Homeland: A Matter of Trust

Up until the last minutes of last night's episode of Homeland, today's morning-after conversation was headed in a completely different direction than the one we're about to have. Last week's "Weekend" put our foreheads on the end of a baseball bat, spun us around a few times, and made us chug a beer before running an obstacle course, as Brody's former Marine-mate was discovered alive and in cahoots with Abu Nazir. It was a twist no one saw coming, and it shamed us for thinking Brody was a terrorist all along. "Achilles Heel" un-twisted things so that we ended up back where we started, but spinning us around in the opposite direction doesn't negate the effects of the first turns, it only compounds them. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Now please bear with me while I express a concern with my favorite new show.

For some fans, there's going to be some justified apprehension moving forward with Homeland. You're forgiven if, when Brody turned up in the living room of the diplomat's house and admitted (to us) that he's been working with Abu Nazir all along, you said, "Oh it's one of these shows." Trust is a bond formed between a show and its viewers, and when one week is spent intentionally throwing us off the scent of one plot only to put us right back on it the next week, a bit of that trust is broken.

In Homeland's first half-dozen episodes, it was the ambiguity of the situation that had us all riveted. Is Brody a sleeper agent? Why is he doing [insert suspicious activity here]? Maybe he's doing it for [insert reason here]. We tortured ourselves with these questions because there were no definitive answers. In "The Weekend," we got one: It wasn't Brody who was turned. But that was misinformation, and there's a huge difference between misinformation and ambiguity.

It's a slippery slope for a television show like Homeland to navigate. We're at the mercy of what we're presented with, and a lot of what we're being presented with is purposefully cloudy and incorrect. I've compared this show to FX's and DirecTV's Damages in the past, and when that show was great, it trickled out details and made us oscillate between looking at the show under a microscope and looking at it through a telescope. When the show wasn't that great, it told us one thing one week and then said, "Ha ha, J/K!" the next week.

Homeland isn't in dangerous territory yet (please don't take the above paragraphs as negative critique of Homeland, they're not), and subsequent episodes are what will really dictate whether the series is going to rely too heavily on the twist/not-a-twist format that can debilitate a program. What I think works in Homeland's favor is that it's a show about a complex terrorism cover-up, so leads will be misleading, intelligence will be unintelligent, and twists will be twisted, untwisted, and re-twisted at will. I still adore the show, but wanted to open up the forum to others who may be feeling a little concern over a possible twist-o-rama. Until Homeland makes fake-outs a regular thing, it will remain a fantastic show that's a must-see each week.

To its credit, Homeland did a good job of handling its double-cross, because we got confirmation that Brody has been working with the terrorists at the same time he got pissed off at them. Brody is now in a really foggy position with his secret employers. He didn't know Walker was still alive, and now he feels like a pawn in a greater plan instead of its central star. Does he now help the CIA against Abu Nazir, or does he get back in bed with them? And will Brody take the opportunity to run for office? I'm also not so convinced he's in with Al Qaeda with both feet in the first place. Heck, this is Homeland, I'm not convinced of anything right now except that it's been a fantastic show so far.

Notes:
– Pre-twisty ending, I was already planning this write up and thought Homeland was doing a pretty bang-up job of taking itself in a direction where the mystery of "is he/isn't he?" was no longer the driving force. That's a credit to the characters on the show, who I've come to really like. The relationships between Saul, Carrie, and Brody (as well as their own individual relationships with their friends and family) are some of the best on TV right now, and that alone is enough to keep the show going. The doubt about Brody and the threat of domestic terrorism only adds to the experience.

– Did anyone really think Brody was in the clear after "The Weekend" told us he wasn't turned?

– Saul is a really slow typist. That amuses me.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Sorry so late on this, just watched it now. Loving the ride, where ever we're going, with this show.



-These characters are complete in a way that most characters on TV are not right now. Most of that, I think, goes to dialogue and actions that are, from a plot/storytelling point of view, almost completely irrelevant. It's those little things between Brody and his wife, Carrie, in the midst of a massive terrorist manhunt worrying about whether or not she'll ever find that perfect man, or Saul's wife reciting the chart of disappointments back at him that makes them real. These are people whose daily life problems are as stupid and mundane as yours and mine in addition to having a super awesome crazy backwards messed up job. I like it.

