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'Homeland' Recap, Episode 11: 'The Vest' Brings Brody One Step Closer to Revenge (VIDEO)

by Michael Hogan, posted Dec 11th 2011 11:00PM
It's not easy being Carrie Mathison, that's for sure.

In this tense, suspenseful episode of 'Homeland,' we finally learn the truth about her mystery ailment: she's bi-polar, and has been since college. Deprived of her medication following the attack on the square, which sent her to the hospital with a concussion and some nasty facial abrasions, she cascades into full-scale mania, berating the staff of the hospital over its inadequate supply of magic markers (my favorite line of the episode: "Is green elusive? I mean, my kingdom for a fucking green pen!") and giving Saul an awful scare. When he questions her, Carrie admits that her sister is medicating her, and Saul and Maggie Mathison are soon splitting up chaperone duties like a pair of amiable ex-spouses, since it's obvious that Carrie can't be left alone while she's in this condition.

Alarmed as he is by Carrie's predicament, Saul does not make the mistake of discounting what she has to say. Right away, he sees the wisdom in her frantic declaration that Nazir would never pin all of his hopes on a single sniper, even one whose target is the president himself. Saul relays the warning to Estes, who mentions it to Vice President Walden, who is waiting out the scare in an undisclosed underground bunker. Walden swats away this unhelpful suggestion -- "You want your portrait up at Langley some day? Focus on that. Find Walker. And fire somebody. I don't care who." -- and also discloses a vital piece of information: he's running for president, and plans to announce his candidacy next week.

Suddenly, it's all starting to come together, isn't it? I haven't yet mentioned the episode's haunting opener, in which a man wearing glasses methodically assembles a suicide vest. As we'll soon find out, the vest is intended for Brody, whose family trip to Gettysburg, PA, serves not one but two secret purposes: to instill some patriotic gusto into his sheltered, self-indulgent kids, so they won't be completely useless after the shit hits the fan, and to pick up the vest, try it on for size and get a quick rundown on how it works. For some reason, he wants to make extra sure that his head will be severed clean off his body, allowing the clean-up crew to make a positive ID. I guess he really wants to world to know that he's no hero.

Unfortunately for Brody, Dana spots him conveying the suspicious-looking paper-wrapped package (seriously, they couldn't have spared a plastic bag for this thing?) back to the car, and doesn't really buy his story that it's a gift for dear old Mom. She also isn't quite sure what to make of the home video footage she shot that shows Brody standing stock still, staring at Little Round Top, for approximately 45 minutes. Brody tells the kids all about the battle, which the Union side won thanks to the astounding audacity of Maine schoolteacher Joshua Chamberlain, who led his woefully outnumbered troops in a so-crazy-it-worked bayonet charge against the attacking Rebel Army.

Brody clearly identifies with Chamberlain, so again, it's necessary to ask: What's he cooking? Clearly, his plan involves strapping the suicide vest on under his uniform and attending the vice president's campaign announcement. But is that it? He pulls the cord, blows himself and the VP to smithereens, along with anyone else who happens to be nearby (he told Dana to look after Jess, so presumably he's not planning to take them with him)? And then the authorities find his head, leaving the media to conclude that it must be really bad over there in Iraq if our own guys are turning into freaking suicide bombers? Meanwhile, Tom Walker knocks the president out of the sky, and then what? Is someone booby-trapping the Speaker of the House's Audi?

Surely, that can't be what Brody's after here, can it? Or is there something in his admiration of Chamberlain's unexpected action that we can learn from? Is he planning to hurt Nazir, and embarrass the vice president, using tactics that no one would ever expect from a U.S. Marine (leaving aside the fact that Tom Walker is out there pink-misting hunters and blowing Saudi diplomats to Kingdom Come)?

