Going crazy over Homeland

brody

New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum, who’s come up with an elaborate theory about the latest episode of the Showtime series Homeland (warning: spoilers below), worries that she’s turning into Carrie Mathison:

Yet I couldn’t help getting drawn in, because after some consideration, I found that I’d stumbled upon a solution—which is to say I developed a completely insane theory that explains everything. I am also prepared to defend my crazy theory at all costs, because this show is turning me into Carrie Mathison. Enough preamble. The theory is this: Nicholas Brody is faking it. He plotted with Abu Nazir to have Carrie kidnapped, so that Brody could “save” her, thus ensuring her loyalty and manipulating her into concealing their crimes (which she did, after all: she didn’t tell her bosses about the scheme to kill the Vice-President.) All that face-acting Damian Lewis was doing, with the yelling and the screaming into Skype—a notable departure from the subtlety of Lewis’s earlier performance? He knew Carrie was listening. It was an act.

Carrie Mathison is clearly in love with Brody. Brody has feelings for her, too, but he’s still capable of manipulating her (which is the same thing she’s doing to him, after all, in the name of the C.I.A.—calming him down with sex, holding his hand to reassure him.) When Nazir kidnapped Brody, during that mysterious prayer confab a few weeks back, the two came up with a plan. I’m not sure what that plan is, beyond killing the Vice-President, but it seems to involve messing with Carrie’s head—even more than she’s already been messed with.

When you think about it, my theory explains much that felt strange about “Broken Hearts.” It explains why Brody was going so over-the-top bonkers. It explains why Nazir didn’t walk away with his cell phone, to explain the pacemaker plan out of earshot of the C.I.A. operative he’d kidnapped. My theory also explains why Nazir was so willing to let Carrie go, even before Brody had given him the code: they’d scripted that element, to make it clear that Brody was motivated by love. The twist would match up perfectly with the show’s thematic fascination with behavior as performance, which goes back to Season One, when Carrie watched Brody strip and suffer on her monitors as if he were some especially juicy episode of Real World: The Patriot Act.

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