Friday, November 18, 2011

HOMELAND (Showtime, Sundays, 10pm ET): Episode 1 Scene By Scene And Character Dissection

I am giving you fair warning that this blog post is likely to include a vast number of spoilers up to episode 7, which aired on November 13, 2011.  If you have not seen that episode, and do not want your experience spoiled, I suggest you stop reading this blog post, now. 

As I stated in my Coming Soon blog post about Homeland, I am going to attempt to dissect each of the first seven episodes in regards to how they play into the pretty terrible plot twist that happened at the end of episode 7.  I have no idea how this will go, at the writing of these words, but I hope it proves to be an informative read, and hope it provides strong insight to the things I feel about the show, rightly or wrongly.  With a show like this, there’s a good chance I could be wrong about what I think, but I’m willing to put it out there, as of right now. 

Starting from the beginning of the series, through episode 6, you can begin to form conclusions about what’s going on.  However, episode 7 threw in a relatively ridiculous plot twist that calls into question nearly everything we have seen in the Homeland universe, so far.  My goal with these seven dissections is to try to figure out what might really be going on, based on what we now know with the plot twist, at the end of episode 7.  By starting from the first episode, I will hopefully begin to see whether they have framed this sort of thing properly, as part of something bigger, or if it will just turn into a chase show.  I’m hoping the idea of a long con will prove fruitful, or I will end up being extremely disappointed.

I’m going to dissect each scene, and everything each character does, and then try to provide final thoughts about how what we saw, in each episode, fits into the big picture of the first seven episodes.  I hope you enjoy what I write.  It will likely be an immense amount of work.  Some info, such as full character names and titles were lifted from Wikipedia or imdb.

Scene 1-Baghdad, Iraq

Important Characters:

Carrie Mathison-CIA Operations Officer assigned to the Counterterrorism Center
David Estes-Carrie’s boss, who is Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center
Hasan Ibrahim-Carrie’s asset, who has been in an Iraqi prison for a year, but just had a "trial" and death sentence pronounced over the period of one day. 

We begin the series with Carrie Mathison trying to get David Estes on the phone, amidst a chaotic scene in Baghdad, that is also showing the preparations for an execution.  Upon Carrie reaching Estes, we learn that the character referred to as Hasan was convicted of blowing up 129 civilians in a marketplace in Ramadi, Iraq.  Carrie knows what he did, but doesn’t care, because she believes he is holding valuable intel about an imminent attack on U.S. soil.  Estes tells her that Hasan has been dangling that information for three months.  Carrie is trying to get his sentence commuted, because she wants whatever information he can give, and feels that since he is at the end of the line that he will be more willing to talk.  She appeals her case to Estes, who says that he has no say in what the Iraqis do with him, as it is their country.  She then responds that Hasan is Abu Nazir’s bomb maker, and that, if he is executed, every piece of information he knows about the organization will be lost forever.  Estes tells her that she had her shot at him, but that it is now over.  She continues to beg Estes for intervention, but he angrily tells her to shut it down. 

Carrie continues on to the prison where Hasan is being held, in direct defiance of Estes's orders, and meets a man outside.  She tells him that Estes didn’t go for it, and that she knew he wouldn’t.  She then hands him an envelope that is full of American currency.  Carrie then refers to a man who can apparently get her into the prison to see Hasan.  The man to whom Carrie gave the money says that he doesn’t think they can trust him.  Carrie’s only interest is in seeing Hasan, so she doesn’t care whether he can be trusted.

A guard leads Carrie into the prison to see Hasan, and adamantly tells her that she has only two minutes with him, talking through a hole in his cell door.  Carrie tells Hasan that the CIA would not intervene, to which he responds that he then has nothing to say to her.  Carrie then tells Hasan that she knows his family is in hiding, afraid for their lives, and tells him that she can guarantee they get to safety in Amman, Jordan, as long as he tells her what he knows.  Hasan asks her why he should believe what she says, at which point Carrie is interrupted by her inside guard, who tells her that they have to go.  She responds that he said two minutes, even though less time than that has elapsed.  The guard seems very scared, and leaves without Carrie, prior to an onslaught of guards coming down to the cell.  She then asks Hasan why she should believe him, that he claimed to be an important man, and that he had information about an attack by Abu Nazir.  He says he does have information, and Carrie tells him to prove it, or she won’t protect his family.  Right after this, while Hasan is thinking for a moment, at least four guards break into the area to detain Carrie.  Hasan rushes to the cell door and whispers something in Carrie’s ear.  While Carrie is being detained, Hasan yells at Carrie to “promise to protect them”.

This is the first sign we get that Carrie has a major problem with authority, and is likely to do whatever she feels is necessary to do what she feels she needs to do, regardless of the collateral damage it may cause.

Scene 2 (Ten months later)-Washington, D.C., Carrie’s home

We are shown a home office, in a living room, that has a chart of the various people in Abu Nazir’s organization, including a picture of him, and we are shown various pictures and posters relating to jazz music on Carrie’s walls.  Carrie enters from an apparent out all-nighter, and proceeds to do a very rudimentary hygienic cleanse prior to heading to the office.  We see her remove a blue pill from her aspirin bottle, and take it.  Since the blue pill is in another bottle of medicine, we should assume that this was obtained illegally, or that she doesn’t want anyone to know she is taking this drug.  As she is about to leave, she takes off a “wedding” ring, and throws it into an empty bowl.

Here is where some real spoilers about the future begin.  I won’t spoil the pill until later in this episode, but I will spoil the personality trait they are showing in regards to her behavior.  Apparently, Carrie is likely a very hard drinker, and engages in a lot of reckless behavior (as evidenced by going into the prison with a man that cannot be trusted).  We will learn the purpose of her wearing of the "wedding" ring later in this episode.

Scene 3-Carrie driving to the CIA

While driving, Carrie shakes her head as if she is extremely tired.  Based on the events of the previous scene, it is now clear that she has been out all night.  Based on her attire, in the previous scene, she was likely not working all night.  Due to that, we should assume she was out all night for pleasure.

Scene 4-CIA

Estes is leading a briefing, and Carrie walks in, obviously late.  Carrie’s lateness is pointed out by Estes, and he asks her why she is the only analyst in that section that can’t get to a briefing on time.  He then tells her that he wanted the whole group to hear what he has to say.  In the briefing, Estes proceeds to say that, on a Delta Force mission, an American prisoner of war had been found, Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, who was MIA since early 2003, and was presumed dead.  Carrie asks what happened to his partner, Corporal Thomas Walker, as snipers work in pairs, who also went missing that day.  Estes responds that Brody said Walker was killed during their captivity.  Estes proceeds to tell everyone that it was a job well done, and that, because of them, an American hero is coming home.  While everyone is applauding, Carrie has a very disturbed look on her face, and ominous piano based music begins to play.  It is at this point that I would like to point out the similarity of the music from this series to a movie.  That movie is The Game, a fantastic David Fincher movie, from 1997, starring Michael Douglas.  I believe the underscore, that has piano in it, plays an important role in the series, and that the series shows some flashes that are very similar to that movie’s blurring of what is real, and what is not.  I have no idea whether it is an intentional homage, but it is something I plan on pointing out, every time we see or hear something that reminds me of that movie.  Carrie then exits the briefing, without being dismissed, and Estes has a rather disappointed look on his face.