Whatever his plan is, you can be sure David Estes won't be the one to figure it out. He's too busy scapegoating Carrie for the fact that his agency still hasn't neutralized any of the threats that she identified in the first place. Her decision to call Brody and ask him for help in solving the Nazir puzzle does indeed seem to have originated in her "bad gut," as her father warned her, but I couldn't help but be impressed by Brody's ruthlessness in using Estes to throw a log across her rails. By the time Estes and his goons came rushing into her house to clear it of confidential documents, Saul had discovered the logic of her color-coded conspiracy theorizing and organized it into a very eye-catching wall display that promises to reveal Nazir's next move -- if they can just figure out what happened during the "yellow" period (we already know this is when Nazir's son was killed in an air strike authorized -- and later lied about -- by Vice President Walden). No matter. Walden wanted someone fired, and Carrie -- messy, crazy, inconvenient Carrie -- was the first person to give him an excuse.

The end of the episode is wrenching. As Carrie's beloved jazz drowns out the chaos surrounding her, all her fears seem to come true at once: Estes and her sister have the upper hand over her, the secret of her mental health issues is out, her career with the Agency is over, Saul is nowhere to be found, and America is at risk of being attacked -- and there's nothing she can do about it.

Guess we'll have to wait for the season finale to find out what happens next.

Two more notes, though, before we break for the week:

1. A number of commenters have fingered Galvez as Nazir's "mole" inside the C.I.A., and there was a highly suggestive nod in that direction about five minutes into tonight's episode. After learning that no fewer than 16 agencies had knowledge of the sting in the park, Estes asks Saul, "So how do I find the leak?" Saul's reply: "You can start by looking around you." Who's the next person Estes sees? Galvez. And what does Galvez have to say? "Sir, the vice president wants to see you." Could it be possible that we're all right: Galvez is the mole, and so is Vice President Walden? I know, this still doesn't make sense, but I'm holding on to it because my gut tells me there's something there. I just hope it's the good gut and not the bad one.

2. How about that scene where Carrie jumps out of the car and runs over to the garden by the side of the road? It was a bit of a stretch, I know, but it gave rise to yet another masterful juxtaposition. Contemplating the plants in her manic state, Carrie grasps the botanical patience of her terrorist targets: "You wait, you lay low and then you come to life." Next scene? Brody arriving to pick up his vest. Now that's good editing, folks!

This week's Brody-o-Meter score: 80

Previously: 'Homeland' Recap, Episode 10: Brody Runs ... Right Over Carrie

Illustration by Catarina Ferreira.

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I find my answer. If anyone is interested, the song is Trista by Tomasz Stanko Quartet.

January 01 2012 at 9:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the recap.
Does anyone knows what is the jazz song that close this episode ? (when they take carries stuff out) ?

December 30 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brody is going to stick it to the US and the terrorists all at once. guarantee it.

this show is way to smart to have him be nothing more than a suicide bomber.

December 15 2011 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Doth Raki

Michael, I read a few of these recaps/commentaries, and you are the only one to bring up my main question, which is "what is Brody's motivation" in doing what it appears he's about to do - the suicide bomber thing - and does it even make any sense? Makes me feel like there's a big piece of the puzzle that's missing (at least I hope so, as I'm giving the show - which I really like - the benefit of the doubt). It has to be smarter than this.

I haven't seen enough for me to believe that Brody's love for Issa and Abu Nazir and/or his religious beliefs are enough to make him do this, and put love of those people ahead of his family, or that blowing up himself and the VP even accomplishes anything significant (as in being worth killing yourself, leaving your family without a husband/father, and leaving them the object of scorn, etc).

Also, I don't get why the veep is the enemy simply because he was the guy talking about the attack on TV. The VP is the least powerful person in Washington. He was the messenger. He didn't order the attack. If he miss-characterized it, he didn't do that on his own. Even if this VP is more powerful than most, it still seems misguided. Yes I get that the VP wants to be prez, but we haven't seen enough to know that this makes him such a threat to whatever it is that Abu Nazir and Brody hold dear. Is he really that much more dangerous than the current prez (Obama or whoever it is supposed to be)? If both the prez and veep are being taken out, are the next guys in line really any better/more friendly to Abu Nazir? Wouldn't having the veep and prez killed by terrorists make it pretty likely that the next prez and veep were not exactly friendly towards terrorists?

And even if you are a terrorist/fanatic, do you really put a bomb in the car with your family? He couldn't have got it another time?

