Everyone needs to feel powerful and in control. That’s especially true of those who have little or no power to speak of – like, say, a recently-turned terrorist asset who is now actively working with the CIA in order to maintain his freedom and not completely destroy the lives of his family. Homeland has dealt with power struggles before – it’s one the show’s strongest storytelling assets – but in ‘The Clearing,’ the writers work in how close the needs of others can come to undoing the machinations of those used to getting their way.
Case in point: Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) wanders over to the local supermax prison to have a chat with Aileen Morgan (Marin Ireland, Boss) about the nameless gun-loving terrorist who recently claimed the lives of several agents. Bringing back an ancillary character like Aileen is a great way to get the message across that not everyone is looking out for the next big terrorist threat – some are just looking to maintain control of their corner of the world. Aileen just wants a cell with a window (permanently), and in exchange for that, she’ll play ball. Aileen’s a roadblock, but a minor one at best. The prison’s warden, however, is supposed to be on the same side as Saul, but for some reason, he doesn’t take too kindly to Mr. Berenson’s “big shot” attitude, and most notably, his “heaven-may-care grooming.” For whatever reason, the warden’s unwilling to play ball, and Saul has to go over his head.
It’s a little subtler, and a lot more complicated, but Brody (Damian Lewis) is going through much the same thing. He’s feeling somewhat undervalued and completely in the dark at moment – what with Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) breathing down his neck and whispering sweet nothings to Jessica (Morena Baccarin) about how Brody killed Tom Walker. Meanwhile Roya (Zuleikha Robinson) – looking noticeably agitated – is telling Brody to keep Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan) as content as possible. It’s all beginning to feel a bit too much for the (reformed?) terrorist, so Carrie (Clare Danes) has to step in and empower her asset a little – but not before Mike is dressed down for refusing to lay off Brody after Saul and Estes (David Harewood) told him to take a hike.
Carrie is covering for Brody by selling Mike on a thinly veiled been-there-done-that speech about wanting something unattainable that was never intended to be theirs in the first place. Of course, Carrie follows that up by meeting Brody in a clearing for a mid-fundraiser make out session. Sure, Brody, desperate for a bit of power, leaves the encounter feeling “dirty” and “used,” but he’s also feeling pretty good, so maybe that’s all the empowerment he needed. Or was it just for Carrie’s benefit?
As potentially cumbersome as the resurgence of the Brody/Mathison union could be, the little snafu regarding Finn (Timothee Chalamet) and Dana’s (Morgan Saylor) hit-and-run comes to a boiling point. During ‘A Gettysburg Address,’ it seemed like Dana would follow in her father’s well-trodden footsteps and maintain the lie for as long as possible. And as much as Dana is like her father, she’s not totally broken – the burden of the truth was simply too much. But what will come of it? For now, it looks like nothing. As evidenced all episode long, power means forcing compliance and compromise. The Brodys are willing to face the music, but they run into the wall that is the Walden family and the CIA. If ordering an illegal drone strike is something William Walden can make go away, what chance does a simple victim of teenage disobedience have?
In the end, it’s another example of the emotional response those in the field have to their assets. Carrie and Saul are quick to get attached, and let that attachment dictate belief – which seemingly always ends in disaster. Perhaps Peter Quinn, with his undying bluntness and cold detachment, really is the best man for the job.
Highlights from the episode:
- This was easily the most quotable episode of the season; everyone from the normally quippy Quinn to Saul and even a supermax prison guard had some memorable lines.
- Aileen is “a spitter, a hitter” and something else we won’t mention here. The guard’s practically re-writing the lyrics to ‘The Joker.’
- Quinn has no time for interrogations, hospital stays, or modesty.
- In a television show filled with so much top-notch talent, it’s amazing to see a young actress like Morgan Saylor command equal presence on screen.
- “You were right, the warden’s a bastard.” Nobody can validate an accusation quite like Saul.
Homeland continues next Sunday with ‘I’ll Fly Away’ @10pm on Showtime. Check out a preview of the episode below: