and repeating Walker's name, Bueller style, until the widow breaks down and cries, but hey -- at least he didn't stand there and spout a bunch of platitudes.

After the service, Carrie buttonholes him and tells him about the polygraph, though she won't say what it's about. That's classified. He says he can't do it today -- post-memorial party at my house, dude -- but promises to go tomorrow at 10. Back at his house, the Marines are rapping, oddly enough, while Brody sits there looking miserable. Finally, they stop and raise a toast to Walker, and then someone asks Brody what happened out there anyway. He gives his official story -- "we were taking fire from all sides, we ate dirt and prayed" -- when an ex-Marine on crutches named Lauder calls bullshit. He hates the way Brody has turned himself into a recruitment tool for two bogus wars and demands to know why Brody came back and Walker didn't. Brody says it came down to luck, which may be true, in a sense. Who knows what might have happened if the Taliban had told Walker to kill Brody?

Lauder's drunken quest for transparency then finds a new target: "Uncle" Mike. Who starts throwing punches when Lauder says that everyone wanted to move in on Brody's wife, but only one guy did. Brody pulls Mike off, and then starts beating him in the face. "You were my friend," he says. Having wrecked yet another back yard function, he gets in his car and drives off.

It's not long before Carrie's phone rings: "It's me, Brody." He says he can't take the polygraph tomorrow: "I'm a mess. I could tell them my name and it would sound like a lie." She high-tails it to the bar, presumably eager to extract some kind of drunken confession from him. He's drunk all right, but she does all the talking. She says no one -- not even the boys -- could beat her in the games of chicken she played as a child on the train tracks. And she tells Brody that the polygraph has to do with Afsal Hamid -- he committed suicide, somebody slipped him a razor. And then Brody, a man who has so far proven incapable of making love to his ridiculously beautiful wife, takes Carrie right across the finish line in the back of the car. To be honest, they both look like they're having a pretty good time.

Have we mentioned that Saul failed the lie-detector test the first time through, after trying to wriggle out of it? He'll eventually pass it, but that may not prove anything, as we'll discover soon enough. Brody arrives as scheduled for his test after all and ... he aces it. Answers every question without setting off the slightest quiver on the machine's meter. Did he pass Hamid the razor blade? "No." Survey says: Telling the truth. "Ask him again!" Carrie demands from the booth. Same result. Finally, she has a brainwave: "Ask him if he's been faithful to his wife." "Yes." The machine is satisfied. So now Carrie knows that Brody can beat a polygraph. But what else do we know?

Carrie seems to be operating on a faulty assumption: that if she gets close enough to Brody, he'll tell her what he's up to. But if Brody is what she thinks he is, there's no way he'll do that. He knows she's in the C.I.A. He knows she's a terrorist hunter. So all she's doing by pursuing the relationship is playing chicken with the C.I.A.'s anti-terrorism program. Can she win this time too?

Let's examine an alternate scenario to the one spelled out above. Let's suppose that Brody killed Walker because he hates Americans. He will have to feign sorrow at the memorial, but that's no great feat: Marines don't really show emotion. Apart from that, the event is an opportunity to burnish his cover story and, if he gets lucky, collect some useful information. From the moment Carrie tells Brody he has to take a polygraph, he has one mission: to find out what question he's going to have to answer so he can get ready and beat the machine. This is a man, let's remember, who survived eight years of interrogations by the Taliban. With a little preparation, he could make an interrogator believe the sky is neon green. So now he has one mission at the post-service party: finding an excuse to leave, so he can call Carrie and get her to meet him. Which isn't too hard: Any time Mike is around, he has a pretext to get in a fist fight. Only after Carrie offers up the necessary information does he have sex with her. And yes, that gives her a tool to prove that he's beating the machine, but so what? The only person she's proving it to is herself. She has no actionable intelligence. Meanwhile, it's entirely possible to imagine Brody seducing Carrie, really getting her to fall for him -- she's alone, she's unstable, she's a slave in some ways to her emotions. Brody, on the other hand, is a trained killer. He's a man with a mission.

I'm not saying this is the right explanation, only that it makes Carrie's actions even more indefensibly reckless than they otherwise might seem to be. If Brody is a terrorist, she's risking her life and more to get close to him for dubious returns, and if he isn't, she's wasting her time. Lose-lose.

There is, of course, another possibility: that some third party is pulling the strings. I'm grateful to the commenters who pointed out last week (a) that Saul needs to be looked at carefully, and (b) that he was chanting the Hebrew prayer of death last week. So maybe he did pass on that razor blade. Why? I can't figure it out, but maybe the commenters will come to the rescue again.

This week's Brody-o-Meter score: 50



Random observations:

Poor Faisal. We were just getting to like him when he was blown away -- presumably by fellow terrorists worried that he would indeed turn himself in. Also: how relieved must the show's producers be now that they've been able to reveal that Faisal was taking orders from his white girlfriend. Any chance that will appease those who say the show trafficks in anti-Arab stereotypes?

Nudity Watch: I haven't been keeping a scientific record, but I do believe this is the first episode with no nudity. Still, Morena Baccarin does strip down to her skivvies before Tom Walker's memorial service. Is that supposed to make us feel as guilty as Brody does?

Graphic by Catarina Ferreira.

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johnnymaher

Genya1221 has nailed it perfectly. One can definitely see Estes leaving something on the table in the video that Carrie replays again and again. The anxiety elevation that Estes brings unto himself during the polygraph is a smart way to compromise the question about the razor.

November 18 2011 at 1:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doth Raki

Sorry for the double post. Got a message that I wasn't logged in but it apparently had already posted. If there is a moderator, feel free to delete the double post and this one.

