WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Season Two, Episode Seven, “The Clearing”

Once again, foliage makes magic happen between Carrie and Brody.
Anyone who insults this beard is automatically an enemy of the United States. Mandy Patinkin as Saul; photograph courtesy of Kent Smith for Showtime.
Anyone who insults this beard is automatically an enemy of the United States. Mandy Patinkin as Saul; photograph courtesy of Kent Smith for Showtime.

Last night’s episode of
Homeland, judging from the Twitter reactions, was one you either loved or hated. If you’re
a fan of carefully crafted dialogue, good acting, and underwater scenes, you probably
loved it. If you’re not such a fan of ludicrous plot points, bizarro minor characters,
and insane amounts of time being spent on the premise that a father would want to
see his daughter go to jail, you probably hated it.

File me under the latter column. I thought—despite the return of Aileen, Carrie and
Brody smooching in the woods, and Dana’s confession of murder—that this was one of
the most tedious episodes we’ve seen so far, with little in the way of intrigue and
attempts to make us believe Brody is suddenly developing a conscience that were frankly
ridiculous. “He was a soldier,” he tells Carrie of Rex, a rich man who keeps horses
in abject luxury (sound familiar?). “He was a real soldier . . . he served in Vietnam,
saw all the shit he’s seen, and he didn’t lose himself. Worst of all, he believes
he’s like me. That guy is the man I could have been.” Well, sorry to interrupt your
pity party, B, but it’s not like your eight years in a cell being tortured, beaten,
and mentally broken were an all-expenses-paid trip to Sandals.

The episode opens with Roya looking very far from her usual soignée self (she’s in
jeans, for one thing, and her hair hasn’t seen a blow dryer in a good few days). Brody,
ostensibly out on a run, jogs up to her, and the two converse about what went down
in Gettysburg. “We lost a man there. You’re going to have to assume a larger role,”
says Roya. Brody, quite reasonably, wants to know what this larger role is, but the
writers—sorry, Roya—would prefer to keep us all in the dark until episode ten or so.
Roya knows Brody’s attending a fundraiser for Walden, and she advises him to “keep
him happy. Very happy.”

Saul heads out to the terrifyingly horrible supermax prison in Williamsburg, where
Aileen from last season (Jihadi Jane) is being kept in solitary confinement. According
to the guard, she’s “a spitter, a hitter, and a shitter,” which doesn’t sound like
the sweet blonde terrorist Saul used to know. And boy, is he right. She sits, catatonic,
in her cell, with now-brown hair and decades worth of new wrinkles on her face. Saul
takes her to a room and asks gently if she knows their new terrorist. She replies
that she does, but she won’t give away any information without getting something in
return: a window.

Carrie visits Peter in the hospital and tells him Galvez is dying. This fact gets
repeated later in the episode, so it’s either a red herring like Seth Gilliam’s brief
cameo or something you should pay attention to. Carrie thinks Walden is once again
Abu Nazir’s target. “Again?” says Peter. Sure, because once you’ve tried to kill the
guy who killed your son and failed the first time, you totally get bored and focus
on something else. Then Peter decides he’s checking himself out and strips in front
of a vaguely shocked Carrie. “Like you’ve never seen a dick before,” he says, sweetly.

The Waldens and the Brodys are heading out to the fundraiser, and in one limo, Dana
tells Finn that she went to the funeral of the woman they killed and that when the
collection plate was passed around for the family there was only, like, $12 in it.
She wants to confess, and after arguing, Finn finally agrees. In the other limo, Brody
and Jessica are discussing his political future when B asks why Mike Faber came to
the house the other day. “He told me something upsetting,” says Jess, which is an
understatement. She says she can handle the truth, but no more lies, please, so Brody
lies and tells her the CIA made him kill Tom Walker. Jess looks horrified.