-Nope, I knew that there was still more information to come out. And you're right, they're walking a tight line. As long as they keep presenting it as just more information coming out rather than making a big deal out of each twist, I think we'll be good. It's when the shows put too much emphasis on each twist just to put more emphasis twisting it back the other way that they start to lose people.

-No comment.
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what to say, Homeland is proving to be the best new series this season.



Having said this, my thoughts turn to the writers. DO NOT MAKE THE MISTAKE to completely change the characters as in Fringe ...

I think we all enthusiasts of the plotline of Brody, Carrie, Saul ...



There were no doubts that Brody had something going on from the beginning (even if I didn't want to admit to myself that he is the sleeper agent), too many signs.

And I must say that I like the turn that the story take. But what about the future?



The possibilities are two:

- Brody against all

- Brody, works for the CIA



I honestly would find it difficoult to accept another turn of events,

where we are told that Brody is still a sleeper agent (don't touch Carrie and Brody... the others can change how many times they want).

I also believe that Saul has somehing going on, but I don't know what.

While Carrie has finally realized one thing, she is in love (have you noticed that when she was with Brody she didn't take the pills?)
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This is the first recap I read about Homeland cause I was a little behind so I don't know if anyone suggested it, but--doesn't Saul seem a little suspicious? I always thought so, and then the polygraph cleared him as much as it had cleared Brody. We still don't know who passed the razorblade. Is the show playing with my mind about Saul too? God, this show is engaging.
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My father was a POW for 8 months in Germany in World War II, so I have a deep sympathy for what POW's go through. I think the terrible suffering that Brody endured has been made very obvious to us, and under those conditions I can understand why Brody would follow the orders of Nazir. Nazir offered him comfort and food and was kind to him, that means a lot to a POW who is only getting tortured by others. He was a beaten and broken man, and his mind was not his own.



I believe that Nazir ordered Brody to give the prisoner the razor blade, and Brody agrees to do things now that he would have done anyway. He thought that Nazir cared for him as a fellow human being, and so he wanted to please him, even after returning home. Now that Brody knows Nazir has lied to him about Walker, he will no longer want to do his bidding. But his will not be easy, if he doesn't do as Nazir says he will be killed as will his family. So, he's going to have to tell Carrie about all this somehow. Or, he will want to get close to her again to find out what the CIA knows. I just don't see how he's going to get out of his predicament without Nazir going down, and how can he take on Nazir by himself?



I think this is how his role in the show continues into next season, with us wondering what will happen to Brody and his family. I think his loyalty and allegiance lies with his wife & family now, and the only reason he'll get together with Carrie will be to help save he & his family's lives. Knowing what we know of Brody though (he has a lot of Jack Bauer from 24 in him) he thinks he can deal with his problems himself. He will try and go it alone for awhile, without much success, and then enlist her help. But I see the affair between Carrie & Brody only continuing because of Brody's need for info, and Carrie's lonliness. Brody needs Carrie for the wrong reasons, so I don't see how it will last unfortunately.
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Fantastic episode, fantastic show. Every minute of Homeland is amazing. There isnt a second not worth watching. And it plays great games with your mind. I'm questioning everything at this point. Maybe I'm the terrorist?
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I never thought Brody was in the clear. I suspected that he'd be seen (by the viewers or the other characters, or both) as a terrorist again. However, I didn't really expect them to address it right away; I figured they'd make it seem like Tom's the only one working with Nazir for a few episodes, then maybe at the season finale, they'd shine the suspicion on Brody again. But I'm really liking the speed and tone of the show, and loved that they only waited for most of one episode before showing us that Brody is, at some level, working with Nazir.



