Homeland "A Gettysburg Address" Review: Uneasily Back to Where We Started

By Tim Surette

Nov 05, 2012

Homeland S02E06: "A Gettysburg Address"

Sometimes lost among Homeland's lovey-dovey interrogations and tailor impalings and attempted suicides and hit-and-run car accidents is an investigation that's trying to save the world, or at the very least, America. Now that we've caught Brody in his no-good lies and slapped a "good guy" sticker on his forehead by bringing him over to our side, we can concentrate on stopping Abu Nazir from opening up some real estate in the U.S. as payback for the death of his kid, Israel's strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, and the ending of Lost (or The Sopranos or The Killing or Seinfeld, take your pick). Right? Nooooooooooope.

"A Gettysburg Address" followed Brody's first day on the job at the CIA, but instead of making things getting simpler for us now that his great mystery has been revealed to the agency and everyone is supposedly on the same page, everything's getting even more complicated. And I don't really use the word I'm about to use out that often because a) I'm not British and 2) I'm miserly with my praise, but the way Homeland has made us question everything all over again is kind of brilliant.

We're beautifully backtracking to the same feeling of uneasiness we experienced in the first half of Season 1. Once again, the crux of the show is "What the fudge is going on in Brody's mind?" This time Brody is stuck between the CIA and Nazir, and while we're certain he's at least helping the CIA to some degree, we have no idea what he's doing for Nazir's side. I look at the scene when Brody met with Roya and the two of them suspiciously stayed silent for almost a full minute, Brody holding his back to the camera so we couldn't see his face or get a clue what he might be signaling to Roya. Carrie seemed particularly interested in that exchange as well. I'm not saying he definitely tipped Roya off to something, but I'm trying to find a reason that detail made it into the episode, because Homeland is so keen on staying as lean as can be. (While I'm being totally paranoid, there was also a shot of Roya staring down toward Brody's hand at one point; could he have possibly written something on his bandage or shown her a note?) And if you think about his motivations, shutting out Nazir completely seems like a baaaaad idea. Turning on the CIA comes with a pain-free lethal injection death penalty. Turning on Nazir? That ends with his family's heads on sticks. And that's if Nazir is feeling generous! That's more than enough reason to think Brody is playing both sides.

And that's exactly what this show wants us to think. Could Brody have tipped Roya off to the feds' presence at Gettysburg at some point? Or was it just a moment of silence between the two while some random dude accidentally snooped on their clandestine secrets? Damn you, Homeland! But this is when Homeland is at its best.

There was more Season 1 recall with Carrie, specifically her me-against-the-world situation. Only this time, the situation is flipped. In Season 1, Carrie was "the crazy one" for thinking a golden boy plucked from the clutches of evil after serving his country had somehow become a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda. Now, Carrie seems to be the only one who trusts Brody, while everyone else looks at him with a sideways glance. Jess, Mike, Quinn, Saul, Lauder, and Estes all have their doubts about him, and many of them have no problem telling Carrie the exact opposite of what they told her last season.

And because Homeland has been so good at defying our expectations, there's no real way to predict how things will go. We're used to Carrie being right, but how interesting will it be if it turns out she's wrong? What if Brody is duping the CIA and her actions cost lives? What if she's right and Brody is mistakenly accused of helping the other side when he's being loyal to his country? Amazingly, Homeland hasn't backed itself into a corner, it's backed itself into the middle of the room, and every direction the Brody-Carrie story can go in is full of potential.

But the Brody-Carrie story isn't the only thing going on here. The Dana and Finn story is headed exactly where you might expect a teens-in-a-hit-and-run story to go: Dana found out the victim died and was a great person who just wanted to provide for her family and not get run over by some hotshot high-school sophomore. If there's one story this season that's waving a red flag, it's this one. But this is Homeland, so there's reason to believe there's more in store with this thread than we think.

We've been spoiled with two fantastic white-knuckle episodes in a row over the last two weeks, but don't sleep on the slower-paced "A Gettysburg Address"! This episode did some important dirty work behind the scenes to rattle our comfort levels and raise our suspicions.


– Semi-spoiler for those who didn't see the "Next on Homeland" scenes: It looks like Quinn made it out of the tailor-shop massacre.

– I don't want to theorize on what the Al Qaeda strike force pulled out of the wall of the tailor's shop, but if I had to guess, I'd probably say it goes "boom."

– One theory I'd like to see become reality (first suggested to me by @CarmineAlvaro and also seen around the internet) is an eye-for-an-eye revenge by Nazir on Veep Walden. Walden kills Issa, Nazir kills Finn. Of course, it wouldn't be a single assassination attempt on Finn, but probably a hit on the school, which would also put Dana in danger. That would clearly be a huge step for the series, so I'm not holding my breath.

– Jess seems to barely believe the "Brody's working for the CIA" story, but I don't know if it's because the idea seems so far-fetched or because she can smell Carrie on his clothes.

– It's been said before, but everyone who works for the CIA is totally bonkers.

