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TV Review: Homeland – “The Good Soldier”

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In the latest episode of Showtime’s Homeland, “The Good Solider,” Carrie (Claire Danes) secures polygraphs for everyone who has contact with the dead insurgent. Saul (Mandy Patinkin), upset about losing his wife, Mira (Sarita Choudhury, Kings), flubs the test. But he aces a retake the next day. Brody (Damian Lewis), on the other hand, the real target of Carrie’s scheme, passes, too, but proves to her that he can lie without detection. The problem is, for Carrie to expose him, she has to admit to the drunken sex she has with Brody in her car, which she cannot do without risking her own job.

The delicate dance between Carrie and Brody is certainly the heart of Homeland. However, even with all of the tension between them, their sexual encounter in “The Good Soldier” is unexpected. After all, Carrie is completely convinced that Brody is an enemy of the state. Why would she sleep with him under those circumstances? Is this the attraction of sexy evil? Or is it something more? Perhaps all of the time that she spends studying him has resulted in her seeing Brody as being damaged, as she is, forging an unlikely bond. For whatever reason, it is clear that the attraction is mutual, and the physical expression of it will likely continue.

Brody’s reasons for the encounter are much simpler than Carrie’s still murky ones. Carrie is hot. Brody doesn’t know about her suspicions. He is furious at his wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin), after it is confirmed that she slept with his best friend, Mike (Diego Klattenhoff), when he was a prisoner of war. Brody may be looking for a little revenge. Carrie is flirty and willing and very hot, so why not? In this manner, perhaps Brody can even justify to himself that he isn’t being unfaithful. If so, perhaps he isn’t fooling the polygraph after all, but telling the truth as he sees it. Morality is a subjective concept.

Jessica and Mike’s relationship is exposed at a wake for Brody’s fallen comrade. It’s something Brody probably thinks he knows anyway, but when a fellow soldier blurts the truth out, Brody is finally justified in punching Mike in the face. It’s a complicated situation, because Brody had been missing so long, that few can blame Jessica and Mike for finding comfort in each other’s arms. However, it’s also understandable why Brody would be angry, feeling betrayed that, while he suffered as a tortured enemy combatant, his wife was fooling around with Mike.

Daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) understands this, and sides with Mom. Dana may give Jessica lots of crap, as teenage daughters are wont to do. But when Brody obviously behaves immaturely, and cannot see past Jessica’s indiscretion, Dana gives him the cold shoulder. This is not an argument that Brody is destined to win in his daughter’s eyes. Too bad, because Dana and Brody actually have quite a nice relationship, prior to this scene.

But whatever is going on between Brody and Carrie, the result of all this drama, remains ambiguous. Which is why Homeland is one of the most intriguing series on television. It’s impossible to pin down these two leads, or prove which shade of gray is the correct one.

Another big reveal with the polygraph experience in Homeland is that the CIA now knows that Carrie is taking illegal drugs while in their employ, and lies about it. What will the consequences of this be? Might she be fired? Suspended? If she thinks she is having trouble getting support for her theories now, wait until her drug abuse comes to light! This will be catnip to David (David Harewood), who still blames Carrie for ruining his marriage, at least partly, and is also mad because the way thatCarrie gets the polygraph approved embarrasses him.

Saul’s own story in “The Good Soldier” is heartbreaking. He is swamped with a national emergency, hunting down a terrorist on the run, but also has to deal with a crumbling marriage. Saul is willing to give up his life in the States and follow Mira to India, but that’s not what she wants. She feels they have grown apart, and are now closer to friends than lovers. She wants to move on. Even worse, they both see the facts of their current living situation the same, but while Saul thinks it’s heaven, Mira sees it as a failure. This is a case of two different people no longer wanting the same things.

And then there’s the nagging feeling that maybe, just maybe, as unlikely as it seems, Saul is working with the terrorists, too. This could be horrible, but the seed is planted in his polygraph, and it’s impossible to shake it until proven otherwise.

A review of “The Good Soldier” is not complete without touching on the funeral scene. Brody tries to speak a eulogy, but finds himself at a loss for words. Whether that is because of guilt in the role he plays in his friend’s torture, or because he is just really choked up with grief, is inconsequential. Brody breaks the silence with a roll call, highlighting the missing man. It’s an extremely moving moment, one on par with the saddest scenes ever in film. This is brilliant, and kudos are much deserved to whoever came up with, and executed, this idea.

The final story in this week’s Homeland involves two terrorists on the run. For some reason, it is very hard to find the actors who play these two online in the usual sources, but their plot is almost directly ripped from 24, a beloved, much missed show. The guy keeps urging the girl to turn themselves in to the government. He argues it will save their lives, but she is insistent that they stay on the run. Of course, he is the one that is actually gunned down, while she escapes through the bathroom window. Will seeing him lying in a pool of his own blood finally convince her to take his advice? And what is their connection to the larger arcs?

Plus, the polygraph guy is played by Dr. Venture (The Venture Brothers) himself, James Urbaniak! Awesome!

Do not miss Homeland, airing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com
  • WasabiNinja

    I seem to be the only one saying this. But maybe Brodie passed the polygraph question about his fidelity because, knowing about what happened while he was away, he felt justified in cheating on his wife.

  • http://jeromewetzeltv.blogspot.com/ Jerome Wetzel

    No, you aren’t the only one. I speculated a similar sentiment in my review. You may very well be on to something. I am not convinced one way or the other that Brody is a terrorist.

  • http://trinimansblog.blogspot.com/ Triniman

    The best show on television, now that the season for Breaking Bad is over. If there’s a better show on right now, I’d like to know what it is.