‘Homeland’ Review: “A Gettysburg Address”
“A Gettysburg Address” is probably the weakest episode of ‘Homeland‘ season 2 so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still a solid and often engaging hour of television — as long as it sticks with the CIA.
I’ve been struggling with Jessica’s character since season 1, and where a lot of her actions made sense then, I have a hard time empathizing with her now. Part of it is the frustration of seeing her try to get into Brody’s head every week and get constantly shut out, which turns her into someone who’s kind of whiny and weak — and it makes me wonder if she could even exist without Brody. Look, she exists in the show because she’s Brody’s wife, but I often like to think about characters and if they could exist without their significant other and if they would still be interesting people, and Jessica just wouldn’t. Her whole reason for existing is Brody, so she’s like this little planet caught in his orbit, struggling to siphon enough out of him to sustain her existence. It’s a cruel assessment, but some weeks — like this one — their dramatic home life becomes cumbersome to watch.
And maybe part of it this week is owed to Mike, who’s been doing his Scooby-Doo thing and trying to solve the mystery of Tom Walker’s death. He and Lauter go to where Tom was killed and speak to a local cop, who tells them that Tom was killed with a 9 mm (standard issue, “standard everything,” the men note). Mike goes digging in Brody’s shed and discovers a 9 mm handgun and one bullet missing from his pack. I haven’t been particularly fond of this whole faux-detective schtick at all this season, and here it only gives Mike a reason to tell Jessica he still loves her while imploring her to leave Brody, which gives her a reason to do her best “But he’s a good man!” routine. Trust is such an integral part of this show, thematically, but the stuff with Jessica and Mike and the sappy life of a congressman’s wife is getting redundant.
If anything, the DNA this plot thread shares with the rest of the hour is the feeling of being trapped. Mike is trapped by the CIA and unable to continue pursuing the truth behind Tom Walker’s death (but damned if he won’t keep at it, I’m sure), and Jessica feels trapped by her own love and the idea of someone her husband was and maybe could still be.
And this week Dana is trapped by the hit and run with Finn, who’s turned out to be an even bigger a-hole than imaginable, concerned with ruining his life and his father’s prospects as future president. Finn doesn’t care about Dana, and he doesn’t care that she went to the ICU and spoke to the daughter of the woman they hit, or that she sat by on the other side of the glass and watched as the woman died, leaving her daughter in this world alone. There are so many great elements to the Dana plot, but none of them are quite gelling as intended — yet. I want to say “yet” because I feel like this arc is ultimately going to show us who Dana really is, and what she does or doesn’t have in common with her own father. Something like this can really eat away at a person, and while I think the hit and run aspect was maybe just a touch too silly, it can and might still lend some depth of character to Dana, who is consistently the best thing about Brody’s life at home.
But there are bigger, better happenings in this episode — going back to the feeling of being trapped, Brody is feeling that pressure by helping the CIA try to identify Roya’s new contact, a man they can’t ferret out from any available database. Brody lies to Roya, saying he heard Carrie on the phone talking about a man who just landed in the US and who is likely a Hezbollah operative — it’s enough to give Roya pause, but she’s like a wall of steel and doesn’t let any details slip… other than a little bit about the Tailor’s place in Gettysburg, where her people have been watching the CIA watch the place, and she knows that Quinn and his team finally went in for a search. This gives Carrie a hunch that Roya is concerned about something important in that shop, and though we’ve seen Quinn act skeptical about Carrie’s “feelings,” something tells him to believe her this time around — and again, Carrie is right.
Just as Quinn calls in for reinforcements and prepares to examine a suspiciously hollow wall, a team of men in black gear — including Roya’s new contact — storm the facility, killing everyone except for Quinn and making off with a big black case in a surprisingly unnerving sequence. Watching the scene again, Quinn and a couple of the guys hear the bell ring on the front door of the shop and ready their guns, and maybe it’s the way television trains us, but I thought that surely the person entering the shop wasn’t a threat, and there’d be a moment of nervous laughter while everyone puts their guns down and goes about their business. Not so with ‘Homeland,’ and while most of this episode felt rather disjointed, this particular moment serves to snap everything back into place.
But it all goes back to trust, doesn’t it? Which is why Carrie confronts Brody (with her signature cry-face, natch) and demands to know if he lied to her, or if he told Roya something he shouldn’t have, or if he knew this was going to happen and kept it from her — and for once, he’s telling the truth.