December 13 2011 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Doth Raki's comment
AOL BlackVoices

Great points about motivation. I think there will be a tie-in that Brody killing whoever - I don't even know who is target is now - will save future American soldiers in the war. That whoever is the target is dirty, incompetent or both, and endagers American troops in Iraq. The target may even have been related to any failings that led to Brody and Walker's initial capture - the current VP was formerly head of the CIA, according to the show (I thiink Nazir said this to Brody inthe flashback when watching the VP on tv). I think that's big enough motivation for Brody -a little revenge, a little payback, a little saving future lives.

December 17 2011 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Brody-O-Meter on high alert!!

December 13 2011 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Holly Houston Stein

Yes, I am one who has thought that Galvez is the mole all along. I thought last week he had sunglasses on and went into Brody's house as a secret service agent. This week, they were really giving hints that it was Galvez. With Carrie saying, "Get Galvez, he will figure this out" to Saul. And the scene you mentioned at the agency, where Galvez is front and center while Saul is talking about the 16 agencies. I don't think the VP is a mole, though, I think it's just Galvez working for Nazir.

I think Brody will not blow himself up, because Dana will have told Carrie what she witnessed at Gettysburg, and Carrie will stop Brody in time. I do think Brody will be court martialled for this, and will be found innocent because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

It's a great show and I hope to see the whole cast, minus Galvez who should be in prison, back next season.

December 13 2011 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My gut tells me the mole is Estes. It was Estes who allowed Brody to go into the interrogation room. And my gut tells me Walker is to shoot Brody if he fails to detonate. Great show!

December 13 2011 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
AOL BlackVoices

I tivo'd and re-watched the episode, and everythign Carrie says in her manic state which soundd so crazy ad unconnected in the first viewing actually makes sense in a second viewing, once you know about her colorcoded timeline. Maybe that's easy to achieve when it's fiction and the magic concept of timeline is withheld from the audience, but it was still cool to see how the dialogue and acting played believably crazy, not fake crazy, on one level and then crazy but sane on another level.

I also loved the very small but minor bit between Saul and Carrie's sister, when her sister is shocked to see the place cleaned up and Carrie's crazy mess laid out logically on the board. She asks a litle peeved, what's this, and Saul, sticking up for Carrier wiht just a tone, archly says "Her work." It's so believable that the sane sister, the doctor, the one who holds loony Dad and Carrie together, the one who sees life and balance and not just work and extremes, sees crazy as largely crazy, and is a little shook, even angry, to think maybe Carrie as had a point in her mania all along. And Saul, with seeingly no background intothe family dynamics, seems to divine this sstely tension and stick up for Carrie with just tone to his voice. Maybe because Saul too has suffered the short end of the family stick when he's chosen seemingly incomprehensible devotion to work over his wife's calm balance. Anyway, I thought in two sentences of dialogue, this show hinted at an entirely believable subtext to two characters who had previously never even interacted.

It seems like the obvious plot is to kill the pres and VP, making me wonder 1) who takes out Tom Walker (Galvez?) and 2) who the Speaker of the House is. Was there any mention of the Speaker in the scenes when Brody was at the party with the VP advisor/fundraiser?

Why didn't he cashier at the shop in Pennsylvania seem at all surprised to see Brody walk in without a word and go to the semi-secret back room area? That's weird.

I still really don't know where this is going, which is amazing in episode 11 of 12.

December 13 2011 at 12:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to AOL BlackVoices's comment

I mentioned the Speaker of the House because he's next in line after the Vice President to assume the presidency, according to the Constitution. So you didn't miss anything there. Love what you said about Saul sticking up for Carrie. I sure do hope you're planning to contribute to the blog on the all-new HuffPost TV!

December 13 2011 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I want to know what Malik thinks.

December 12 2011 at 10:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Although we know that we're supposed to be determining the plan of attack (and whether Dana will catch him; who is the mole, etc), we couldn't help but fixate on the relationship between Carrie and Saul and how genuine it feels. Did love Danes' manic behaviour in the hospital with the green pens - definitely a great line.

Check out our recap on bitchstolemyremote.com here http://wp.me/p1VQBq-cD

December 12 2011 at 10:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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