‘Homeland’ Review: “Q&A”
It's interrogation time on this week's 'Homeland,' aptly titled "Q&A" -- though there seems to be more questions asked than answers given, this week's episode might just be one of the series' best to date.
What an intense hour of television, right? It called to mind some of the smaller episodes of 'Breaking Bad,' like "The Fly" -- one of those episodes where the majority of the action takes place in one location between two people. But only about 80% of "Q&A" takes place in the interrogation room, where Peter Quinn takes a stab at Brody both figuratively and later, in horrific fashion, literally, but he's not getting anywhere. Not even showing Brody the now familiar tape of his suicide bombing confession is enough to get Brody to admit he was wearing a vest that day in December or that he knows anything about Abu Nazir's plans to attack US soil. In a moment of theatrical desperation and anger, Quinn stabs Brody's hand, leaving the door wide open for Carrie to come in as the good cop and nurse his wounds.
The best lies start as a kernel of truth, and watching Brody and Carrie interact with each other with that in mind is absolutely compelling television. Carrie uses the moment to get Brody to tell her if he ever cared or felt guilty about costing her the job she loved and making her question her own sanity, and there's some honesty there -- if you take away the CIA and the terrorism, Carrie was seeing a married man who broke her heart, but he took it one step (or three) further. She's playing him in this scene, but she's doing so from a place of honesty and heartbreak.
And Brody is definitely lying about not wearing a vest, but he's not lying about the rest. He doesn't know what Nazir's plans are, he did have a change of heart, and he does believe the Vice President is a monster. Hearing him speak so hatefully about Walden brings a whole new dimension to the way the two have been palling around this season, so when Carrie turns off the interrogation cameras and digs deeper, we feel the way Brody's been "drowning" in his lies. That entire stretch of the conversation when Carrie seems to have cracked his skull and found the sensitive spot with such grace and seemingly so little effort is one of the most intense sequences this show has ever offered -- and it all takes place in one small room, between two people with very different aims.
She gets to him by explaining that Abu Nazir systematically broke Brody down into pieces, so that all that was left was pain, and then he relieved the pain and put Brody back together, shaping him into someone Nazir wanted him to be. The exhaustion and sadness on Damian Lewis' face is some next-level acting work, and both Lewis and Claire Danes bring some seriously nuanced facial expressions this week, like when Carrie drives Brody away from the CIA after he agrees to help them with Nazir (we knew it was going this way, inevitably) and he picks up her hand -- there's a faint smile on Carrie's face, and we know, just like we knew when she said she wished he would leave his wife and kids, that she still loves him.
Speaking of the wife and kids -- Jessica spends much of the episode trying to reassure the kids that Brody is coming home and they're working out their marital problems. Dana, on the other hand, is having no issues in the boy department. She breaks up with Xander and heads off on her first real date with Finn Walden. Maybe it's the way we've been conditioned, but everyone else watching this felt anxious as the pair sped off from the secret service detail, cutting across traffic and darting down alleys as if they were starring in some zany political teen rom-com -- we all knew something horrific was coming, right? And boom, Finn Walden hits a pedestrian woman with his car and convinces Dana that they should speed off into the night, lest anyone find out the vice president's son almost/maybe killed someone. And here I was liking Finn, showing off his love of cinema with his talk of taking in a Sergio Leone film at the local theater and everything. Maybe Dana should have stuck with pothead Xander. When's the last time a pothead decided it was a good idea to get in a car and speed around town, anyway?
And thus we're at the end of the Brody chase, as established in the beautiful scene where Saul and Quinn take down their photos of possible terrorist suspects, leaving only Roya Hammad on the bulletin board. Without Brody's terrorism secret, 'Homeland' can really start chasing down Nazir, and with the reveal that Nazir is most definitely planning a strike on America, we've got a whole new ticking clock.