An important thing to take from this scene is that while Carrie is late, she is obviously hyper-prepared.  She seems to remember the names of two people who went missing 8 years ago.  Either she is an unbelievable fountain of knowledge, or there is a reason she knows who these particular POWs were, off the top of her head.

Scene 5-Location unknown

Important Character Introduction:

Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody-see character description in Scene 4

We see a very pale, long haired, long bearded, Brody, who has recently showered, based on the steam on the mirror he is looking into.  In this brief scene, we see him clipping the longer hairs off of his beard with scissors.

Scene 6-In a mall at the CIA

Important Character Introduction:

Saul Berenson-CIA Middle-East Division Chief, who is also Carrie’s old boss, and mentor

I know it is unorthodox to refer to people by their first names, so I want to explain my usage of first or last names.  For anyone in high authority (such as David Estes), or the military, I will use last names, but for people we are meant to identify with, on a day to day level, I will use first names.  I hope that’s not too confusing. 

At the beginning of this scene, Saul asks Carrie exactly what words were used that she heard from Hasan.  She says, “An American prisoner of war has been turned.”  Saul asks her if Hasan said this in English.  She tells him that he did, after which Saul questions the use of the word “turned”.  Carrie replies that “turned” meant that the POW was working for Abu Nazir.  Saul then asks Carrie why he is just hearing about this now, 10 months after she was told.  She tells him that, until ten minutes ago, she didn’t know there were any POWs alive in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Saul begins to say something about Abu Nazir, when two people walk by.  He immediately stops talking, and waits until they pass.  Saul then asks Carrie if she is suggesting that Abu Nazir planted intelligence on his own safe house, just so the CIA could recover Sergeant Brody.  She says that she realizes that is a reach, to which Saul agrees, by saying “to say the least”.  Saul proceeds to give better scenarios for ways to do the same thing, without sacrificing 13 trained fighters.  Carrie then says that the reason Abu Nazir would be doing this is for the “long game”, and that no one will suspect a thing.  Saul replies, “Except you.”  Carrie says yes, and then proceeds to try to talk Saul into authorizing a surveillance package on Brody, as he is returning from Germany in 22 hours.  Saul tells her that Estes will never authorize that.  Carrie replies, "Of course he won’t", saying that the White House needs a poster boy for the war, and that Estes just served Brody up on a platter.  She tells Saul that is why she is coming to him.  Saul tells her that he’s not going to go over Estes’s head, not on a hunch.  Carrie proceeds to tell him that if she’s right, and he is a terrorist, they need to have eyes and ears on him from the minute he steps off the plane.  Saul, rather angrily, tells her this is out of the question.  Carrie then asks what she has to do to make it happen.  Saul tells her that she needs to give him some kind of proof, or to give him a reason to at least doubt its authenticity.  She tells him that she is in the “penalty box”, that she is 5000 miles away from her contacts, and that she can’t collect intelligence from behind a desk.  Saul tells her to find a way.  She gives him a disappointed look, to which Saul says, “Don’t look at me that way.  We’re all fighting the same enemy here.”  After a frustrated look from Carrie, the scene ends.

This is a very important scene in the progression of the Carrie character.  We have already established that she has a problem with authority, she’s late to briefings, and she is willing to do pretty much anything to get what she wants.  With the introduction of Saul, we find that Carrie apparently has a confidant.  He knows that Carrie is somewhat of a loose cannon, and he is tasked with making sure she doesn’t get out of line.  He also appears to genuinely like Carrie, and appears to want her to succeed.  This relationship, as the series progresses, gets tested frequently, and will ultimately lead to a very large fracture.  It’s obvious that Carrie is very good at her job, or her flaws would have gotten her kicked out of the CIA.  Trying to go over Estes’s head, to get what she wants, is a very telling portrait of her character.

Scene 7-Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany

Brody is getting prepared for his de-brief, with a haircut and shave.  When he is informed that they are ready for his de-brief, Brody replies that he wants to call his wife first.

Scene 8-U.S. Marine Captain Mike Faber’s bedroom

Important Character Introductions:

Jessica Brody-Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody’s wife
U.S. Marine Captain Mike Faber-Brody’s Commanding Officer and best friend

Right after Brody says that he wants to call his wife, we immediately cut to a scene that has Brody’s wife having sex with his best friend (this is a spoiler, because his name is never mentioned in this scene).  Luckily, they finish before Jessica receives the call from her husband.  She is obviously shocked at the hearing of her husband’s voice, since she presumed he was dead.  As Faber and Jessica are getting dressed, Faber asks Jessica to talk to her, and to tell him that she is okay.  Jessica tells him that she is a long way from okay, touches him on the shoulder, and leaves.

A large part of the overall dramatic conflict, in the first seven episodes of the series, comes from this relationship, and the re-entering of Brody back into both of their lives.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize how wrong it is that Jessica and Faber end up in a relationship.  The stark realization has come to both of them that it is eventually going to be found out that Jessica has been sleeping with her husband’s best friend.  There will be a long, slow, burn with this plot point, even though it’s pretty clear Brody knew what was going on fairly quickly.

Scene 9-The Brody house

Important Character Introductions:

Chris Brody-Sergeant Brody's son
Dana Brody-Sergeant Brody's daughter

With the stark realization that her life is about to be turned upside down, Jessica returns home, and her 12 year old son, Chris, is in the living room, playing a war based video game.   Chris is surprised to see her, and says, "I thought you were at the movies with Joey".  That's an important piece of information, since we never got the name of the person Jessica was in bed with, in the previous scene.  A concerned Chris is dragged to his sister's bedroom, by Jessica.  It is there that we find (16 year old?) Dana smoking a bong with Xander, one of her stoner friends, and that Chris knew she was doing this.

Jessica ejects him from the house, and takes Xander's bong.  Dana asks why her mom is making such a big deal about this, and Jessica replies, "Gee, Dana, I don't know.  It's either the lying or the drugs.  You're supposed to be looking after your brother."  Dana retorts that he didn't burn down the house, and Jessica asks Dana why she can't ever do what she says she's going to do.  During this fight, Chris interrupts Jessica, and reminds her that she had something important to tell them.  We then cut to a shot of a private jet.

There are a few important things to note here. Jessica has not told her kids that she is having a relationship with Brody's best friend.  Dana has major authority problems, in addition to what appears to be at least the beginnings of a substance abuse problem.  She also has a lack of boundaries and a lack of respect for her mom (doing drugs in the house is an insane touch).  In future episodes, you will find out that Dana knew Jessica was sleeping with Brody's best friend, and that part of her maladjustment is likely coming from feeling like her dad was forgotten by her mom.  Chris was probably too young to remember his dad, so he doesn't really understand anything about what's going on.  I almost missed that there was an important piece of business in the establishing shot of Jessica driving to the house.  There is no yellow ribbon tied around the tree in the front yard.

Scene 10-Private jet

In this short scene Major General Tony Trujillo tells Brody what he can expect when they land in about two hours.  His life, once he is introduced to the Vice President, is about to become a media circus, though he will be allowed to spend a little time with his family, first.

