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WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Episode Seven, “The Weekend”

Brody and Carrie, and Saul and Aileen go on some pretty unusual trips in this revelatory episode.

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland episode 7, “The Weekend.” Photograph by Kent Smith courtesy Showtime

Sex! Lies! Nazi tattoos! We heard a lot of buzz on Twitter last night saying (as is said almost every week) that this episode of Homeland was the best ever. Ne’er has an innocent box of Yorkshire Gold tea been at the root of so much trouble. This week’s spoiler-filled recap of last night’s plot-shattering episode of Homeland episode seven, “The Weekend,” is ahead, followed by some thoughts.

This episode opened in Beaumont, Texas, where Aileen, scruffier and less poised than usual (she’s on the run, y’all) is desperately trying to flee the country. In the future, Aileen, it’s probably not best to just give “Mexico” as your desired destination. That might set off a few warning bells and all. She manages to get a bus ticket to Nuevo Lareda, but she has a welcoming committee south of the border: lots of armed “federales” and Saul, bedecked in a glorious panama. No wonder he told Estes he wanted to pick up Aileen himself. We doubt there’s much call for snazzy straw hats over at Langley.

After outing his infidelity during the polygraph last week, Carrie naturally hops right into Brody’s car at his summoning. So now the pair are engaging in light banter while wondering where the heck it is they’re going. “I’m taking some time. From home. From Jess,” Brody tells her, but he also needs a drink, so Carrie takes him to a dive bar/pool hall/Nazi hangout somewhere in greater Washington. After she brutally rebuffs the advances of a Nazi, billed in the credits only as “Russ the Aryan” (her response, while awesome, is far too crude to print here), C and B flee the scene, and since they’re obviously both big fans of drunk driving, Carrie suggests a trip to her family cabin. They hop on I-95 to said cabin, where Carrie welcomes Brody to the picturesque little house (after making sure she has a loaded gun on hand, obvs).

Saul takes Aileen on a 30-hour road trip through America’s crappiest cities (no offense Greenville, Texas, and Munford, Tennessee, but they could at least have stopped for some decent Mexican food instead of at a mediocre diner). Initially she ignores his careful comments (he opens up about his unhappy home life to win her trust, and tells her how safe she is with him), but when he talks to her about Faisal and, yes, Graceland, she finally starts to open up a little. “My dad thought Elvis was the devil,” Aileen tells Saul, who mentions he’s been in touch with her father. “I haven’t,” she replies. “He’s worried about what their friends will think when they find out his good little girl is shacked up with a Saudi. Planning to give their beloved US the big ‘Fuck you’ it deserves.” If you had any doubts that Aileen was a terrorist, now is the time to dispel them.

Over at the cabin, Carrie and Brody are sitting on the jetty, hungover and trying to figure out what their multiple nights of drunken hookups mean (sure sounds like a relationship to me). Maybe it’s the daylight, but Carrie looks a lot softer—naïve, even. Brody says they should definitely go home, but instead the two go for a walk, where Carrie spills about losing her translator in Baghdad when he was lynched in front of her by an angry mob. The conversation seems to comfort Brody, who says this is the first time in forever that he’s found some peace. “Me, too. It’s pretty rare for me,” Carrie replies.

Dana, who hasn’t had nearly enough eye-rolling screen time recently, reacts to her dad’s departure by getting drunk and stoned with friends while her mom is at work (she swigs a whole lot of beer when the name “Mike” comes up during a drinking game). Unfortunately, she’s kind of a sloppy drunk, unlike her potential stepmom-to-be, and she backs into a plate glass window. Jess takes her to the hospital and calls Mike, who takes care of Chris and offers Jess some comfort. “I just want things to be simple again,” she tells him, then kisses him. But things are ruined again by Dana, who tells Mike in no uncertain terms to back off. With him around all the time, “there’s no place for my dad,” she tells him.

Carrie and Brody, both totally sober, are cooking dinner, which seems to freak Carrie out, judging by her longing gaze at the stack of wine bottles on the counter. “Will you go to prom with me?” Brody jokes, addressing how nervous they both are. But after demanding a nosegay (hello, obscure Elizabethan floral term!), Carrie makes out with him instead, and the pair proceed to do the unthinkable (at least for Carrie) and go to bed sober. With the roaring fire, the bucolic surroundings, and the lack of Dutch courage, it’s strangely intimate, particularly for Brody. “I just want to live here for a second,” he says to her. In the middle of the night, Carrie wakes up, and the pair are totally spooning (which again, clearly means they’re in love). She calms Brody down from his nightmare: “You’re with me. You’re safe. Everything’s fine.”