Also, I really don't expect the twists and turns to happen so often that the show starts to suck. So far, the pacing has been great. If they do decide to make a few more twists before this season ends, I'm confident that they'll do it effectively and not just for cheap thrills. Plus, what the writers have on their side is that, as you briefly stated, Homeland is a show about a complex terrorism cover-up, so misleads, twists, and unintelligent intelligence, are to be logically expected. It's just great that the writers have done such a wonderful job so far of not making them cheesy (yet). 24 did a great job with twists and turns; it was just the "fact" that every season was happening within 24 hours that made having so many twists a little lame.
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I thought is was a good move from the writers establishing now - once and for all - that Brody was indeed working with Abu Nazir. The only thing throwing us off of his scent was the fact that we knew another POW had been turned. Having 2 POWs turned and anouncing it soon in the game was a stroke of genius. More so 'cause we already like his caracter and fell emotionally conected to him but haven't became too invested in his inocence to feel backstabed as viewers by this twist on a twist. I honestly think that even though not knowing was fun, now that we do know but all suspitions surrounding him are cleared, we will be able to enjoy a great suspense like in a hitchcock movie where you want to warn Greace Kelly she has to leave the apartment 'cause the bad man is coming through the door.
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I was pretty surprised by the end of sundays episode. Not about Brody beeing somehow involved with terrorsits. We knew that he lied about certain things and that he is very good at it. So, if you believe anything he says it's pretty much your own fault. I was much more surprised with his reaction. I don't think when they reasoned him into betraying his own country, like, "Hey don't you think your whole imperialism sucks, and what's up with your Housewifes over there", I think they break you and brainwash you. Like Marie Walker on 24, remember her, that was some great sleeper agent.

But still, Carries question in the first episode is for me the most valid. Why did they keep him around for eight years. Gotta be a hassle, right. Anyway, maybe something even bigger is under way.
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The "who-done-it" plot device (also used in Damages, 24, and The Killing) is probably the cheapest trick in the book on how to write stories. It creates characters just to break them down, resulting in people that you think you know, but really don't. This story format tends to create characters that function on two competing levels: one personality to build a foundation for the character's side stories, their relationships with others, and their general dialogue, and the other personality to propel the main plot forward. What usually happens as a result is you get vague character shells running around doing things completely opposite of the character that the show has originally defined, completely victim to not what has happened to the character in the show's past, but victim to what the screen-writer has in store for him/her next.



Homeland has done a fine job with this plot direction, and one could argue that it's the characters that make this show worth watching. But that is how this way of writing can be one slippery slope, if the characters you originally loved have changed completely because they have hidden motives, will you really like them anymore?



The ultimate twist to this type of story-telling is when the original suspicion is the actual truth. So all the smoking mirrors and red-herrings will be just waste a time, because Brody really is a terrorist, and all those hours you spent getting to know all these characters that aren't really how they seem, that would be a waste too.



One could argue that it adds complexity and mystery, but it could also end up being one colossal waste of time. I'm cautiously optimistic.
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Carrie: You have to press enter.

Classic
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One of the brilliance of this show is that it completely makes you forget the big picture. she are so fixated on the Carrie, Brody story we are forgetting things like who tipped of the couple living at the airport, who slipped the razor to the prisoner, is there a nation state behind Abu Nazir? What is going to be the impact of the two muslims killed in the mosque? Somehow these things will come back in to the story and we all go Oh S**t again. (in a good way)
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Flighttight has a valid point here. On its face, it's implausible that a CIA agent who still thinks she's partly responsible that 9/11 could happen ("Everybody missed something that day."- "Everybody is not me!") would let go off her suspicions that easily. I'm kind of annoyed too. But on the other hand, we shouldn't forget that Carrie has some sort of psychological illness. The writers always go to great lengths to ensure that we are aware of that and that she's supposed to take her medication and (sometimes) doesn't. This has to be relevant somehow. It appears to cause her to lose her inhibitions (letting herself to fall in love with the suspect) and now her emotions clearly cloud her judgment. So in some way it's a variation on the old theme that love makes fools out of people. But I think she will be on top of her game again soon. And probably her lying to the polygraph will come back to haunt her. Her mental illness/drug abuse could be used to undermine her credibility or get her a suspension. (Raising suspicions about a candidate in a political race will surely get her some strong enemies.) - And Brody might have some qualms about what he does (whatever that is). Sometimes he almost appears to feel guilty. That's how I read the expression in his face when Jessica made that compliment while they were returning home from the party, for example. But, admittedly, with this show one has to be cautious about making such inferences.



Saul's reaction can be explained too: he had his doubts about the intelligence all along and he doesn't have the same information as Carrie does. E.g. he doesn't know that Brody is able to beat a lie detector. I bet he will be pissed off when he finds out that Carrie hasn't told him everything.