Scene 11-Brody house

It is here that we learn Chris does not really remember his dad, during the preparation for the going to meet Brody scene.  Everyone is a bit uncomfortable with this, and Jessica even goes so far as to practice her re-introduction to Brody, in the mirror.  Dana walks in, and says that they need to go, and also asks her mom if she is really going to "wear that dress".  While walking to the car, Chris remarks that Jessica looks pretty.

It's a minor scene, but there are two points worth noting.  The first is that Dana is, in a way, playing the mom, by being responsible for time.  When coupled with her introduction, where she was again "playing a mom", we get the idea that Jessica is more absent than present, in this family.  We are also told that this is not the attire that Jessica has typically worn since giving up hope that Brody will return home alive. 

Scene 12-Jessica's car leaves

As we see Jessica's family leaving, she passes a Ballard Home Communications van, with a man standing at the back of the van's open door.  Once Jessica's car is out of view, the man says, "Let's go", to his partner.  As we are watching them walk toward the Brody house, we have a brief camera pause on the tree outside of the Brody house.  There is now a yellow ribbon around it.  The implication is that there was once a yellow ribbon, but through the passing of time, it had been taken down.  For those reading this who are not from the United States, this is a symbol of showing support for the troops. 

The men break into the house, and disable the alarm, with a code they were provided.  They begin to set up a surveillance operation.  At this point, we see Carrie standing outside the back door.  She is let in by the man who told his partner that it was time to begin, at the van.  She tells him they have 30 minutes, to which he replies, "Good to see you, too, Carrie".  When Carrie enters the living room, she notices his partner, and is very upset to see him.  The man tells her to relax, and says that he is his brother, Max.  She asks what happened to Nick and Eddie.  The man tells her they are out of her price range, and that he told her for a grand a day that it was going to be bare bones.  She looks upset, and trades mistrusting glances with Max.  The man says if she's got a bad feeling about this, that they can just stop, right now, before they get started.  After thinking a moment, Carrie tells him "eyes and ears in every room, then it's back to my place to set up the monitors".

This scene is extremely important, because Carrie has been told, in no uncertain terms, by Saul, that she must not do unauthorized surveillance on Brody.  Proving that Carrie just does what she wants, she actually decides to pay for the surveillance of Brody out of her own pocket.  She also enlists others who could be looking at long prison sentences, if this is ever found out, and treats them like crap, despite the massive risk they are undertaking.

Scene 13-Private jet/Edwards Air Force Base

We are treated to a shot of Brody vomiting over the airplane toilet.  We then cut to the outside of the door, where Trujillo is listening.  Immediately after, Trujillo is on the phone with Estes, asking if the ceremony can be delayed, to which Estes replies, "not without looking like a complete asshole", because, as Trujillo says, Brody was currently "in the head, puking his guts out".  Estes tells Trujillo that he thought the Army docs gave Brody a complete psych evaluation.  Trujillo tells him they did, and Estes asks him what the problem is.  Trujillo replies, "I don't know, David, maybe 8 years at the bottom of a hole had something to do with it."  Estes tells Trujillo that the Vice President is arriving as they speak, and that he needs Brody smiling and waving like he's a hero, like it's the Macy's Day Parade.  After he says a much saltier version of what I just wrote, he hangs up without waiting for a response.  We return to a shot of Brody finishing up "puking his guts out", and then it cuts from the scene.

I find a few things in this scene to be worth talking about.  The first is that we find out that Brody had gone through a complete psych eval, with the Army doctors.  Is the psych eval in preparation for him coming home, or is it for something else?  I also find it interesting that Trujillo refers to Estes as "David".  This shows that they have some kind of prior history, together.  The last thing to note is that Estes uses these exact words, "like a hero".  I find that word choice fascinating, because you would think he would perceive Brody to be a hero, not "like a hero".  There seems to be a much larger undercurrent to this scene when put into the larger context of the first seven episodes.

Scene 14-Brody's arrival at Edwards Air Force Base (the terminal)

We begin the scene with a shot of Jessica watching the TV that is displaying the news about Brody's arrival.  She looks very nervous, and the framing of the wide shot suggests that the family is on an island, for what is about to happen.  It is probably also worth noting that Dana appears to be trying to be sitting as far away from her mom, as possible, while still being in the chair next to her.  She does not like her mom, if the other scenes weren't enough of an indication.

After this, there is a brief walk and talk between the Vice President and Estes.  The Vice President tells Estes that the President asked the Vice President to thank him, personally, and says that he thinks the short list for the CIA Directorship just got a lot shorter.  Estes tells the Vice President that he appreciates the consideration, not that he's pushing for it.  The Vice President says, "Sure you are".

We cut back to Jessica nervously pacing, waiting for Brody's arrival.  Trujillo then enters with Brody, and the family stands up to greet him, but no one rushes to meet each other.  After a very long, awkward, pause between all of the people, Jessica finally rushes over and hugs Brody.  The kids slowly move over to where Jessica and Brody are.  Dana is the first tell her dad hi.  She asks how his trip was, to which he replies, "Look at how beautiful you are".  She smiles, and they hug.  Brody then acknowledges Chris, who extends his hand for a handshake.  They shake hands, and Dana awkwardly tells Chris to hug him.  Brody then asks where his mom is.  No words are needed for Brody to deduce that she has passed (4 years ago).  After this brief meeting, Trujillo interrupts, and tells Brody that the Vice President is there.

The Vice President enters and greets Sergeant Brody, telling him it is an honor.  Brody has a difficult time looking into the Vice President's eyes.  The scene ends.

The most important thing to note in this scene is that Estes is now near the top of a short list for a huge promotion.  This means that he obviously has a lot at stake with Brody (however you want to take that).  He tries to act humble at the suggestion he could get the position, but the Vice President knows he is ambitious, and likely power hungry.  The interaction with the family is likely relatively accurate, as it is really hard to know how someone will react to someone re-entering their lives in such dramatic fashion, 8 years later.  It gives us the idea that there are probably going to be some bumps adjusting to their new lives. 

Scene 15-The Ceremony

While Brody is walking to the podium, we see three distinct emotions.  The first is likely confusion about what is going on, the second is him basically comfortably winking at someone he passes, and the third is that he has a PTSD moment, when a camera flashes near him.  Jessica asks him if he is okay, and he replies that he is.  The Vice President begins the ceremony, and we see a brief shot of Faber, looking bummed.

I'm not sure it's worth noting, but as Brody is walking to the podium, there is a brief shot of Trujillo beginning to lean over to talk to Estes, with a "you sure about this" look on his face.  The most important part of this scene is that it is Brody's first re-adjustment to his new life.  The second is that Jessica's unnamed boyfriend, at this point, knows that his relationship with her has been altered forever.

Scene 16-Carrie's home/The Ceremony

We enter the scene with Carrie watching Brody's homecoming on TV.  There are multiple intercuts between Carrie watching, from home, and the actual ceremony.  Brody gives a standard speech, but nearly everything important in this scene is going on visually, or through audio.

