Episode Title: "The Weekend"
Writer: Meredith Stiehm
Director: Michael Cuesta
Previously on "Homeland":
CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) had a falling out with her mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) over her ongoing suspicion of recently freed prisoner of war, U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) and the extremely suspicious death of Afsal Hamid, the last surviving member of the terrorists who were holding Brody hostage. However, Carrie's spirits were lifted when she realized that she could use the incident to force Brody to answer questions under a lie detector to determine if he slipped Hamid the razor. Meanwhile, Brody finally learned for certain that his wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) had been sleeping with his best friend, Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff).
Incensed, Brody punched out Mike and left his home. Elsewhere, domestic terrorist, Aileen Morgan (Marin Ireland) and her lover, Rakim Fizel (Omid Abtahi) were targeted by their own terrorist organization — presumably on the orders of Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) — after the U.S. learned of their role of the terrorists' plot. Fizel ended up dead in a hotel room as Aileen narrowly made her escape. Later, Brody called Carrie to a local bar where they got drunk together and she revealed what the questions would be on the lie detector test. Carrie and Brody then had sex in the back of his car.
The next day, Brody passed his lie detector test with flying colors, even when Carrie made sure to include a question about being faithful to his wife. Carrie knew he was lying but she couldn't prove it without exposing her own affair with Brody. Outside in the parking lot, Brody pulled up in front of Carrie and told her to get into the car. Carrie forced a smile and complied.
In Texas, Aileen nervously purchases a ticket for the next bus to Mexico. In the car with Brody, Carrie cheerfully tells him that he nailed the polygraph test. She asks him why he's here with her and Brody responds that he's taking time away from his wife, Jessica because he learned about her extramarital affair. Carrie suggests that they hit a dive bar, where the unlikely duo gets drunk and play poo togetherl. But when Carrie messes with a Neo Nazi man who attempts to hit on her, she and Brody have to flee the bar to avoid a serious beating. Once back in the car, they decide to head towards Carrie's cabin in the woods.
Back at CIA headquarters, Saul tells David Estes (David Harewood) that Aileen was spotted getting on a bus to Mexico and he wants to personally be there when she gets off the bus in order to turn her against her former terrorist comrades. At the cabin, Brody and Carrie stumble around while searching for the key. She drunkenly calls him out on the lie he told about being faithful to his wife and he says that he became an expert at lying to save his life. Once they get inside, Carrie and Brody engage in another round of rough sex. In Mexico, Aileen gets off the bus and she is immediately arrested by the Mexican police.
Saul introduces himself and he takes Aileen into custody for the long drive back to Virginia before he hands her over to the FBI. For several hours, Saul lightly grills Aileen about the terrorists' plans and how she met Faisel as a child, but she doesn't open up to him. When she finally asks Saul why he's with her, he replies that he wants them to understand each other and he offers up his relationship with his "brown" wife as an example of both of them loving someone outside of their race and facing hostility because of it. Back at the cabin, Carrie and Brody debate about going home or getting drunk again. Instead, they make dinner and have sex again.
During the night, Brody has another intense nightmare and Carrie wakes him up to offer comfort. Near the end of their journey, Saul takes Aileen to his hometown in Indiana and he shares his theory that she became a terrorist because of the man she fell in love with. And he offers to help her. Soon after, Aileen asks Saul about his marriage and he admits that it's falling apart. Aileen also asks what happened to Faisel's body and she finally breaks down. Hours later, Saul calls David to say that he struck a deal with Aileen, who purchased the home with Faisel under the airport's flight path under orders. And she also works with a sketch artist to identify the American collaborator.
Back at the cabin, Carrie and Brody wake up and seem happy together. But the mood is ruined when Carrie inadvertently mentions Brody's favorite tea and she can't come up with a convincing lie. Brody finally confronts Carrie and he produces her gun when she tries to take off. Carrie admits that she spied on Brody because her source told her that an American POW had been turned by Nazir. Brody puts down the gun and offers to answer any question she has. He then frankly admits that he knew Nazir as the one man who gave him comfort during his torment and to his part in killing Sgt. Tom Walker (Chris Chalk), his friend and fellow captive. Brody says that he had to kill Walker or be killed himself and he also discloses that he has converted to Islam.
On the roof of Aileen's home, an agent attempts to retrace the steps of the American collaborator and he notes that the roof has been cleaned. He also finds that it has a direct line-of-sight to the helipad for Marine One, one of the aircraft that carries the President of the United States. Saul then has a picture of Brody sent to Aileen so she can identify him as the collaborator. Back at the cabin, Carrie isn't convinced with Brody's answers, but he's had enough of her and he starts to take off. Then Saul calls Carrie and tells her that they were wrong about Brody. He isn't the turned POW, it's his friend, Tom Walker; who isn't as dead as we thought. Carrie tries to stop Brody, but he tells her off before driving away. Back at his home, Brody looks in on his sleeping family and then weeps.
It's refreshing to see that "Homeland" has overcome a few shaky episodes on its way towards becoming a real powerhouse for Showtime. The events in this episode felt more suited for the penultimate of the season, not the middle of the first year. Now in just seven episodes, the entire premise for the series has been turned on its head.
Right from the start, I had Carrie pegged as someone who would have an affair with Brody if it meant that she could get the truth about his terrorist ties. It's not surprising that it played out exactly that way, but the speed of that story is impressive. And it's difficult to write off Carrie's affair with Brody as simply being one-sided or an absolute lie. Prior to their cabin adventure, that might have been true. But Carrie seemed to have developed real feelings for Brody, if the way she offered him comfort during his night terrors was any indication.
It's a little hard to buy that a liar as practiced as Carrie would slip up over something as minor as Brody's favorite tea. But it also suggests that Carrie assumed a certain level of intimacy between them would allow her to know that, even if she didn't consciously think it through. In short, the liar forgot to lie. Regardless of any lingering feelings she may have had towards Brody, Carrie still thought she was right about him being a terrorist proxy and nothing he said made any difference. It's only when Saul tells Carrie about Walker that she attempts to reconcile with Brody, but it's too late.
If everything that Brody said is true, it certainly paints him as much more complex character than the Manchurian Candidate that we assumed him to be. Everything that he related to Carrie could potentially be used against him, but Brody admitted to almost everything suspicious the audience has seen him do on the show. However, it's way too soon to let Brody off the hook for being a potential collaborator, willingly or not. That razor blade had to have been slipped to Hamid by someone. And if Walker is alive, then why does Brody remember killing him?
It's also interesting to note that the only character who failed the polygraph test regarding that razor was Saul, but that's either a red herring or an obvious clue hidden in plain sight. It's hard to believe that Saul would be a terrorist collaborator, especially in light of how much trouble he goes through in this episode to get Aileen to talk. But there may be more to Saul's behavior than we currently understand.
The main plotline of the show has become very satisfying and the core relationships also feel rewarding. The only area in which "Homeland" is slipping up is with Brody's rebellious daughter, Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor). Dana's arm injury in this episode came off like a bad outtake from "Reefer Madness" and it just wasn't very convincing or compelling. Jessica's love triangle with Brody and Mike is more promising, but it's also veering dangerously close to soap opera territory.
But I can overlook a little soap opera if the rest of the season stays as interesting as this episode. Judging from this installment, "Homeland" may have just come into its own as one of the best new dramas on TV.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.