I agree with Flighttight that it very much depends on where they move the plot next/on the ending if this show belongs to the best. But we sure have a great time finding out. So right now IMO the show is still on track!

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Also, eventually this show is gonna need to stop leaning on twists and allow us to know who these people are and where they stand. This show needs to stay a human drama first, thriller second, if it's gonna be worth watching for multiple seasons. A big twist at the end of every other episode undoes so much of the show's groundwork, and eventually it just becomes redundant and silly. I'm out if Saul or David end up being moles. That types a sh*t is just not necessary with show.
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The problem with the reveal isn't that it feels like the show lied to us. The problem is in the execution. That final scene was horribly melodrama and over the top, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Also, the writers said flat-out in an interview that episode seven (The Weekend) was going to tell us whether Brody is innocent or not. So, in that respect I feel lied to. Plus, and most damaging, I think they've undermined the intelligence of the lead character. If Walker was turned then of course there's a good chance Brody was turned as well. Why else would they also keep him alive for all these years. It just makes sense for the CIA to be suspicious of him. And... finally, the big picture just doesn't make any sense. If Brody is meant to be become a politician then no one in the CIA can find out about his ties to the terrorist group. Carrie and Saul were suspicious. And now we have one known turned POW. It just makes no sense that all suspicions of Brody would be dropped. It makes Carrie look stupid.



They need to have her find out about Brody before the end of the season, or they need to avoid Brody becoming a politician, otherwise, things are bound to get silly and more undermining of characters' intelligence will happen.
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This show along with "Sons of Anarchy" are the best dramas currently airing and the only two must watch live shows as well. Its going to be a long wait to "Game of Thrones" once both are finished with their respective seasons.
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I've enjoyed Saul's storyline and its impact on how he handles Carrie. The further he falls into depression the more he lets out the reins on Carrie. I don't think the Double Twist is going to fool Carrie.
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I didn't see that coming (Brody being sleeper agent or whatever), my jaw hit the floor when it was him in that guys house/office thing. I thought after last week and the lie detector test and the Q&A with Carrie that he was in the clear and Tom was the sleeper.



I actually think it makes the story much more interesting that both have been turned - but their stories are very different. I agree 100% that Brody is a just a pawn in Abu Nazir's games. But I do think Brody has one foot on each side so to speak. He doesn't seem sure of which side he is on. 50/50.
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Every episode confirms it: HOMELAND is the best new fall season show!!!!! (By far)
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I'm with the others here. There was no misinformation in The Weekend". The show just told us that Walker has been turned which turned out to be true this week. One thing that's so great about Homeland is that it forces us to second-guess every protagonist's (re)actions and motives all the time. If we believe them too easily, our fault. And I think I'm not the only one who was surprised that Carrie and Saul would jump to the conclusion that Brody had to be innocent after it was established that Walker was turned. It was psychologically plausible, though: Saul had his doubts all along and Carrie has really fallen in love with Brody (as was confirmed this week) so maybe that's just what she wanted to believe. But the viewers should know better by now! Anyway, we still don't know the exact nature of Brody's involvement with the terrorists so let's be cautious. - Tim is right, though, that it would be tiring if the whole season would just be a guessing-game with the show one week leading us to believe that Brody is a terrorist and the next week that he's a saint. So I hope that the ending of this week's episode set the stage to move a step further. It certainly opened up a lot of interesting possibilities!



It's great that so much time is devoted to character-development and relationships. There were some very moving scenes in this episode. And there was humor, too: the FBI guys really lived up to every movie-cliche...



BTW, I liked Morena Baccarin's acting in this episode. So IMO the last doubts about the cast have been settled: everybody is great!

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The comment section of last week (and this one so far) was pretty straight forward : plenty of us were still suspicious about Brody. The reason of that doubt, more than all the previous twists of early episodes, is that Carrie's fundamental question still has no answer : why did Abu Nazir kept Brody alive for so long. It was obviously not for certifying Walker's death as he was already considered dead. The answer is the key to the season (and the show) and it seems that we getting closer and closer to get it. The only one sure thing is that Brody is everything but completely innocent.

So to me, this is not a fake-out like we are used to see in less precise drama (I'm absolutely not talking about Ringer... or maybe).