At the big, fancy house in Virginia (lots of love for VA this episode), Brody freaks
out and calls Carrie furiously to complain about Faber while Rex schmoozes the former
Mrs. George Clooney and tells her she still looks like a Tri-Delt. Over at HQ, Peter
guzzles painkillers like Skittles and sends Carrie off to fix things. First she goes
to see Mike, lets slip some important matters of national security, and tells him
to “cease and fucking desist,” which is cool (Carrie is actually being pretty professional
this episode). Then she goes to tell Brody that it’s all taken care of, and they end
up macking on each other furiously in the woods (not so professional, and if anyone
can tell me what it is with these two and foliage, I’d appreciate it). But Brody keeps
stopping to look at her suspiciously, which is apparently a turn-on for Carrie because
they keep going at it, but then he starts to look really suspicious that she’s “handling”
him, and he walks crossly away. “I don’t want you to feel used,” says Carrie. Um,
I think that might be your problem, sweetheart.

Saul is having all kinds of issues with Aileen, because the good ol’ boy who runs
the supermax is a dick of epic proportions who tells Saul he hates his urban, Chardonnay-swilling
type (I’m paraphrasing) and then has the audacity to insult his beard, which is like
telling God he needs to shave. So Saul jumps over him and calls the attorney general
to get Aileen a window. In the meantime, he gives her wine, cheese, and bread, because
Saul always wins over the ladies with food, and lets her borrow his glasses to read
the window authorizing document that’s been faxed over. She tells him the new terrorist
in town is Mohammed Al Gandi, and he’s been in the country for about a year (which
does not match their intelligence, but never mind). He lives in Newark, and he loves
guns.

Saul rushes to call Peter, who flies over to New Jersey to join the FBI in raiding
Mohammed’s house. But poor Mohammed is just a music student Aileen knew in the Middle
East. She’s played them. Why would she do that? Saul wonders. He rushes back to the
cell to find she’s killed herself with his glasses. Her plan all along was, apparently,
to spin them some yarn in the hope that Saul would leave her alone with something
made of glass. To which I ask, why not the wine bottle? Saul is gruffly heartbroken,
and Aileen whispers to him the she had a whole day looking at the light out the window,
and it was enough. Come back,
The Killing. Your red herring episodes are all but forgiven.

Brody goes swimming at night, so no ladies in pink twinsets will stare at his scars.
It feels a lot like this is supposed to be a baptism of sorts, and he’s going to come
out the water as a changed man. And it kind of goes that way when Dana blurts out
what she and Finn did seven days ago. Cynthia Walden knows they can make it all go
away, but Jess, Dana, and Brody all unanimously agree that the best thing to do is
come clean, because we know Brody loves honesty so much, and really, who doesn’t want
to see their teenage daughter go to jail? Commie hippies, that’s who.

Unfortunately, Walden isn’t so fond of this honesty tactic, and calls in Estes to
keep an eye on Brody and hush everything up. Brody grabs Dana and tells her he’s driving
her to the police station. “I’m so relieved!” says Dana, because that’s what you say
when you’re about to be arrested for murder. But Estes sees them leave and calls Carrie,
who intercepts them on the way into the suburban “DC” police station. “Hi, Dana. I’m
your new mommy!” she says. Just kidding, that’s SNL. Dana’s like, I know who you are,
crazy, and Carrie tells Brody he can’t be alienating Walden right now or his deal
with the CIA will fall through and everyone will find out he almost blew them up.
Brody looks furious, and Dana runs away, because she is so, so mad. “This is not okay.
None of this is f***ing okay,” Brody yells, and Carrie’s face starts to crumple again.

Questions:

1) There was a nice moment with Max when Peter called him a mute and Max jumped up
to say, “I’m not a mute,” which also simultaneously proved that he was not, in fact,
a mute. I feel like we’re being pushed to think Max is the mole. But does he really
have enough access? I always got the impression he and Virgil were just freelancers.

2) Peter’s pill-popping looks menacing. But if he and Carrie ever got together, wouldn’t
they totally throw the best parties?

3) I know Morgan Saylor is a talented young actress, but after seeing Nasim Pedrad
follow Brody blindly around the stage saying, “Dad? Dad? Dad?” over and over again,
will we ever be able to take Dana seriously again?

4) Are we stuck with all these red herring episodes because everything peaked too
soon with Brody? This is the problem when you play a lot of your cards/interesting
plotlines early on in the season. You have to drag everything else out for longer.

5) Is there really anyone out there who wouldn’t jump at the chance to have their
daughter’s fatal felony swept under the rug? And if water has such magical, conscience-restoring
powers, why aren’t there infinity pools at Guantanamo?

Whar did you think of last night’s episode of
Homeland? Let us know in the comments.

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