Forgive me, Nicholas Brody. I had wished you dead. Now, I want you to live.
I have long thought that Homeland should have killed off Nicholas Brody, its POW-turned-terrorist-turned-Congressman-turned-terrorist-again-turned-bald wanderer played by Emmy-winning Damian Lewis. I subscribed to Emily Nussbaum’s theory that if Brody’s suicide vest had gone off in season one it would have been an “uncompromising one-season series—something impossible, because of those damn TV economics.” I ardently believed that it was silly that Showtime stopped the writers from knocking him off again in season two. I held firm that after the mystery of Brody was solved in the first season—yes, he is/was/is a terrorist—the mere fact of having him around forced the show to tread water. If they just got rid of him they could start the show from scratch and then, perhaps, inject energy into it. Brody, however, has been gone for most of this season, and, if anything, the energy has been down. Who did we need? Turns out, we needed Nicholas Brody.
Last night’s episode did something remarkable: it made me want Brody to survive. That's not to say the show didn't get me to this this point of Brody-love in a pretty cheap, sorta bananas way. As viewers, we are supposed to believe that in a matter of weeks Brody got over his heroin problem, got on board with Carrie and Saul’s plan to insert him into Iran and have him kill the head of the Revolutionary Guard, and got all marine-like again. Okay, Homeland writers, okay. And for the first part of the episode, before Brody cleaned himself up (in a quite literal fashion), I was groaning. The prospect of an entire episode of Lewis’ crazy eyes as Brody hallucinates and shits himself was not pleasant. But Homeland has never been afraid to move things along quickly, and by the time Brody was visiting Dana at the motel where she apparently lives and cleans up and promised Carrie he would come home, I was on the character’s side.
Why? Because for all the insanity of this plot line—(I’m beyond guessing whether or not this could really be a plausible CIA plot, especially in light of recent news events)—the Carrie-Brody chemistry still has something to it. Call me a shipper, but that odd sexual tension is intriguing, as it always has been, much to the credit of Lewis and Claire Danes, who use their looks of longing so well. Of course, not all is well in the Brody-Carrie romance -- this time she's keeping a big pregnant secret from him -- but these two will never not have their issues. Letting that relationship run wild is a jolt of life to the show as is Brody, soldier-like and coherent, going into action.
Furthermore, Brody’s scene with Dana—his love for her and her rejection of him—to some extent justifies some of the teenage melodrama in the rest of the season. No, no, it doesn’t excuse the totally irrelevant possibly murderous boyfriend plot, but it does mean that her rejection of her family was important for the long play, as Saul might say.
Now let me be clear: I still think the show could (and maybe should) kill Brody. He still doesn't plausibly have a life in America. But if Brody doesn’t make it out of the season alive, I may actually feel emotion about his death, something which I didn’t think was possible after all this time wanting the character to bite the dust. For now, though, I'm happy that he's alive.