HOMELAND: Love So Wrong That It Simultaneously Hurts And Makes Viewers Swoon At The Same Time (2012)


Whether you are the type of fan that felt betrayed by the salacious and scandalous storylines of the second season of HOMELAND, or the type who sat in rapt attention applauding the show’s over-the-top audacity, no one disputes that the unexpected love affair of Carrie and Brody was captivating.

The bipolar CIA analyst and the reluctant terrorist, who knew that it was going to prove to be so addictive and worthy of Emmy gold? Yet if the past year is any indication, the rapidly rising ratings and the rush to shower award gold on HOMELAND are evidence that viewers, critics and industry peers love the golden duo.

Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) are two people whose paths should have never crossed. But due to the unusual circumstances of Brody’s capture and sudden rescue after eight years in captivity, Brody caught Carrie’s fixated attention. With whispers of an American soldier turned while in captivity hover on the CIA horizon, Brody’s return made him the prime target of her investigation.

Yet a funny thing happened along the way – Carrie and Brody fell in love. It should have never have happened, yet the moment they met, everyone felt the spark of attraction. It was sizzling, unexpected and oh so wrong; even Carrie initially ran away from it, but then allowed herself to be seduced by a man she was certain was participating in a terrorist attack. Mid-way through the first season of HOMELAND, it went from being a spy story to a love story. The fates of Carrie and Brody became inextricably intertwined. Yet falling in love did not blind either to their goals and each kept a wary eye on the other while still enthralled by the effect they had on each other. It was toxic, dangerous and all-consuming. But once Brody realized how much Carrie knew about him and that she also knew he was going to try to assassinate the Vice President, he was panicked. Yet fortune smiled on him and no one believed Carrie because of her bipolar disorder, which was triggered and exposed when she was caught in an explosion. No one trusted a CIA analyst who had hidden her mental illness, let alone one who seemed visibly out of her mind and unable to convey rationally the proof confirming Brody was a terrorist and that an attack was imminent.

Season one of HOMELAND ended on a magnificent note as Brody was persuaded to not detonate the suicide vest and Carrie underwent shock-therapy in attempt to regain her mental faculties. Carrie and Brody could not have been further apart at that moment, but Carrie had done what she hoped: she had found a way to create a wedge between Brody and Abu Nazir and prevented an attack that would killed hundreds of people, including the top leaders of our nation. Carrie had also saved Brody physically. She had saved the one she loved and kept him out of harm’s way in the process. Everyone may believe she was a nut-case, but she did save Brody from being blown to smithereens. So her conscience and soul were soothed, as she knew that she had saved them all.

But the path to love is not without its thorns. Brody may have begun to doubt his allegiance to Abu Nazir, but he could still be manipulated into participating in another terrorist attack. He had left an incriminating video confession behind when he thought he was going through with his suicide mission; a video confession that he desperately wished he could take back. The second season of HOMELAND also revealed that no only did Abu Nazir have the video, so did the CIA, and both sides used that video confession ruthlessly to exploit Brody for their own purposes.

After the CIA’s betrayal and condemnation in season one of HOMELAND, Carrie only knew that she wanted to preserve her tenuous mental health and to make sure Brody was not involved in another attack. Her elation of being proved right once the video surfaced was tempered by her worry that Brody would be locked away in some hole and she would never see him again. Brody may be a traitor and terrorist, but he was also the man that held the key to her heart. She could not bear to think of her life without him. So Carrier fought tooth and nail to find a way to rehabilitate him as an asset and to keep him alive – and she won again.

Carrie may gave sacrificed her hard fought-for reputation by divulging the depths of her feelings for Brody, but it also revealed that she was not alone. Brody loved her too; and right or wrong, they needed each other. Brody needed Carrie to guide him out of the treacherous labyrinth he found himself ensnared between Abu Nazir and the CIA; and he needed her strength and her unwavering love. For she knew exactly who he was from the first and yet still loved him. She had also risked her life, her career, and her sanity to save him once and she would do it again without hesitation.