Saul stops with Aileen in Indiana to show her the abandoned shack where his family used to worship. “There were four Jewish families,” Saul tells her. “They gave me strict orders not to assimilate.” Poor, lonely little Saul was forbidden to play baseball or sing Christmas carols with his classmates, which served to make him hate both his parents and his religion. “They fuck you up,” Aileen replies, possibly channeling Phillip Larkin. But Saul’s thoughtful sharing has broken down her resolve, and somewhere in Indiana, she tells officials about her involvement with Abu Nazir and the American who came to her house a few weeks ago and spent hours on the roof. She works with a sketch artist to try to describe the man in question, and naturally, we’re supposed to think it’s Brody.

Over at the cabin, Carrie does something so unbelievably stupid it makes me doubt she’s ever been a successful spy. While searching for some breakfast, she tells Brody that she can rustle up some oatmeal or some Folger’s, even, but no Yorkshire Gold (remember Jess telling him it’s his favorite?). Brody is nonplussed. “How do you know the tea I drink?” he asks. Carrie, frozen in horror, fobs him off with some story about him drinking it at Langley and runs outside to get wood for the fire. But the damage has been done. “Are you watching me? Did you spy on me? You are a spy, right?” he asks. So Carrie fesses up and tells him everything—how her source told her an American POW had been turned, how she was convinced it was him, and how she’s been working for the entirety of their romantic weekend: “I’m always working.” After that buzzkill, Brody pulls out the gun she stashed. “Looking for this?” he asks.

Saul sends David over to the Faisal house to examine the roof, and he doesn’t find anything immediately suspicious stashed there. But while looking through his binoculars, David notices the house has a perfect line of sight to the airport—specifically the Air France terminal, a hangar, and . . . the landing pad for Marine One. Suddenly Abu Nazir’s plan seems crystal clear. Carrie, meanwhile, is interrogating Brody, who tells her she can ask him any question she wants. He tells her about praying in the garage, and about the nervous tic he has of rubbing his fingers together when he doesn’t have his prayer beads. He also tells her about being forced to beat Walker to death. “I did it. And I vowed never to tell another living soul.” Carrie’s phone rings, but she ignores it until Brody leaves to get in his car. And Saul promptly tells her Brody is innocent. Aileen’s sketch is of Tom Walker, the fellow Marine Brody supposedly beat to death in the desert. “He’s alive. He’s the terrorist,” Saul says. And he’s also a military sniper with a nice clean view of the President’s helicopter.

Carrie rushes out to the car to tell Brody she knows she’s wrong: “This weekend, this time that we spent together. It was real.” But Brody tells her to get lost in no uncertain terms and drives off, leaving Carrie crying in a remote house with no way of getting home. (We should also mention that during a phone call to her sister, it became clear that Carrie’s run out of her antipsychotics.) Brody returns home, where he walks into all three bedrooms in his house before sitting on the couch and crying, too. Love hurts, it seems.

Now, some thoughts:

(1) I was a little worried that the whole Brody plot might go the way of The Killing and get stretched out interminably, but by no means was I expecting an astounding plot reveal midseason. Now that we know that Brody is innocent, how does it change the dynamic of the show? Last night’s episode pretty much confirmed the relationship potential between Brody and Carrie, which you could be forgiven for having doubted before (between the psychosis and the PTSD, they’re not your immediate choice for a love match). But given their sweet, awkwardly intimate moments at the cabin (before Brody whipped out a gun and Carrie started interrogating him), it does seem like they share a connection. Now all we can do is hope they’re not both too messed up to make it work.

(2) There are Nazi pool bars in Northern Virginia?

(3) The writers did an outstanding job with this episode. There were so many subtle parallels between the characters that served to make us really think about the issues (without hammering us over the head with didactic plot points). Compare troubled and angry teenager Dana with the formerly troubled and angry teenager Aileen, for example, or juxtapose Saul’s outsider status with Aileen’s. Then there was the brilliant and nuanced way Saul wore down Aileen, which compared so perfectly with Brody’s admission of his affection for Abu Nazir. “I was broken, living in the dark for eight years,” Brody told Carrie. “And a man walked in who was nice to me. And I loved him.” There are also incredible parallels between Brody and Aileen, one of whom converted to Islam after a pampered, lonely childhood, and one of whom did so after eight years of horrific torture. Kudos to the writers for giving us a troubled Muslim who isn’t a terrorist.

(4) Carrie can cook! Here she is, nervously chopping vegetables for a romantic dinner à deux with Sergeant Brody, her married lover who she really, really hopes will out himself as a terrorist. It’s not exactly Barefoot Contessa, but we’ll take it.

So now we know that Brody is a good guy and that his marriage is almost certainly over. We also know Carrie has messed up seemingly irrevocably by telling Brody countless secrets that could almost certainly get her fired. Dana is trouble with a capital T. The big shocker is that Tom Walker is alive and on a mission to kill the President. Here’s one thing we still don’t know: Who slipped Hamid the razor blade? It almost certainly wasn’t Brody, which means it might well have been Saul. But why?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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