– Mike's investigation into Brody is progressing slowly, and while it isn't quite interesting yet, it's building another nice layer of tension.

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  • Ne2SuIueSzb Nov 13, 2012

    I was a little concerned that Homeland might have put itself in a bad position after the main premise being finished, but that was all for NOTHING!!!! It just gets better and better! Say what you like, but if this continues, this could become one of the best shows of all times. Holy moly...

  • alexccj1 Nov 11, 2012

    We all know that Abu Nazir used Isah's death to help turn Brody. I actually think he took it a step further; I think he knowingly sacrificed his own son to get Brody to turn. I think that's the kind of man we're dealing with. So will he take revenge by killing Finn? I think not. I believe the Finn/Dana hit and run story may act as some kind of tipping point for Brody. Currently he's most likely on the CIA's side. But when he finds out about the hit and run he will realise that Finn is no better than his father and that may well be what flipps him back to Nazir. I'm betting Dana tells Brody about the hit and run during some important event and thus creates an inflection point. Dana's telephone conversation with Brody saved the day at the end of last season, while the opposite may hold true for this season..

  • MikeUK123 Nov 09, 2012

    Great show, but Carrie's character is starting to ruin it for me. She is too much of a 'cry baby' and far too fragile to be a CIA agent. How are we supposed to believe she survived abroad? I suspect this is the script more than the acting.

  • agibaer Nov 09, 2012

    Firstly, I work in a home for homeless people, of which many are mentally ill, and I have to say, Claire Danes is the best actor by lightyears portraying someone schizophrenic. Even so far, as to totally turning me off, because she is so much like a guy we have in our house, she even LOOKS like him when she has her fits, it's creepy. If he wasn't running around naked half the time, bells a-ringing, I might have thought we were harbouring a fugitive hollywood actress.

    Back to the show, granted, it has it's suspense, but I'm still pissed that Damian didn't blow himself up last season and by that making the show into any other show on TV.

  • dref22 Nov 08, 2012

    I totally had to rewind to the scene where brody and Raya were silent for a moment, because this show is THAT good. In the prior episodes, we saw how Carrie managed to break Brody down and now it feels like it's Brody's turn. It's fun to see how things change so fast in this show, but the change is always so believable.

  • TypeB Nov 07, 2012

    If it turns out that Brody had indeed communicated with Roya through his hand signal thing (that Carrie suspected before), Saul would freak out.

  • JonWinter1 Nov 06, 2012

    i think Brody relayed his status with the CIA during his conversation with Roya, but with blinking possibly or other facial movements. Their cameras only saw Roya's face and it looked like they were communicating non-verbally when that guy was standing near them.

    The box the fake SWAT team took probably had more than just materials used to make explosives. Probably some important documents with names and locations. I think their presence showed that Roya was given more info than her own notions, which probably came from Brody.

    I hope this show goes deeper than Roya and Brody soon. It needs more dramatic irony like it did in the first season with us knowing about the vest and seeing that plan in action, instead of being in the dark with Carrie most of the time.

  • emmiegirl Nov 06, 2012

    Each week I find myself hating Roya more and more; I just realized there is a double standard in my mind and I think female terrorists are exponentially worse than male terrorists. All you Jungians feel free to chime in on that.

    I love the exploration and treatment of trust dynamics that are layered throughout every single scene of this show. Very nearly every character we meet is grappling with trust issues that are massive, whether in their own mind or to the fate of other people or to entire storylines. To whom and to what do we owe our loyalties, and what, if any, are the circumstances upon which it is appropriate or even necessary to question or rescind that loyalty? What do we do, how do we live, if we cannot trust our elected officials, our security professionals, our community leaders, our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends, our families, our partners, even ourselves?

    The internal struggle Carrie is dealing with is spectacular, and watching her each episode tightrope-walk the razor's edge is breathtaking. I am so terribly impressed and humbled by Claire Danes' performances and the quality of writing of this show. Anyone who has struggled with or supported a loved one struggling with this spectrum of mental illness is likely to be familiar with the turmoil Carrie faces now as she struggles with trying to live her life following treatment, in the absence of trust in her grasp on reality, and I want to acknowledge the compassion and realism the show has devoted to the issue without over-dramatizing it. Danes is the perfect combination of fragile and resilient, reticent and impatient, uncertain and desperate, withdrawn and needy, as Carrie second-guesses herself about everything, worries that others believe her judgment is compromised, and carries the weight of stopping the next big terrorist attack on US soil.

    For most people, the inner turmoil of living with metal illness is something we will never think of, our judgment and worldview and entire thought-process, always in the background, keeping us safe within our personal universes, moving us forward smoothly, choosing the appropriate connections, helping us avoid the inappropriate. I find myself thinking though, how anyone might be affected if forced to accept that something we believed to be profoundly true was "in fact" false, and because of this the people in our lives concluded that our attachment to "reality" was compromised and effected their behavior accordingly. I think any of us would flounder with trying to reintegrate with that reality. And, if after all that, to learn that thing we believed to be profoundly true was "in fact" not false but true after all, how would we feel, what would we believe about ourselves, about the people in our lives? What could we believe? Because hey, the damage is done, we've just spent a year thinking we're crazy AND wrong. and came to believe that, and now we're...what? (Seriously, if you don't know, it is WAY better to be crazy and Right.)