It is fitting that Carrie and Brody first met at an AA meeting. They were both there for fictitious reasons as neither are alcoholics, but they discovered a new addiction in their first casual meeting – each other. In the episode “The Clearing,” even Brody even acknowledged how powerful a hold Carrie had on his heart when he said, “Two minutes with you and I feel good. How do you pull that off?” For better or worse, Carrie and Brody’s love could not be denied. She could persuade him to do anything. It had taken Abu Nazir eight years to break and rebuild Brody as a terrorist, whereas Carrie had done it in seconds. Standing in the AA parking lot, Brody knew he had been touched by something extraordinary. It overcame his fear, his desire to be faithful to his wife, his indoctrination, his training, and even his own sense of knowing better – but he had to be with Carrie damn the consequences; and for Carrie, it was the same. She let herself fall in love knowing full well that she was giving her heart to a terrorist. But since love that deep is so rare and precious, she was willing to let go and let herself fall.

HOMELAND’s second season allowed us to watch again the dance of attraction between Brody and Carrie as they both knew that they should stay away from each other. Yet love and desire won again. Plus, with their fates so intertwined, they could not stay away from each other. Brody needed saving again and only Carrie could do it. She had to find a way to persuade him again to give up the stranglehold that Abu Nazir had on him. Yet it was only when Brody held the power to save Carrie from Abu Nazir that the strength of their love was proven.

There will be those that say that Abu Nazir and Brody planned together the deadly attack on the CIA headquarters in the second season finale. But in the episode “Broken Hearts,” we see that was not possible, for Abu Nazir would not have needed Carrie to manipulate Brody into killing the Vice President if Brody was aligned with him. There would have no need for that kind of secret leverage – Brody would have simply done it. Yet even a brilliant strategist like Abu Nazir understood that love is more powerful than indoctrination. He had convinced Brody to join his cause while in captivity, and used Brody’s love for Abu Nazir’s son to manipulate Brody into becoming a suicide bomber. But that was all undone by Brody’s love for his daughter and his love for Carrie. So Abu Nazir knew that in order to truly use Brody, he would have to exploit Brody’s love for Carrie.

Love is truly the most powerful weapon of all. It can conquer any enemy. It can also weaken the strongest opponent. Brody’s love for Carrie was the perfect tool to use to get Brody to kill the Vice President. But once Carrie was set free, that was no longer an option and it forced Abu Nazir to use another weapon – the blindspot created by Carrie and Brody’s love. Nazir knew that if he were dead, Carrie and Brody would not be able to keep away from each other and that their defenses would be down. They would be the perfect pawns in getting the bomb Nazir planted in Brody’s car close to the CIA building.

When Brody saved Carrie’s life, he saved his own soul too. It forced him to recognize how important she was to him. He could no longer hide behind the mask of the man he used to be or the pretender that came back as a turned agent. He could also not simply return home this time to his wife and children. Carrie’s love was more powerful than all that. She knows him and loves him, despite all his flaws. She could love a terrorist and forgive him. It was also the power of Carrie and Brody’s love for each other that saved Brody from a sniper’s bullet. Quinn had been recruited for a special black ops assignment – to kill Brody the second he was expendable. Yet time and time again Quinn hesitated. The love he had witnessed first hand between Carrie and Brody was rare, and he dared not destroy that love with a single bullet. Their love to have won over Quinn, a cold-hearted assassin speaks volumes. That is how precious and rare it is.

Then in the finale, we saw the lengths that Carrie would go to in order to save Brody from Abu Nazir’s final frame-up job in the CIA bombing. She used her one and only escape plan that she had saved for a rainy day to get Brody out of harm’s way – and she then chose not to go with him as she knew that she would be the only person that would believe that he was not responsible for this attack. Just as sure as Carrie had been that Brody was a terrorist, she was that sure that he was not a terrorist anymore. She had seen and felt the power of their love and knew he was not the same rage-infused terrorist because of it. Brody had discovered something to live for – and he would not have risked his love with Carrie for anything. So when Brody softly said, “Goodbye, my love” to Carrie knowing that she was putting herself in the cross-hairs in order to save him, it rippled with emotion. He too knew that he had found something so precious that he did not want to imagine his life without it.

Brody and Carrie’s love should never have existed, but once discovered, it could not be denied. It burns with fire, intensity and passion and compels them to do impossible things — and its sheer overwhelming power cannot be hidden. We celebrate that love and wonder what depths it will drag them in season three of HOMELAND. Yet like Carrie and Brody, it may be wrong, but it feels so right and we will be watching, unable to take our eyes away.

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