“Q&A” opens with Brody’s hood coming off: he’s handcuffed to a table and manacled to the floor, probably having the most awful form of déjà vu that harks back to his time as a POW. Carrie paces outside the surveillance room in a corridor with a floor stained a red color that’s probably not blood. (Probably.) Estes shows up, shooting daggers at her with her eyes. He and Quinn want to keep her away from the interrogation, but Saul argues, “She’s forgotten more about Brody than we’ll ever know.” Thanks to her electroconvulsive therapy, that might be literally true.
Quinn goes the first round with Brody, who snaps that he’s a United States Congressman: “You can’t just kidnap me and shackle me to the floor.” Quinn points out that thanks to Congress, they can do exactly that, a hoist-on-his-own-petard moment. Quinn walks Brody through his previous story, asks if he’s sticking to it, and then leaves him with the suicide bomb confessional. Lewis’ stunned lack of reaction is as potent as any of his previous panicky moments.
Of course, they can’t just kidnap a U.S. congressman, so Estes tells Brody’s chief of staff (I guess) that he’s helping the CIA with a national security matter, which is true based on your definition of “helping.” Brody’s chief tells Jessica the cover story that Brody has the flu, but when she goes to his hotel, chicken soup in hand, she finds that his room hasn’t been occupied. Despite having just chucked Brody out, Jessica seems eager to patch things up, perhaps because she can’t stand looking like the bad guy to the kids.
Quinn revisits Brody, who pretty much acknowledges that he loved Issa like a son, but refuses to admit to being a suicide bomber: “I wasn’t wearing a vest. I made a tape, that’s all. You’ve got nothing on me.” Brody, again, proves to be a born secret agent, assessing the situation and making the most brazen possible bluff. Quinn asks what his family would think if he went to trial and Dana would have to acknowledge “My dad, the jihadist murderer.” The exchange heats up and Quinn drives a knife through Brody’s palm! Is he insane? Does he think he’s Jack Bauer?
Carrie kicks out Quinn and takes over the interview, and later Quinn tells Saul that every good cop needs a bad cop, or every bipolar cop needs a torture cop, or something like that. “You broke my heart, you know,” says Carrie, making the stakes of their conversation intensely personal. (I wonder which would be worse for Brody: the harsh interrogation, or talking about their feelings.) Carrie claims to be in love with Brody, and we mostly believe her, but she could be expressing her feelings to manipulate him. Carrie’s tricky that way.
“Are you sure you’re not a monster, Brody?” Carrie asks, comparing him to Walden and Nazir, both guilty of killing innocents. Brody still doesn’t crack, though, until Carrie presses him about the day of the shooting: “Dana called you, didn’t she? She used my cell.” Brody finally agrees that it’s true, but insists that he doesn’t know about Nazir’s intentions. “But there is a plan to attack America?” Lewis conveys that Brody is deeply upset, but how will he respond? As if responding to the willpower of the audience at home, Brody says “Yes!” Score! Carrie got him. Saul comes in, they unshackle Brody and he curls up on the floor, which was probably his usual pose during years of captivity.
The Dana subplot offers a kind of a metaphor to the “A” plot. She formally ends her relationship with her old boyfriend and starts dating Finn, who invites her to see Once Upon a Time in America. She shifts her romantic interests just as her father (apparently) shifts his loyalty from the Abu Nazir network to the CIA. Finn takes Dana out for a drive, the Secret Service following, and Dana says “Let’s have some fun!” Finn drives off, trying to elude their pursuers. “Faster, faster!” Dana shouts, because joy rides in heavily-trafficked areas always turn out well. And sure enough, Finn crashes into a pedestrian — a homeless woman? — and out of fear of ruining his family name, flees the scene of the accident.
Carrie returns to Brody, who starts awake. “We need to go over your options,” she says, which is a sentence you never want to hear. Given the choice of a public trial or helping the CIA in secrecy, Brody goes along with the latter, although Carrie says he’ll need to quit politics and Brody questions whether the CIA can grant him immunity. So they take him home, in a sequence that seems to equate the restoration of a family with insuring domestic security. “Homeland” can’t just coax Brody back from the dark side of the force; it seeks to bring his family back together. When the Brody’s unite, however, Jessica and the kids have questions that seem to hang in the air, and Brody can only provide partial answers.
The episode returns with Carrie alone in her apartment. She knocks back a glass of white wine (gross), pours herself another and sits on the sofa. The mood seems less of triumph than of isolation. She “got” Brody, in the sense of getting him to admit the truth about himself, but not in the sense that she can be with the man she loves, even though they’ll start a cover story about an affair. It’s as if her victory came with a price.
On the way home, Brody anticipates a future in which Walden gets elected and Abu Nazir, discovering Brody’s new loyalities, goes after the Brody family. Could that be a preview of future episodes? Things have been moving so fast on this show that I hesitate to make long-range predictions, but it could be that the rest of Season 2 will depict Carrie, Brody, et al trying to prevent Abu Nazir’s imminent attack, and Season 3 will have our damaged heroes open a new investigation against the vice president, who could well end up as the president.
When Finn met Dana at school, he remarked that his mother kicked his father out about once a month, but they end up getting back together as if nothing happened. Is that a true depiction of the Walden’s stormy domestic life, or is the vice president up to something more nefarious? I think the latter is a safe bet.
At the end Virgil appears to be keeping the Brody household under surveillance, but aren’t our CIA pals putting a lot of faith in him? Even acknowledging that his interest lies in cooperating, Brody’s an unstable individual with terrorist sympathies: why would they assume that he won’t warn Nazir and attempt to flee? Or, given that he’s a U.S. Congressman stabbed in the hand, that he wouldn’t call a lawyer? We the viewers know Brody won’t do those things, but I’m not sure Estes would trust him that much.
If I were in one of those all-night interrogations, I’d probably cave just to get a bathroom break.
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