A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
The Weekend is without a doubt not just the best episode yet of Homeland, it’s also one of the best television episodes in the history of television, period. The characters take center stage here and Meredith Stiehm’s incredible script unravels layer upon layer upon layer from these characters’ outer and inner shells. It’s beyond impressive. The episode largely splits between Saul and Carrie, each on a separate journey that uncovers more and more of who they are and who they’re pretending to be, what they think they want and what they truly crave. And inevitably those desires when they become fully realized will clash and reality settles in. More often than not, that reality sort of boxes them in, encasing them within literal or figurative walls from which their isn’t any escape but brutal, blunt honesty.
Saul’s journey takes him to Aileen, who had attempted to run off to Mexico but gets apprehended in Nuevo Laredo. Instead of using a helicopter or any aircraft in general to get them back to Virginia and thus Langley, Saul decides that they’re going to go on a very long drive. Saul wants to understand Aileen, to see how she became what she did, an introspective understanding so often lost in American foreign policy today. He tells her of his austere Jewish upbringing and his relationship with Mira. And Raqim’s name comes up. Aileen changes, telling him of her own childhood in the Middle East and how she sees the United States as the aggressive enemy. She promises information in return for Raqim to get a proper, Muslim burial. The CIA scouts out Aileen’s home, recognizing that there’s a direct line of sight for the landing pad of Marine One, the helicopter of the President of the United States. A direct line of sight that a sniper could use.
Brody and Carrie go out on an excursion into the woods where Carrie’s family owns a cabin. Amidst the woods the two relax, calm each other down and you can notice the ease that’s building up between the two seeming nemeses in how Danes and Lewis loosen their body language. At night he suddenly wakes up, yelling “Issa! No!” but Carrie doesn’t realize the meaning behind his words. The next morning, Carrie slips on the mention of Brody’s favor tea. The spying secret is out. Carrie, never one to calmly take accusations, accuses Brody in turn of working for al-Qaeda. Brody’s furious, checking off Carrie’s entire litany of questions in a furiously written sequence. Yes, he’s a Muslim and he prays in his garage. Issa was a guard who treated him well. He did kill Walker with his own bare hands in order to save his own fire. He met Nazir but he didn’t mention his name because he was kind. And the finger movements are from prayer beads. He slams the cottage door and leaves just as Saul calls Carrie. It was Walker who was alive and who was turned, not Brody. Carrie is thunderstruck, rushing out and trying to explain everything to Brody, trying to prove their time together was real. Brody leaves as the episode closes around him sobbing in his living room, all alone in the crushing darkness.
The performances in this episode were phenomenal, anchored by the real electric chemistry that Lewis and Danes share to such an incredible degree. Mandy Patinkin remains as brilliant as always as Saul, his eyes expressing so much behind the wise man persona he always carries with him. Meredith Stiehm as mentioned above pens a brilliant script. She has an acute knack for understanding these characters and allowing the audience to understand them as well. Michael Cuesta, who will submit the pilot for the Emmy undoubtedly, directs with phenomenal aplomb here. His shots juxtaposing Carrie and Brody with and then against each against such a serene backdrop are amazing. This is storytelling, folks.
Title: The Weekend
Written By: Meredith Stiehm
Directed By: Michael Cuesta
Image Courtesy: Independent Co. UK