Homeland Recap: Brody Is Back And He Is Behaving Just As Weird As Saul Is
This week’s episode pays homage to JG Ballard and Tennessee Williams, which actually sounds better than it played.
We start off in a lush rural setting – Catia La Mar, Venezuela – where some tough looking hombres are waiting for something. Venezuela, Homeland’s new go-to Latin American country, where all manner of lawlessness and intrigue ensue.
Brody! Brody’s back! A jeep arrives and a badly wounded Brody is handed over to the men. He was injured in an ambush – not part of the plan – and is transported in a flatbed truck to what looks like an underground garage flickering lights where he’s anesthetized with heroin. The bullet is taken out by a mysterious American, who may or may not be a doctor, but seems to have taken out a bullet or two in his time.
Mysterious American will henceforth be referred to as Blanche du Bois because (1) like Vivian Leigh he speaks in a barely serviceable Southern accent (2) like Blanche du Bois he seems to like young boys and (3) the cruelties and “judgment” of the world have forced him into a kind of exile.
Blanche du Bois is not in charge. A man who is referred to as El Niño is in charge. El Niño has a big scary black widow spider tattoo on his neck, which screams gang-lord.
I don’t buy that a real South American gang leader would be referred to as “El Niño.” It sounds like the same type of thing the writers who used Wizard of Oz character names as codes for assassination targets would come up with. I shall refer to him as Spidey.
Spidey asks Blanche if Brody is going to survive. Blanche says yeah if they still have enough antibiotics. Blanche does not directly admit knowing who Brody is, but clearly does, wondering why Spidey has gone to all this trouble to bring him there and save his life, given there’s a big bounty on his head, dead or alive.
Spidey explains, “Maybe someone did you a favor once.” Blanche says, “It must have been some favor.”
Brody wakes up at some point and a beautiful woman is cooking up more smack. Later in a haze, he catches a glimpse of someone stealing his wallet and passport. The next time he wakes, which could be a day or a week later, there’s a distant sound of a Muslim call to prayer. The beautiful young woman is there again. Her name is Esme, and she’s wearing a tank top, shorts and combat boots. They are fresh out of coffee, so she offers him heroin. His lips say, “No,” while his eyes say, “Yes.” His lips win.
He struggles to get out of bed. She helps support him, and they go to an unfinished balcony looking out on the city. Spidey comes in and tells him, “Welcome to your new home.” He also drops Carrie’s name.
Brody reports to Spidey that someone stole his wallet and passport. He tells Spidey that he needs his passport to travel. Spidey replies like, “Yeah sure you do, dude. Like you can just walk out of here tomorrow.”
Later Brody is recovered enough to go for a walk with Esme. The language block keeps him from asking too many questions like where the fuck are they? We see from a exterior shot that they are in a high-rise. They pass apartments without doors, and inside there’s life – children studying, families eating, prostitutes giving blow jobs. The hallways are filled with colorful graffiti. Children play despite a lack of railings. There’s a beauty parlor and even a bodega. It’s like a city, or maybe even a world. It’s dystopian and utopian all at the same time.
This outing is too much for Brody, and his wound opens, which leads back to Blanche, who offers him more heroin because they may be short on antibiotics, but apparently they’ve got lots of heroin. Brody just says no.
Blanche tells him they are in the Tower of David, (which is actually a for real place) commissioned by an “egomaniacal banker” (like there is any other kind) during the boom years. It was never completed and now has turned into the world’s coolest squat, which also provides refuge to assorted outlaws, just like the Casbah in Algiers.
You’d think Brody would be all like, “Yeah, this is way better than getting shot by Columbians! Free drugs, a hot young woman who seems kind of into me, and a bodega conveniently located on every floor.” But no. He can’t wait to get to leave.
Blanche gets into character explaining how the world outside can be a judgmental place, and they “belong” there.
Esme leads Brody to Spidey (her father) who is with his crew. They’ve got the guy who stole Brody’s stuff. Spidey returns the passport and wallet. Then his guys throw the thief down an air shaft. Brody is very upset by this. Spidey rightly points out that they really didn’t have a lot of choice given there’s a big price on Brody’s head and they can’t just let robbers go.
Brody tells Spidey he wants to move on to “the next place.” . A very annoyed Spidey tells him Carrie doesn’t know where he is, and doesn’t want to know. There’s no next place. Finito.