I'm not sure what it means, but while Carrie is watching Brody, she gets a concerned look on her face, and the audio begins to get smaller, and has echo added to it.  This effect only lasts for a moment.  When Brody mentions how appreciative he is of his family's strength in his absence, Jessica gets an embarrassed look on her face, as we know what she's been up to.  After that shot, they cut to a disappointed Faber.  As Brody says the words "undying faith that this day would come", we realize how wrong this statement is.  Jessica waited, until it was convenient not to wait any longer.  I believe we get distinct expressions of shame from both Jessica and Faber, when Brody says this.  He finishes his speech by saying he is a lucky man, which produces more looks of shame from Jessica.

At the end of the scene, the unnamed surveillance guy passes Carrie, and says, "Guy's got game".  Carrie nods.

Scene 17-Surveillance set up at Carrie's home

At the beginning of the scene, Carrie grabs her laptop and walks out of the room.  She asks the unnamed surveillance guy how long it will be until he's set up.  He tells her that everything should be set up by the time Brody gets home.  As she's walking away, she nearly runs into Max, and casts him yet another mistrusting glance.  After she walks away, Max asks his brother how long he's known Carrie.  I'll put down the exact dialog from the scene, to give it maximum impact.

Max: So, uh, you and Carrie, how long you guys known each other?
Max's brother:  Long enough.
Max: I'd kind of feel a lot better if I had a clear picture about who we're dealing with.  We are breaking like 12 federal laws.
Max's brother: Oh you would, would you?  Clearer picture?  Why don't you shut the f**k up, and get back to work, okay?
(Max turns to walk away)
Max's brother: Hey. I'm sorry.  Um, Let's just say that she's a little intense.
Max: Yeah?
Max's brother:  Yeah.

At that point, Max produces a blue pill, and says that it's what Carrie hides in her aspirin bottle, instead of aspirin.  Max says that he felt a migraine coming on, just in case there was any suspicion for why he would be going into Carrie's aspirin bottle.

That scene gave us more ammunition that Carrie does not play nice with people.  She is paranoid, and she is hard to work with.  With the production of the pill, we learn that drugs could play some role in her personality defects.  We also got the basic exposition that what they are doing, in regards to this unauthorized surveillance, is breaking 12 federal laws.  This is a big deal.  This is now officially a rogue operation, if we were ever unclear about it.  The law breaking has already happened.  There is no turning back, now. 

Scene 18-After the ceremony

We see Jessica's boyfriend sitting in a car as the family walks out of the building, and Brody says he wants to drive.  Jessica tries to talk him out of it, but Dana talks her in to giving him the keys.  It is at this point that Jessica's boyfriend greets Brody.  Brody greets him as "Mike", and it's clear that they have a strong friendship, based on the hug they have.  Brody says to Faber (while pointing at his rank), "Is this for real? You stayed in?"  Faber says, "Military Intelligence (Brody gives him a look).  I know, right?  Me of all people, huh?"  Brody asks about Faber's wife, who we learn has divorced him.  We see another embarrassed look from Jessica, and Faber lets Brody know that he is also there, unfortunately, for business purposes.  Langley wants him to come in for a follow up to his de-brief in Germany.  When told this, Brody gets a vacant look on his face, though it is treated as nothing special in the shooting.  Jessica asks when, and is pretty upset when she is told it is tomorrow, since Brody has just gotten home.  Faber explains that "this guy Estes" wants it done sooner rather than later.  Brody tells Jessica it is okay, that he would rather just get it over with.  As Brody says this, he grasps Jessica's hand.  Faber is clearly uncomfortable with seeing that display of affection, since just a few short days ago, he was Jessica's boyfriend.  Faber and Brody get really friendly, again, and it's obvious these guys were once really close friends.  By the end of the scene, you can see more awkwardness from Jessica, and Brody smiles at her.  The scene ends.

I didn't realize how important this scene potentially is, until watching it this time.  We learned that Faber is in Military Intelligence, which is something I was unaware of from my previous viewings of the series.  You'll have to stay tuned for my thoughts on that.  As a bigger picture thing, the most important thing is that we actually find out the identity of Jessica's boyfriend.  To find out that he was once a close friend, and possibly best friend, of Brody, is a major plot development.  This is officially a love triangle, and we are only seeing the beginnings of the brutal dance all three are going to be doing with each other.  I find the words "me of all people" to also be fascinating.  This gives us one of two ideas.  The first is that Faber was not a career military man, and that him staying in for another stretch is unorthodox.  The second is that it is ironic that he ended up in Military Intelligence, as it probably doesn't reconcile with the belief system that Brody knows he has.  It's too early to tell, even after seven episodes, what the answer is.  However, based on what we've learned about Brody, in the first seven episodes, I am leaning toward Military Intelligence not reconciling with the belief system Brody feels Faber has.

Scene 19-Brody drives home/Carrie's home

As Brody arrives home, there is a throng of people waiting outside.  This is the first moment that Dana realizes they are famous.  We then cut to Carrie watching the broadcast of Brody arriving home.  She angrily tells Max's brother that he told her it would be ready by the time Brody arrived home.  He tells her that it is a minor glitch, and to give him a minute.  Upon arriving at home, Brody says that they painted the house.  Chris says that Mike's brother did it, which leads to a slightly shocked expression on Brody's face, and a slightly scared expression on Jessica's face.  Jessica quickly cleans it up by saying that Mike's brother is a contractor, and that he gave them a really great rate.

Just so there is no more confusion, from this point forward, I am going to refer to Faber as Mike, as that is how he is mostly referred to, in the series.

Once they pull up to the house, everyone gets out of the car except Brody.  It could be due to the limelight he's about to be facing, or it could be because he realizes that his wife has been up to something with Mike.  I'm going with the latter.  As they are walking to the front door, a photographer asks if he can get a group shot of them by the yellow ribbon.  The family agrees, and they take a photo next to the tree that did not have a yellow ribbon on it, the other night.

After the photo opportunity, we cut to Carrie on the phone with Saul.  Carrie says that she's having trouble collecting the intel he said she needs, and asks him to get her into the Brody de-brief.  Saul asks her what good can come from that, to which she responds that she is a trained interrogator, and she wants to ask him a few questions, to poke around his story a little.  Saul tells her that Estes was very specific that the de-brief would include Principals only.  At this point, Carrie says that Estes is just punishing her (Max's brother has a look of surprise and interest on his face upon hearing this), and not only for what happened in Baghdad.  Saul asks her if she blames him, and she tells him that she doesn't, but that it shouldn't be personal.  She proceeds to say that she belongs in that room.  Saul asks her if she will behave herself.  At that point, some of the surveillance equipment goes online, and causes audible feedback on the line, distracting Carrie.  Saul asks Carrie to promise she will raise no eyebrows in the meeting, and Carrie eventually promises that.  After a long pause, Saul says she can have her face time with Sergeant Brody.  They hang up, and Saul walks away saying, "Aw Christ!"  This is the first indication that Saul knows Carrie is up to something, and he is upset about it.

After the phone call is over, all of the surveillance goes online, as we see Brody enter the house.  Carrie quickly becomes engrossed in the scene, and Max's brother has to ask her twice when she wants him to return.  She tells him that she needs to be in the office at 9, so he should be there at 8.

Carrie continues watching the surveillance for hours, as is shown by a time passage to night.

