Words Are the Most Powerful Weapon
A Television Review by Akash Singh
NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!
Q & A is the best episode this show has ever done, hands down. And I thought nothing could overcome The Weekend in terms of sheer quality. Not every piece clicks, but those bits are forgiven when the interrogation scene comes to light. That sequence between Carrie and Brody is one of the most magnificent scenes ever filmed, period. If someone ever compiled a list of the Top 10 most riveting scenes in all of television history, the interrogation of Brody by Carrie would easily be there. The writing by the late Henry Bromell is absolutely phenomenal as the two tear each other down by simply speaking. Lesli Linka Glatter’s work is sublime, her camera cutting some of the best framing angles in the medium. Claire Danes and Damian Lewis give the best performances of their careers in that sequence and it is without a doubt the most incredibly acted scene of the year. “Are you a good man, Brody?” Carrie essentially asks, and we melt before the screen in awe.
Quinn begins the interrogation, with Carrie casting a somewhat uncomfortable shadow over the whole proceeding. Immediately Quinn moves into “hardcore interrogator” mode, but Brody denies everything. He denies knowing Issa, the suicide vest, and any involvement with Tom Walker. Quinn then plays the tape of Brody’s confession tape. Quinn returns and Brody quickly admits to everything but the suicide vest itself, the most incriminating act of them all. Out of nowhere Quinn stabs Brody in the hand with a knife. Chaos ensues and the outrageous bloodshed allows for another interrogator to enter the room.
Enter Carrie. All the video is turned off while the audio remains on. Carrie creates an uncomfortable comfort zone. And then Carrie proves why she is so damn good in the business. “You broke my heart, you know,” she begins quietly. She isn’t screaming, she isn’t distraught. She’s calm and empathetic and that destroys Brody more than anything else. It’s a quiet building, a moment of pure, brutal honesty because she’s interested in the truth and some sense of personhood hidden away in Brody himself. “It’s the lies that undo us. Lies we think we need to survive. When was the last time you told the truth?” Carrie’s questions is a quiet one, a haunting one. When was the last time Brody told a significant truth of his own volition? He had been caught in so many webs that they were finally beginning to suffocate him. “I wish you would leave your family for me,” she blurts out in a moment that is clearly calling towards a push of honesty. She presses into Abu Nazir, accounting his past crimes that had killed “Chrises, Danas, and Jessicas.” It was Dana’s phone call that has saved so many from dying that day, she concludes correctly. She ties a further knot. “You’re not a monster,” she presses in an almost loving manner. Brody had made a choice not to kill, and that meant something.
Brody breaks, naming Roya Hammad and the tailor Bassel as two key instruments in Abu Nazir’s plan. He names other al-Qaeda associates but one by one he realizes they’re all dead. Carrie then swivels towards Brody’s options. Option one is public downfall and prison. Option two is Brody turning into an agent for the CIA. Naturally he picks the second option. And that cell the two of them are sitting in grew a thousandfold smaller. It’s a wonder Brody can even breathe anymore. But there’s a relief in him shedding his veil and speaking the truth for once. How long that lasts remains to be seen.
The episode ends with the team removing a plethora of pictures from the alive to the dead column and Roya’s picture finally moving into the live suspects. It’s ironic that combatants are reduced sometimes to just photographs in this war. Those photographs are all of men and women who believed they were good soldiers, fighting for a just cause. That their fighting would somehow lead to greatness or glory. None of that exists. At the end of the day they’re just photographs on a wall, being taken from one portion of the bulletin board to the other in a war that has no end in sight. Abu Nazir used them as a means to an end. It is no mistake that he is still alive and they are not.
Title: Q & A
Written By: Henry Bromell
Directed By: Lesli Linka Glatter
Image Courtesy: Life Is Caps @ LiveJournal