Even if Spidey isn’t explaining it very well, wouldn’t Brody figure out that Carrie would find a safe place for him to hole up until she could prove his innocence? Where did Brody think he’d wind up? Yeah, it’s a tough world where they throw thieves down air shafts, but they don’t let in police. Besides, a few months ago, Brody killed the Vice-President, and before that he killed the tailor, and before that he killed that other guy. When exactly did he become Gandhi?
Since Brody got injured trying to keep Spidey’s men from dropping the thief, he winds up at Blanche’s. Blanche is out of chamomile tea, and suggests Brody unwind with some relaxing horse instead. Blanche waxes poetic about how the Germans invented the drug and named it with a word that meant, “heroic” – “so you don’t have to be.” If he ever gets amnesty for whatever horrific acts caused him to move there, he has a future in advertising because I would so buy that.
And then we are back in Carrieland. We’ve moved from the JG Ballard’s “Highrise” to “Suddenly Last Summer,” the Tennessee Williams melodrama, in which Elizabeth Taylor is institutionalized to keep her from talking.
Carrie is trying to convince a psychiatrist that after three weeks on lithium she is all better, but she keeps screwing it up, and the shrink doesn’t buy it, instead he makes vague threats about changing her meds and keeping her from having visits because this is the Soviet Union where doctors can do that, and there’s no access to lawyers or the outside world.
Back over in the Casbah, Brody goes down to the bottom of the air shaft to cover the rotting corpse of the thief because just like Saul his character no longer behaves in a manner consistent with previous seasons.
We cut to the hospital, where Carrie is building a house made of Popsicle sticks.
It even has a balcony. A lady in green scrubs praises her in the exact tone you’d use with a two year old who just made it to the potty for the first time, which sends Carrie into the bathroom where she bumps her head against a mirror until it bleeds.
This was a better alternative to snapping the woman’s neck with one hand, which Carrie could totally do because she is a super-spy.
Meantime, Brody has come up with a brilliant plan. He’ll get Esme to help him escape and he’ll go to that conveniently located mosque. Brody, like many Americans, seems to believe that Muslims are all in this together and will give sanctuary to alleged terrorists because they are Muslims.
Esme wants to go too. This surprises Brody because men are idiots and don’t know how to read signals, but he tells her she can’t, and she has a sad, and somehow it doesn’t occur to him that maybe she’s going tell her father. But all this is in line with this week’s version of Brody, who is really, really stupid and has fewer survival skills than a four week old kitten.
We return to Carrie’s version of the Hotel California, where she enlists a sympathetic aide to help her see the Gentleman Caller who’s been coming to inquire about her. She thinks Saul sent him, but he turns out to be a lawyer, and tells her he’s there on behalf of his partner who would very much like to help her get out and speak to her. Carrie is sure he’s an agent of some foreign power, trying to recruit her as an asset, and she tells him a thing or too about how she’ll never betray the CIA, which is maybe a sign she’s getting better as last time she was trying to tell a newspaper reporter all her secret spy stuff.
Somehow this makes Carrie realize that what she’s been doing – waiting for Saul to show up, trying to play the doctors, manipulate staff, etc. isn’t going to work. The only way she’s going to get out, is to get better, so she swallows her pride and asks for her meds. Mind you, we don’t really get this from the script. We get it because Claire Danes has a face that always reveals more than the dialogue.
Back in Caracas, Brody talks to a kindly looking imam, who takes him to what looks like his quarters where Mrs. Imam greets him warmly. Brody is taking a nice hot shower when he is interrupted by a couple of men in badges because sure, they’d only send over two guys to arrest a suspected terrorist with a 10 million dollar bounty.
Poor Brody, with his cleanly shaved head and a blanket-like towel wrapped around his naked body looks like a big helpless baby, which is how he’s been behaving. The imam tells him, “You are not a Muslim. You are a terrorist.” Well, good on the writers for showing us that not all Muslims are terrorist sympathizers, except that it doesn’t work out too well because some of Spidey’s boys bust in and kill the men with badges, and then they shoot Mr. and Mrs. Imam, and Brody is left cowering on the floor in a fetal position.
Spidey locks Brody up in a dark little room presumably forever, and tells him to stay away from Esme, which given that he’s locked up, seems like it would be pretty easy to do. Blanche DuBois calls him a “Naughty, naughty boy.”
Brody no longer has the ministrations of Nurse Esme, and must prepare and shoot his own heroin, which he does because like Carrie he has faced reality, except in his reality there is no way out, so why not get high?
What have we learned? If stuck on a dessert island or in a dangerous situation, Carrie has much better survival skills than Brody, who is suddenly two years old and at this rate won’t survive until next week’s episode.