Key things to mention about that long scene are these.  First, Brody at least has some kind of inkling that Jessica has been up to something with Mike.  He's not ready to admit it, yet, but he is certainly suspicious.  Saul appears to be very concerned about Carrie screwing up, and rocking the boat in regards to the new "hero", Brody.  He probably finds it at least a little suspicious that she needs to be in that meeting, to try to gather the intel she would need to get an authorized surveillance going.  It was really handled subtly, in the scene, but Saul's a very smart guy, and seemed to get that the feedback he heard was related to potential surveillance that he absolutely forbade her from doing.  His realization of this probably makes him understand how much his head is on the line, by backing Carrie up, which would explain his reaction.  I also feel there is a certain amount of manipulation of Carrie that he is doing.  He scolds her, like a child, and makes her promise to play nice in the de-brief.  By him saying that, it almost seems like he is encouraging her to not play nice.  Knowing what's gone on in the first seven episodes, I find it highly likely that he was hoping she would go in and make noise in the de-brief.  Finally, it's also a bizarre touch that Carrie becomes so thoroughly engrossed in things that are so mundane, during the surveillance.

Scene 20-Carrie's night surveillance/The Brodys have sex

Carrie is doing surveillance, and sees that Jessica is preparing to have sex with Brody.  Jessica is in lingerie, and again practices how the interaction will go, while Brody is in the shower.  The phone rings, and no one says anything on the other end, eventually hanging up.  Upon getting out of the shower, Brody (fully dressed), asks who was on the phone.  Jessica says that he scared her, which immediately makes Brody suspicious.  When she gathers her composure, she tells him that it was nobody, and that they hung up.  His suspicion subsides, and he comments on how beautiful she looks.  She acts flattered, and offers him some wine.  He then realizes that she is attempting to seduce him, and says a few mildly humorous things.  He can't stop staring at Jessica, and remarks how he likes her in her nightgown.  She responds that her mother wore a nightgown, this is a negligee.  He proceeds to stare at her more, embarrassing her slightly, and she again offers him wine.  He agrees to have a drink.  He goes to the wine bottle, stares at it, breathes heavy, and Jessica comes over to take a tag off of his pajama bottoms.  He is startled by her coming up on him like that, and is visibly disturbed by it.

After calming Brody down, Jessica attempts to steer Brody toward what she wants to happen.  As they are beginning to get hot and heavy, there is a cut that shows Carrie is watching them prepare to have sex.  Jessica goes to remove Brody's shirt and he tries to stop her.  It is too late, and she sees the numerous scars he has from being tortured for 8 years.  She is, understandably, very disturbed by this, and Brody tries to calm her down, after her bad reaction.  This has obviously ruined the mood, and Jessica says, "I'm sorry" multiple times.  Based on what we already know, there are many meanings to what she is sorry about, and they all apply, in this scene.  After Brody puts her at ease, she immediately starts trying to amp up the action, again.  Brody's facial expression is hard to comprehend.  It looks somewhere between disturbed and disgusted that he is doing this with her.  Again, we cut back to Carrie watching all of this (highly inappropriate for her to do this).  There is a jump cut montage, showing Jessica and Brody making out.  In about half of the shots, it appears that Brody is pulling away from Jessica kissing him.  He eventually puts her on the bed, and begins to have sex with her.  Unfortunately, for Jessica, what he does is not acceptable.  He is extremely rough, and appears to be bordering on raping her.  There is no love in the act, for Brody.  Carrie, still watching, finds what is going on to be very disturbing, and appears to want to stop watching.  She takes off her headphones, and briefly looks away.  After less than a moment, she begins watching again, and puts her headphones back on.  Brody "finishes", and you can see Jessica crying from what has just happened, probably both out of pain and shock for what she just experienced.  Brody closes his eyes, like he wishes this whole situation would go away.  Neither of them looks at each other, and Jessica breaks down into tears.

For a "love" scene, this scene had a lot going on in it that ties into future episodes.  Get your spoiler hat on, because I'm going to begin ruining a lot of the future episodes for you.  Something that is very important to note is that Jessica is "acting" when she's around Brody.  We notice this three times.  The first is when she was practicing meeting him for the first time.  The second is the dress she was wearing to meet him.  The third is that she was practicing how she wanted to set up their first intimate encounter, since his return.  Jessica is trying hard to get things back to what they were before Brody was captured, but her mind is always going to return to Mike.  This is the large problem in the Brody marriage.  The right thing for Jessica to have done would have been to tell Brody about her and Mike.  You can't imagine he would be happy about it, but there would be a certain amount of understanding (minus that it was his best friend).  Each day she waits to tell him is a day that their marriage will devolve into a film noir.

There are two things that happen during Carrie's surveillance.  The first is that a phone rings.  That's important, and becomes even more important when no one says anything.  The identity of this caller is possibly important.  The second thing that happens is that Carrie is watching.  There's no real reason why she should be watching two people getting intimate with each other.  Her reactions were almost that she knows him.  It's strange, to say the least.  You will notice Carrie being a voyeur in other inappropriate ways, as the series goes on.

For Brody, the most interesting aspect of the scene is that he did not really want to drink wine.  People who devoutly practice Islam do not drink alcohol.  I noticed the conflict over the wine in my first viewing of the show.  It is the first sign that Brody is now a Muslim.  What I don't understand is Brody's treatment of his wife during the sex scene.  It quickly devolves into something more similar to rape, and he apparently has major issues with getting intimate with Jessica, as shown with the kissing scene.  We don't know, yet, whether this has to do with his suspicions about her and Mike, or if it is something else.

Scene 21-Surveillance shift change

Max's brother wakes up a sleeping Carrie.  She asks what time it is, and when he tells her 8:15, she freaks out that she is late for the de-brief.  She tells Max's brother that there were two calls, and that both were hang ups.  Max's brother asks if the number showed up on the tracer, and she said the numbers were blocked, and asks if there is a way to get them.  Max's brother replies, "No, not without a subpoena."  At this moment, we find out Max's brother's name.  It is Virgil.  She tells Virgil that if someone tries to contact Brody, it will only happen once.  He reminds her that they have it covered, and that they'll be there, when it happens.  As Carrie goes to get ready, we see her take another one of the blue pills from the aspirin bottle.

Scene 22-De-Brief follow up of Brody at the CIA

Estes thanks Brody for his service, and tells him that many of the people in the room were involved in the operation that resulted in his rescue, and that they take an extra measure of pride in welcoming him there.  Estes tells him that they have all read the de-brief in Germany, and that they just have a few more questions that might help them in their ongoing fight against Al-Qaeda.  This de-brief follow up is being recorded on videotape.  Various people are introduced, and ask Brody questions, in montage.  We eventually get to Carrie, who says she worked as a Case Officer in Iraq.  She tells him that his picture was on their MIA wall, that she saw it every day for 5 years, that it is good to meet him in person, and apologizes for not finding him sooner.

Carrie proceeds to grill Brody about what he was interrogated about, to which Brody responds that he had excellent SEER training, and did not give up any of the information they interrogated him about.  She then asks whether Corporal Walker gave up any information.  Brody is taken aback by this question, and he tells her that they were never interrogated at the same time, so he doesn't know.  Carrie asks him if he ever wondered about whether Walker gave up any information after he learned of Walker's death.  At that point, Estes interrupts Carrie and says that he is assuming there is a point to all of this.  Carrie says there is, and talks about how the first 72 hours a prisoner of war is interrogated can lead to devastating consequences, if the prisoner is broken.  Her reason for the line of questioning is that Brody stopped being a source of actionable intelligence relatively quickly, but that Brody was kept alive for almost 8 years.  Her point is that she wants to ask him if he knows why.  Brody responds that he often wondered that himself.  Carrie then asks him who his interrogator was, and he tells her that it was an Al-Qaeda Commander named Zayyadi (sp?), at least that's what he said his name was.  Both Carrie and Estes seem surprised that Brody would use this name.  Carrie then passes Brody a file, and asks if the man in the photos inside is him.  Brody looks at the photos, and says no.  Carrie asks him if he knows who he is.  Brody says he knows who it is, because all Marines were briefed on high value targets.  Carrie asks if he ever met him.  Brody says, "Abu Nazir?"  Carrie immediately asks Brody if Abu Nazir was ever present at any of his interrogations.  Brody replies that he wasn't.  Carrie asks him to look again.

At this point, we are led into a flashback where Brody is hung by his wrists naked.  He is let down to the ground, and we see that Abu Nazir offers him water to drink.  This is the first overt moment where Brody is shown to be a liar.  After the flashback, Brody sits silently, when asked again by Carrie whether he had met Abu Nazir.  He pops out of his trance like state, and says that he never met him.  Carrie is extremely confused by this, and asks him if Walker ever mentioned Abu Nazir.  Brody says he did not.  Carrie asks him again, if he is sure.  Estes then interrupts her, asking how many times the man has to answer the question.  Carrie says she is surprised that he never met Abu Nazir, because he was in charge of conducting attacks against Coalition forces, at the time, and she can't understand why he wouldn't want to meet the only two American POWs in custody.  Estes responds that apparently he didn't.  Carrie looks perturbed, and Brody has a very vacant look on his face.  Estes asks if there are any other questions, and a flustered Carrie says no.  The de-brief continues with Carrie staring confusedly at Brody, while he has a vacant look on his face.

The important things about this scene are that Carrie did, in fact, rock the boat in the de-brief follow up, as Saul instructed her not to, and that Brody is a liar.  Of secondary importance is that both Carrie and Estes were very surprised at the mention of the name Zayyadi (sp?). 

Scene 23-The Brody house

Dana and Chris arrive home from school, and Jessica asks for their help in prepping for a barbecue for Brody's unit.  Dana asks her mom if she has to be there.  Her mom asks her why everything has to be a problem with her, to which Dana replies that she was just asking a question.  Jessica then says to Dana that she knows things haven't always been easy between her and Dana, but that they all have to find a way to be there for each other, now.  Dana agrees, a phone rings, and Jessica tells Dana to clean the grill.

On the other end of the phone is Brody.  Brody is in a limousine, and Jessica asks how the de-brief follow up went.  He tells her that he is still at Langley, and she asks how long it will be.  He tells her that it will only be an hour or two.

The idea of acting comes up, again, in this scene.  Jessica is clearly not happy, but she is doing what she can to try to save the marriage.  She wants all the petty b.s. between her and Dana to end, and Dana actually appears to understand why.  The second aspect of the scene is that Brody calls her, and overtly lies, again.  That's twice over the period of two scenes.  Again, we are being led to believe that Brody is up to something.  Virgil hears this conversation in the surveillance (whether he knows about Brody's lie, about his location, is another unresolved issue), and takes off his headphones.

Scene 24-Phone conversation between Carrie and Virgil

Carrie is watching footage of Brody, at the welcome ceremony, when Virgil calls her.  She asks if he has anything, and he tells her that Brody just lied to his wife.  Max alerted Virgil, who was tailing Brody's limo, that he had left Langley, but that Brody told the driver to drop him off at Bluemont Park.  From that, Virgil deduced that Brody lied to his wife.  Carrie thinks this is the moment of contact, and leaves the office. 

Scene 25-Estes and Saul walk and talk

Estes sees Saul, and begins to talk to him.  Saul says that he is late for a meeting off-campus.  Estes proceeds to ask Saul about Carrie being in the de-brief follow up.  He asks Saul if it was his idea or Carrie's idea.  He responds that it was Carrie's idea, and that he's surprised Estes didn't want her there himself, since she was the only person in the section who had actually been to Iraq.  Estes tells Saul that he doesn't have a problem with her resume, he has a problem with her temperament.  Saul asks Estes what happened, and Estes tells him that she turned a routine follow up into a cross-examination, and tried to connect Brody to Abu Nazir.  Estes repeats that it is always about Abu Nazir with her.  Here's a direct transcription of the next part of their conversation.

Saul:  I won't deny, she can be a little obsessive on the subject.
Estes:  Is there something I should know, Saul?
Saul:  Not that I'm aware of.
Estes:  Because the last time I heard it like this, she bribed her way into an Iraqi prison, caused an international crisis.
Saul:  I appreciate your concern.  Carrie has learned her lesson, and we both know how good she is.
Estes:  What did I tell you, when I agreed to give her one more chance?
Saul:  You said only if I agreed to do the babysitting.
Estes:  I said it would end badly.  For both of you.  You've got a big blind spot where she's concerned.  Trust me, I did, too.  Now, my wife lives in Palm Beach, and I only see my kids twice a year.

Wow, that was a lot of plot dropped in that scene.  We learn that Carrie is officially on probation, and was on the verge of being kicked out of the Agency.  Saul thinks she has high value to the Agency, so he agreed to babysit her.  Estes predicted that it would end badly for both of them, if Saul agreed to chaperone her.  As we can already see, from the ways she has already begun to undermine Saul, Estes is probably right.  In this scene, we also learn that Saul is prone to being manipulated by Carrie, and that Estes was, too.  We also have a full understanding that Estes had an affair with Carrie, that resulted in his divorce.  The most important piece of information in the scene is that Estes suspects Carrie could be on a clandestine operation, based on her past history in Iraq, and that if she is, Saul knows about it.  Saul may have suspicions that she is doing her own thing (such as the feedback in the phone call), but has no proof, yet.  I suspect his "meeting" that he is late for has to do with investigating what Carrie's up to.

Scene 26-Bluemont Park

Important Character Introduction:

Helen Walker-Corporal Thomas Walker's wife

Brody sits on a bench in the middle of the park.  We see the Ballard Home Communications van, and we cut inside to Carrie watching Brody, with Max.  Virgil was out attempting to fix an audio problem.  Shortly after Virgil joins them, we have a sighting of someone approaching Brody.

Brody asks the woman why she had to contact him through Mike, and why she didn't just contact him directly.  She says that she did, twice, but hung up, both times.  We now know this was the unknown caller.  When asked why she hung up, she tells Brody that Jessica hates her because she remarried, and that she took it like it was a personal insult, like Helen had publicly given up hope that Brody and her husband (Corporal Walker) were still alive.  Upon hearing this, everyone in the van realizes this isn't a contact, but Carrie tells them to keep recording.  Evidently the Marines reported that both Brody and Walker were dead, but are now refusing to give her any information about what happened to her husband.  Brody asks her what she wants to know.  She tells Brody that she wants to know how Tom died.  Brody tells her that he is gone, and asks her if it really matters how it happened.  She tells him that it does, to her.