    I am in no way implying that Carrie's illness had not become acutely symptomatic and unmanageable, or that Saul and even Estes were not acting appropriately in removing her from her position; she wasn't managing her illness and needed to seek out treatment. But I cannot help but wonder how someone not diagnosed with mental illness might be affected by the same events and circumstances. Would any of us not worry about our grasp on reality? And if we added romantic love into the whole morass, how shaky would any of us be with that? (And Ok, what does it say about me that I love, love, love Carrie even more because not only is our girl crazy AND Right, but she knows Brody is a liar, a traitor and a terrorist and she still loves him?)

  • bristow18 Nov 07, 2012

    (And Ok, what does it say about me that I love, love, love Carrie even more because not only is our girl crazy AND Right, but she knows Brody is a liar, a traitor and a terrorist and she still loves him?)

    Can I just say that I adore what you've written and this last bit resonates with me the most because that is exactly how I feel. Her interrogation of Brody last week was interlaced with moments of absolute beauty and brilliance. I love how this show deals with these two.

  • bluemorphotat Nov 10, 2012

    Love is a complicated thing:

    - Children will love their parents even when their parents abuse them (sad).

    - People will lover their spouses even if they are abused by them (sad and sick, since as an adult you should know better and recognize the relationship as unhealthy.)

    - People will lover members of their family even if they are criminals ( difficult to handle and reconcile.)

    There is no easy answer...

  • emmiegirl Nov 07, 2012

    Thank you, great to meet like-minded fan. These characters are absolutely captivating and their story is so compelling. For me, Carrie's love for Brody is what love, in it's strongest, deepest expression is meant to be, because truly loving someone means loving them in spite of, even because of their faults. Carrie sees Brody, the broken but not destroyed man, and she knows what it is to be broken but not destroyed.

    I cannot imagine where their story will take them, but I am thrilled to see it unfold.

  • BobbyK12 Nov 06, 2012

    Quick question: while I ascribe to the potential quadruple agent theory of Brody, and while Carrie (and we) have no reason to trust Brody, why would she really think Brody tipped off Roya about Gettysburg? Carrie is listening when Roya tells Brody that they have been watching the tailor shop and the FBI has been surveiling it for a while and has decided to go in, Roya knows the safe is in there, there is a decent chance they'll find it if they rip the place apart, why wouldn't Roya order the attack? As I said, I think Brody could definitely be a quadruple agent (mostly because it seems so silly that it took years to convert him to suicide status and in about half an hour Carrie convinces him back), but I think this was more a misdirect to make us think he told Roya.

  • DavidJackson8 Nov 06, 2012

    I love that 8 seconds or so of Brody and Roya just looking around and possibly talking to each other through their eyes, hehe. It definitely seems like season 1 Homeland, where the writers seemingly put these types of situations in JUST so us viewers can make fairly logical yet wild hypotheses about them. In particular, I remember when people theorized Estes gave the prisoner the razor blade just because it showed Estes touch the top of the table for a second on the security camera footage. Oh, Homeland.

    This episode seemingly had a one-off misdirect as well, casting Seth Gilliam as one of the agents at the tailor's shop, and the only one who's name was pointed out. He's certainly well-known enough for many viewers to recognize him... if other viewers were anything like me, they'd have thought: "Oh, damn, he's gonna be a mole or something" then watch the shootout and see that he's the first one shot and think: "Oh snap!"

    I'm a little indifferent about the shootout. On the one hand, it was pretty awesome and definitely surprising. On the other hand, it seems a little over-the-top... Quinn had just stated to Chapman that residents were probably watching because it's a small town, then a moment later a full in-gear swat team strolls in and shoots a bunch of people and just strolls out? Meh. I guess this is one of those situations where I find it a bit far-fetched but awesome as well, at the same time.

  • BobbyK12 Nov 06, 2012

    I don't find it far-fetched that they could "stroll in or out" unabated - people would probably just think they're actual SWAT or something - but I do find it slightly more far-fetched that Abu Nazir has a SWAT team on call in Virginia.

  • kavselj Nov 06, 2012

    Well they don't necessarily have to be a SWAT team. Merely sleeper agents with some guns and full body SWAT armor. For a terrorist cell such as Abu Nazir's acquiring something like that shouldn't be a problem.

    @DavidJackson8: The funniest scene for me was when Carrie entered Brody's car to tell him to go meet with Roya. Brody then casually walked away from the car with Carrie still inside. I mean, do people in the US leave their cars unlocked? I kept waiting for him to tell her to get out or something but she just sat there while he walked away :P

  • XY Nov 06, 2012

    Haha the car scene struck me, too. I figure he had one of these cars which lock themselves automatically after half a minute but still can be opened from the inside.

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