Now that Walker is in the wind, it could be a good idea to pay a visit to Latif, the dude that sold the necklace from the dead hooker/CI. But I'm no CIA so let's see what the next move !



This show is outstanding. I don't know what they have in mind for the second season (it has been renewed right ?). I just hope they don't stretch the concept like they did with Damages.
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Brody didn't say HOW he was working with Abu Nazir. With this show, I wouldn't assume that meant he was a terrorist. I'm hoping that is more subtle than the hero/terrorist dichotomy. I think that Brody will be doing the right thing in the end, but for the wrong reasons.
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I admit after Carrie interrogated Brody at the cabin and Saul rang with the bombshell about Walker I thought Brody was a victim of mistaken identity based on the intell. Brody is a phenomenal liar, and he must be truly tickled with himself about how well he has played Carrie - symphonic. I think he will derive more than his fair share of traction out of her guilt over her "mistake" and cannot wait to see how far he is able to take it. I just hope he has an inkling of how crazy that woman is, because when she figures out the double-cross there will not be a hole deep enough on this earth to hide him from her fury.
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Personally I like being kept on my feet, it only gets old if (like you mentioned) they do it over and over for the hell of it without any real direction or decent plot writing skills. I don't think the show has gotten anywhere near that category so I'm not complaining yet. And no I didn't think Brody was in the clear after "The Weekend". It made me suspect him even more. Saul typing was hilarious, it made me wonder how in the hell he got into the CIA being that computer illiterate, for a second I thought he was operating a time machine or something, he looked that confused by it.
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You know Abu Nazir will WANT Brody to take whatever position they have in mind (Cant remember which office it was). It may even have been Brody's part in the "plan" in the first place. Walker is potential killer/sleeper and dupe, while they draw suspicion away from Brody and slip him into Office.
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fabulous episode. This show gets better and better each week. did not see the ending coming! I don't care about the twists and turns, if Brody IS a terrorist it';s hardly his fault, with what he's been through anyone would lose it.
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I could not disagree with you more. While Brody's most primal imperative is to survive, no matter what, as soon as he hit Germany and began debriefing he should have told the interrogators everything Abu Nazir wanted of him, everything he had seen, heard and agreed to, everything he knew. Period. Beyond being tortured, Brody was an adult, with family ties and a good life in the US, and no amount of Stockholm syndrome would absolve him of culpability in plotting with terrorists against his own country, against the country of his children. He is not mentally unstable, delusional, or dissociated from reality, HE IS A TRAITOR. PTSD does not account for his defection, and to suggest that his torture does is an insult to POWs who bravely face the trials of their captivity in service to their countries.
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How can you possibly judge what you don't understand. YOU are guilty of naivete compounded by ignorance.
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Emmiegirl has some points which are neither naive nor ignorant, although it might be a little too early to call Brody a traitor. While amschafe eloquently explains how somebody could break under torture and maybe give up important intelligence that still doesn't explain how somebody could be turned into a fanatic terrorist. I think this is highly implausible, especially with a patriotic guy with a nice family as Brody. Usually converts/domestic terrorists are people who already felt somehow alienated (see Aileen in last week's episode). The screenwriters will have a hard time to maintain credibility if it turns out that way.



But - as amschafe writes - let's not forget that we're still in the dark about the exact nature of Brody's involvement with the terrorists, so it's too early to judge/denounce Brody or the screenwriters - but also too early to let them off the hook.

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I find it remarkable how someone can presume to know how a person would react to 8 years of systemic torture and brainwashing. Also, If living in a hole doesn't make you feel alienated, I don't know what will. Just because it isn't a usual circumstance, doesn't make it impossible. Take a page out of amschafe's book and broaden your perspective.
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And to add to my post:



I'm guessing that Nazir manipulated Brody day after day, while his minions tortured him, by showing him kindness in order to create some kind of bond in this seemingly hopeless situation.



And I'm sure they did the same with Walker. They had Brody beat him to survive, then probably reminded Walker day after day that Brody turned on him and manipulated him that way.



This is all a case of people being used, in the most horrible way. Torture is one thing. I think if it had just been physical, Brody and Walker could have withstood.