We then cut to a flashback, with a very bloodied Walker being restrained.  After that shot, Brody tells her that Walker was beaten to death.  Helen asks Brody if he was there.  Brody gets a vacant look on his face, and we return to flashback.  We hear the impact of punches, but do not see who is throwing them.  We see Brody standing in the room, looking at Walker.  In the shot of him, Brody's body is shaking, but he otherwise does not appear to be moving.  After we return from flashback, he pauses briefly, and tells her that he was not there.  Here we have the third instance, in the third scene in a row, of Brody overtly lying.  I already know what really happened, but my initial gut instinct told me that Brody was throwing the punches that killed Walker, in my initial viewing.  Helen thanks Brody for telling her, and we cut back to the van.

Realizing there is nothing here, Carrie says she is going home, but Virgil stops her to talk.  Virgil asks Max to step out of the van, and he obliges, when asked a second time.  Once Max steps out of the van, Virgil produces one of Carrie's blue pills, and tells her that he didn't think it was any of his business.  However, upon finding out what it is (Clozapine), he decided it was his business.  Carrie is shocked by this, and here is a transcription of their conversation.

Carrie:  (sarcastically) I'm sorry.  Was I supposed to say something?
Virgil:  Just tell me I'm not out here risking Federal Prison on behalf of a crazy person.
Carrie:  I am crazy.
Virgil:  It's not funny.  If anybody at the Agency finds out about this.
Carrie:  I've got a mood disorder, okay?
Virgil:  I looked it up, Carrie!  Clozapine's an anti-psychotic!
Carrie:  I'm dealing with it.  I've been dealing with it since I was 22.
Virgil:  Does Saul know?
Carrie:  (laughs with kind of a crazy look on her face) No, nobody does.  Don't act so shocked, I mean it can't come as a complete surprise.
Virgil:  You know I love you Carrie, but I gotta be honest, none of this is making me feel any better.
Carrie:  What are you saying?  That I'm making this sh*t up? (Virgil looks at her to basically say maybe with his facial expression)
Carrie:  Well, maybe I am.  You know, maybe it is all in my head.  But you're in it now, Virgil, up to your f****ing neck!  And so is your weird little brother, so don't even think about bailing on me!

This is an extremely important scene about the demons that Carrie is facing.  So far, everything they have learned while doing illegal surveillance on Brody is...nothing.  Nothing at all seems out of the ordinary, with him, from a surveillance standpoint, so far.  With Virgil bringing up Clozapine to Carrie, he is beginning to cast doubt on everything they are doing.  He is beginning to believe it's possible that all of this is in Carrie's head, due to the lack of evidence they've gotten that Brody is involved, and that Carrie is on medication that is generally prescribed to schizophrenics as a last resort.  If anyone in the CIA knew she was on this drug, she would be bounced from there really quickly.  Virgil apparently wants out of the operation, but Carrie manages to blackmail him by reminding him that they've broken a lot of laws.  For her, if she's going down, because he attempts to bail on the illegal operation, they're going down with her.

Scene 27-Carrie's home

Carrie walks in and finds Saul sitting on her couch, in front of her surveillance monitors.  He has discovered her illegal surveillance set up.  He asks her if she thinks there is any way she thinks she is going to get away with this.  She tells him that she thought once she had some proof.  He interrupts her and says, "Do you have any?  Anything?  Even suggesting Sergeant Brody is what you think he is?"  She tells him no, and Saul tells her to bring a lawyer with her, because she's going to need one when she reports to the IG first thing in the morning.  She tries to stop him, and tells him that she just doesn't want us to get hit, again.  Saul mockingly tells her that he's glad someone's looking out for the country.  She then says that she missed something once, and she can't let that happen, again.  Saul tells her it was 10 years ago, everyone missed something that day.  She tells him that "everyone's not me".  He tells her that he understands, but he doubts a Grand Jury will.  She tells him that she can't understand how he can do this to her.  She tells him that he trained her, and that he put her in the field.  She bites her lip, asks him what she can do to make it right, and then swoops in to try "seduce" him.  Saul looks astonished at her behavior and says, perhaps the best line in the series, "What the f**k are you doing?"  Carrie backs off, ashamed, and Saul tells Carrie goodbye.

Carrie's bad deeds have begun to get the best of her.  She was berated by her illegal surveillance partner, and now Saul has discovered what she's up to, and is going to get her arrested.  Carrie thinks her only way out of the situation is to try to provide sexual favors for Saul.  He is astonished and disgusted, by this behavior, and leaves.  This is the first huge fracture in their relationship.  It happened for two reasons.  The first is that she lied to Saul about what she was doing, and the second is that she tried to bribe him to keep quiet.  Carrie has a use them up, and spit them out, personality.  As Estes said earlier, it's likely that whatever Carrie's into will end badly, probably for both Saul and Carrie.  Based on this scene, alone, we should be expecting Carrie to turn herself in to face a lot of charges.

Scene 28-Carrie's bathroom/bedroom

Carrie moves into full freakout mode, and we see her take another Clozapine pill.  We then see her on her bed listening to jazz music on her iPod, and writhing, or whatever it is she's doing.  She jumps up, grabs her "wedding" ring, tries on a bunch of different clothes meant for partying, and we assume she leaves her home. 

Scene 29-Barbecue at the Brody home

The main purpose behind this scene is to get Mike and Jessica to talk about the situation they're in.  Mike feels Jessica has been ducking him, and she assures him she hasn't.  He tells her that he understands she's trying to do the right thing, but he has feelings, too.  She basically tells him to back off, while still admitting that she has feelings for him.  After they finish talking, Brody, while standing at the backyard grill, notices them in the kitchen, together.  Chris reminds Brody about the hamburgers, and Brody rhetorically asks Chris if Mike's been a big help to his mom.  Chris tells him he's there whenever Mom needs him.  Brody asks Chris if he likes him, and Chris says that he's cool.  Brody burns his thumb on the grill, and then notices Jessica and Mike in the window, again.

The love triangle is in full force, in this scene, and Brody is definitely starting to see that something has happened between Mike and Jessica.  If Chris didn't have such a big mouth, it's unlikely Brody would have started to become wise to it.  Chris is almost like a Freudian slip, but he's just a kid, he doesn't know any better.

Scene 30-Carrie in a jazz bar

Here, we finally get to find out what Carrie does at night.  Brody is even dominating the news cycle on the TV at the bar.  A man she is talking to is talking about how someone's probably out there thinking Brody could have political prospects.  He then asks to ask her a personal question, to which she asks him, "Don't you want to get a couple more drinks in me first?"  He tells her she's married, and she looks at her ring, and says no, that it weeds out the guys looking for a relationship.  He tells her that he's never heard it put so bluntly.  She said she just finds it easier not to screw things up with people she doesn't know.  He tells her that she can't be that bad.  Here's a transcription of what she says next:

Carrie:  What if I told you I betrayed my only true friend, in the world, today?  Just played him for a fool, put his 35 year career at risk?
Random guy at bar:  I would say that, in this town, you're in good company.

She orders another drink, and looks up at Brody, again, on the TV.  The guy she's with asks if she wants to get a table, and Carrie tells him that she would prefer to get out of there.  As she is waiting for the guy to get her coat, she watches the jazz band for a minute.  We get shots of a piano player's fingers, a trumpet player's fingers, a double bass player's fingers, and back to the trumpeter's fingers.  Carrie gets a thinking look on her face, and looks back at the TV.  It is then that she notices Brody has a finger tic, while at the welcome ceremony, that is on TV.  She gets a smile on her face, and it is intimated that she does not go out with the guy she was talking to.

This scene gives us more personality clues about Carrie.  We now definitely know that Carrie is a confirmed partier.  She is a heavy drinker, and she likes to leave bars with total strangers.  Carrie is an extremely reckless person, if that wasn't evident, already.  Obviously, the most important thing is that she found something that Brody is doing (finger movements) that could help her illegal surveillance situation with Saul.  He told her, in the previous scene, that all he needs is something that even suggests that Brody is what she thinks he is.  In her mind, what she just saw was definitely a suggestion.

Scene 31-Saul's house

Carrie wakes Saul up, to show him what she found.  This is also the first instance we see Carrie drinking and driving, something that will happen multiple times in the series (more reckless behavior).  Saul wants to know what he's looking at, and Carrie tells him to look at Brody's right hand.  Saul looks and says that he's just nervous.  Carrie says, "No! No! Look again.  It's a pattern, like a musical phrase."  Saul grimaces, while Carrie presents her case.  He notices the second pattern, and tells her that it is hardly definitive.  She then gets ready to pull out more evidence, which causes Saul to grimace, again.  With the next batch of evidence, she convinces Saul that he might be sending some kind of code, because he does this anytime he is on camera.  Saul looks long and hard at the footage, tells her that they should explore this further, and recommends they get a Crypto team on it.  She says that Pittman's team is the best, and that he knows how to keep it discreet.  Once Saul becomes interested, Carrie gets a big smile on her face.  She asks Saul if she's still going to jail.  He replies, "Not just yet."  The look on her face tells us that she is still really concerned about her future.

Scene 32-Brody house in the bedroom

Jessica wakes up, in the early morning, to find Brody not in the bed.  We then cut to a scene of Brody jogging very fast, and breathing very heavily.  While Brody is jogging, we find out the truth behind his lies.  While hearing Helen Walker's voice asking if Brody was at Corporal Walker's killing, and him responding, no, we see Brody beating Walker to death, in flashback.  We also hear Carrie's voice asking if he had ever met Abu Nazir, with him responding no.  Then, right after that, while he is punching Walker, Abu Nazir is near Brody, and tells Brody to hit him harder.  Brody punches Walker over and over until we see Walker's eyes glaze over.  Brody breaks down in tears, and appears to be comforted by Abu Nazir.  As Brody takes a break from his jogging, we see him looking sinisterly across the way.  The camera does a full 180 to reveal that Brody is looking at the Capitol Building.  The end credits begin.

What an amazingly long undertaking writing this has been.  I came away with a bigger appreciation for what's going on the series.  There really aren't any major plot holes, yet.  I've also decided it's too early for me to give you the plot twist that happened in episode 7.  Based on what I saw here, it still seems incredibly unlikely for it to have been possible.  However, what we don't know is how long the event we saw went on.  If it happened over a period of time, there is no reason to believe that some of it wasn't staged.  Those of you who have seen all of the episodes will know exactly what I am talking about here.

Based on what we saw in most of episode 1, it's a real stretch to believe that Brody has anything weird going on.  The only thing that casts a lot of doubt on him is his propensity to lie, that is until the end of the episode.  At the end of the episode, we see that he has beaten a man to death, since that's how he said Tom Walker died, to his wife.  We also see that he at least was working in some kind of tandem with Abu Nazir.

As for Carrie, she's a loose cannon.  She doesn't care who she hurts to get what she wants, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.  She is not only self-destructive, but also has a tendency to destroy anyone who comes in contact with her.  Of all the characters on the show, she is, by far, the most truly dangerous.  I think there is at least some possibility that she could be in on some plot, due to her anti-authoritarian ways, and her very strange apparent attachment to Brody.  I think the scene where she said she missed something 10 years ago was important.  I don't know if she lost someone, or what, but there's more to that than meets the eye.

We don't really know what's up with Saul.  I can tell, pretty early on, that he's a master manipulator, who is also able to be manipulated by Carrie.  There's no way, based on Carrie's history, that he doesn't know what she's capable of.  I think he secretly enjoys her anti-authority ways, but only when he's not affected by them.  When Saul discovered Carrie's illegal surveillance operation, he easily could have busted Carrie, right then and there, if he had any intentions of really doing that.  However, he gave her the night to try to figure something out.  This will be a recurring pattern with him.  He puts Carrie under pressure to find answers, and seems to think that only when the pressure is on can he get her to really find something.  In future episodes, you will find that there is much more to Saul than meets the eye.  For now, my only suggestion is to pay extremely close attention, every time he is on screen.

The true dramatic conflict in the show comes from what I've referred to as the "love triangle".  The situation with Brody's family will come to a head, but it will be a slow burn.

Here's my initial feeling about where the show is going.  I feel that Brody is some kind of military plant to infiltrate the organization.  I believe he was super deep undercover.  There are definite parallels with The Manchurian Candidate, but we won't see those plot lines develop for at least a few more episodes.  If I am right about this being a covert operation, I think that just about everyone Carrie is dealing with is in on it, especially Estes and Saul (the Estes/Trujillo interactions and even Mike being in Military Intelligence are even minor clues, to me).  If I am right, they have been trying to push her away from the truth, and are hoping that she doesn't screw up the operation.  Even though Saul is definitely appearing to push her away from investigating this, I think there are some parts of him that want her to do this.  This is still for reasons unknown.  Up until the end of episode 7, there is absolutely no reason for me to think I am wrong about my initial assessment, due to a number of things that happen.  However, the end of episode 7 cast that entire storyline into doubt, and now I am extremely concerned that this is going to become a chase show.  Based on what I've seen in episode 1, especially with how detailed it is, I just think there's no way the twist is anything more than a decoy.  In future episodes I'll talk about another thing this show loves to do, make you think one thing, and then immediately turn it around and make you think something else.  I call that misdirection and re-direction.

This took me absolutely forever to write, so, if you made it this far, I really appreciate it.  Due to how long these are likely going to take me to write, I'm thinking I probably won't be done with them until after the last episode of season 1 has aired.  I'll try to keep things grounded at the episode 7 plot twist, but things could totally change by the end of Sunday's episode.  If you think this whole blog post wasn't any good, please let me know, and I won't write any other ones about this.  Thanks for reading.

2 comments:

  1. I have been wondering about Carrie's unauthorized surveillance on Brody. How does she afford $1000 a day for an entire month? It was mentioned in the pilot that "for a grand a day you get the bare bones". So clearly she is paying out of pocket (as you mentioned). I am just not clear how she shells out 30k. Does Saul begin to divert funds after he gets the warrant?

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  2. They never really cleared that up, but based on what we saw all season, it doesn't look like Carrie has much of a life (just goes to bars). I don't think it's unreasonable to think she would have $30,000 she'd be willing to burn on this. I definitely don't think Saul got any funds diverted for it, as it would raise suspicion he wouldn't want raised. A larger question is how long was she planning on doing the surveillance on her own dime?

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