November 09 2011 at 6:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doth Raki

Saul saying the prayer could be a red herring. Maybe Saul ALWAYS says the prayer when he learns that someone dies. I'm not Jewish but am religious and I generally only say a prayer or words of remembrance when someone I care about dies. Saul was alone (meaning he didn't have to worry about what people thought of his actions one way or the other so one would assume his true self was showing) and if you're ever going to take a pass on mourning the dead, you'd think a CIA agent devoted to fighting terrorists might skip saying the prayer of the dead upon learning that a murderous terrorist had killed himself. (Saul's mournful reaction is in sharp contrast to Carrie going ballistic to learn that this had happened.) So maybe Saul is in cahoots with the terrorists, maybe Saul is the one who passed Hamid the blade, or maybe Saul just always says a prayer upon learning that someone dies, no matter who or what that someone is.

We're clearly being given some clues that maybe something is up with Saul, but as mentioned it could just be a red herring to distract us from Estes or Carrie or someone else. Saul has some things going on in his personal life that could affect his behavior without him being a mole.

November 09 2011 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doth Raki

Saul saying the prayer could be a red herring. Maybe Saul ALWAYS says the prayer when he learns that someone dies. I'm not Jewish but am religious and I generally only say a prayer or words of remembrance when someone I care about dies. Saul was alone (meaning he didn't have to worry about what people thought of his actions one way or the other so one would assume his true self was showing) and if you're ever going to take a pass on mourning the dead, you'd think a CIA agent devoted to fighting terrorists might skip saying the prayer of the dead upon learning that a murderous terrorist had killed himself. (Saul's mournful reaction is in sharp contrast to Carrie going ballistic to learn that this had happened.) So maybe Saul is in cahoots with the terrorists, maybe Saul is the one who passed Hamid the blade, or maybe Saul just always says a prayer upon learning that someone dies, no matter who or what that someone is.

We're clearly being given some clues that maybe something is up with Saul, but as mentioned it could just be a red herring to distract us from Estes or Carrie or someone else. Saul has some things going on in his personal life that could affect his behavior without him being a mole.

November 09 2011 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kara

Saul saying "the prayer of the dead" can also be interpreted as the Mourner's Kaddish - a prayer that Jews say when someone dies. Depending on how it is sung is what version it is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaddish

November 09 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Genya1221

There's another possibility. Estes was in the room with Brody and Hamid. He appeared to put something small on the table while Brody and Hamid were on the floor, but everyone's attention when viewing the footage is naturally on the fight, not on Estes. So my candidate for the mole is Estes, who was furious with Carrie when she suggested the polygraphs and then behaved during his in a manner designed to invalidate his responses ad had done his best to make her new partner doubt her the previous week. I say we have no reason at this point to say Brody has been turned, and Carrie's focus is too narrow in blotting out any evidence other than that which she believes will lead to support her belief. Saul is a red herring. And as for Brody's conversion to Islam, it is quite understandable, given his long captivity and the need for some spiritual outlet.) So at this point, neither of your two theories appeals to me. I want to see more, which I am convinced will lead to a third choice.

November 09 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doth Raki

Michael, I like the scenario you laid out re Brody. I have a few things to add. 1) In the flashbacks showing Brody beating Walker, there is a gun being held to Brody's head. I don't think we were shown the gun in prior flashbacks. So maybe Brody wanted to kill Walker but needed some persuasion to finish the job, or maybe he didn't want to do it at all. Maybe the only conversion Brody had was religious. Maybe. 2) Brody wasn't just beating a lie detector test - he was letting Carrie know that he can beat a lie detector test. He could have answered "yes" to the adultery question and it doesn't seem that this would have raised any red flags with the CIA. People cheat. Soldiers cheat. It happens. So he wanted to make a point to Carrie that he can beat the test and call his other answers into question in her mind. 3) Maybe Estes is the Mole. When Carrie is running the Brody/Hamid video back and forth, it shows Estes moving his hand from his pocket to the table and back a couple of times during the fight. Maybe he is leaving the razor blade. (Not sure why Carrie didn't notice this.) Estes also seemed to be working hard to make himself agitated during the lie detector test - possibly to bring the results into question if he fails the key question.4) Morena looked so much better with the longer hair. With the short hair, I keep hearing her say "We are of peace, always." 5) Maybe Brody and Carrie are in love and will buy a cute little house together - RIGHT BY THE AIRPORT.

November 08 2011 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean

YES!!!!! I have arrived - I was mentioned in the recap (I guess I should cjange my name to A) :)

I think this show is getting better and better. We are given little hints that others (Saul, possibly even Carrie) may be involved in terrorist activities. Saul is hiding something ..... and how do we know the prisoner in the pilot episode said what he supposedly said .... ONLY on Carrie's say so???

In the highlights for next week, we seem to be getting a sketch of the prisoner that was "turned" - I wonder what that sketch will look like? Do we know of any other prisoners? This is fast becoming my must-see show!!

November 07 2011 at 2:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
michaelhoganny

Yes, Nicole D., that was suggestive, wasn't it? My wife thought they were off to another romantic assignation. My gut told me they were going to put business before pleasure, but what does Brody want to talk about? Maybe he wants to offer some kind of explanation for his polygraph performance. The question, as always, is: can he be believed?

November 07 2011 at 9:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nicole D.

What was with Carrie going into the car with Brody? The body language between those two at the end made me think SHE was involved in the terrorist conspiracy. Guess the show is making even its viewers paranoid in our stringent search to figure out who is guilty, and if so, what the charges are and what is the moral price they must pay, etc.

November 07 2011 at 2:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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