But this was crushing and reshaping of the mind, body, and soul. These two men were played like violins, and I cannot blame them for not withstanding until the end. I'm sorry, but I can't.



But as I said before, I'm not convinced at all of Brody's actual agenda and I also think it's obvious that his motivations are layered and unclear, as well as his intentions.
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I appreciate and respect that everyone has an opinion, even if expressing yours entails insulting me, and I can respect and empathize with the compassion that you evidence in your argument. My own perspective is deeply colored by generations of military dependent life, and while I also feel a deep sense of compassion and empathy at the idea of what Sgt Brody suffered at the hands of his torturers, I am not so naive nor ignorant as to presume that I can even imagine what it must have been like, nor the effect such horrors would have on a human being.



What I can tell you unequivocally is that pathology and victimization are not a justification nor an affirmative defense in Sgt Brody's and Sgt Walker's cases. I can tell you that these are trained Marines, enlisted boys who undergo intense and rigorous training, and while no amount of training could possibly prepare anyone for 8 years of physical and psychological torture and captivity, Brody and Walker have no moral, legal or rational justification for aiding and abetting the cause and actions of Abu Nazir, a terrorist in a personal war of attrition against the United States.



Look, I do not presume to know what sort of plot twists the writers plan or what Brody might or might not be up to, but I stand by my position on his actions: I was stating a fact rather than making a judgment. He has perjured himself at the very least and in the commission of this alone has committed treason, and unless he is in fact operating under the authority of a sanctioned operation, he is a traitor. If or when he or Walker kills someone he will be a murderer and a terrorist, and there is no justification to be found in your impassioned, sympathetic argument for the perpetuation of violence on US soil against the very people these men swore to defend with their lives. More than that, to attempt to defend and justify these bad acts is intolerably insulting to the proud men and women of the US Armed Forces.



I doubt any one of us looks at Nic Brody and Tom Walker and does not feel a visceral level of compassion, and I can understand that people want to intellectualize and rationalize the actions of these men, but that is a trap and it is an excuse, and it is a terrible precedent to contemplate where do we draw the line with the terrible things people do if all they need to offer society and their victims is their own victimization as a rationalization?
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I think you are looking at this from a narrow perspective.



This guy was tortured and brainwashed for 8 years. This is an extremem situation for a POW. A person can resist only so much. Everyone has the breaking point. We can't judge until we've walked in their shoes, and I think it's safe to assume noone commenting here has been tortured and brainwashed for 8 years.



Notice Nazir had his minions torture Brody, and then set it up so that he was the only one who showed him kindness. That's psychological and emotional manipulation at it's best.



The whole point of this show is that nothing is black and white, and that includes Brody's situation and state of mind.

This is not a cut and dry case of PTSD, it's just not that simple. That is the least of it.

You can't say he's a liar and traitor and be done with it. You have to ask yourself, if you had been in the same situation, would you have been able to hold on? Locked in a dark room for 8 years, tortured, manipulated, brainwashed, etc. Would you really?



And you're ignoring the fact that Brody is obviously not, as others have said, both feet in on the other side.



And we don't even know his true agenda yet. Brody is a liar, yes, but so is everyone on this show. And I mean everyone. I think it's premature to push him into a slot based off one episode.



And there's also the fact that

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Well said.
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I completely agree with dustpanboy - it was not 100% whether Brody was being really honest during the 'Weekend' or whether he was just very well prepared... saul believed the blonde girl on the guy she recognised visiting the roof of the airport house... was she honest? or re-directing suspicions away from Brody.... and we still do not know what Brody has agreed to do something for Abu Nazir.. we do know he feels betrayed (pretty naturally) for having been led to believe he had killed Walker... but it is all still pretty unclear as to who is doing what and why...
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I never took last episode as them telling us Brody wasn't a terrorist. For me, the only thing I knew they were saying was that Walker is alive and he is a terrorist. Brody's role in the plot was still up in the air. We know he's a liar so you can never trust his words. Just because he makes Carrie believe he is innocent does not mean we should've believed that. I didn't feel twisted at the end of the episode this week. It made sense to me
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Exactly what I was thinking. I didn't mark Brody off my list for a second. In fact it just reinforced that he was probably apart of it which was proved correct this past episode. I LOVE this freaking show.
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