Homeland: The Reason Behind Brody's Reasoning

Homeland changed its pace a lot last night, trading the buckets-of-ice-water-in-the-face twists and tension for a bit of backstory and Carrie insisting that she is not going to let [something] get away in every scene she's in. To me, "Crossfire" was the first bump in the road for a show that has been pretty close to flawless. But another, more diplomatic way to describe it would be "a badly needed deep breath and explanation for how Brody got to be where he is today."

Much of the episode flashed back to three years ago, when Brody started shaking hands with Abu Nazir, the CIA's number-one target. We'd seen bits and pieces of Brody meeting him before, most notably when Brody was dug out of a hole and given a feast of fruit by Nazir. After that flashback, Brody admitted to loving Nazir, which was understandable. Here was a guy being trained against his will for the World's Smelliest Man competition, and a stranger plucked him from the filth and loneliness of captivity and treated him like a human being for the first time in years. But we didn't know what really made Brody turn against his country, we simply sympathized with him.

Enter Isa (spelling?), Nazir's son. Nazir asked Brody to teach Isa English in what I'm assuming was a bit of psychological warfare intended to soften the Marine he'd been keeping locked up in his basement. And it worked. The innocence of a child was used to blur the lines between who is evil and who is eviler. Brody came to understand that even the enemy has a family, essentially seeing things from an entirely different perspective and forming a bond with this little rugrat. And when that child and dozens of others were killed in an American-led predator drone strike (5-kill kill streak reward!), Nazir said to Brody, "And they call us terrorists." I think that's the story of how Brody was turned, but there's still room for more specific details to come out, and I hope Homeland uses that room to fill in the holes.

I still don't know if I buy it or not, but turning against your country—one that you believed in enough, at least at one point, to join its military—because a child of the "enemy" was killed isn't an easy story to swallow. It would seem that with a clearer mind and the grief of the tragedy dispelled over time, Brody would realize that both sides have suffered casualties in this pointless war. I'm assuming that several of Brody's comrades were killed in action, and let's not forget about something that happened in September of 2011 2001. (Yikes. Thanks, @headclub!) Neither side is winning, and Brody showed signs of realizing as much earlier this season, when he stood firm and declared he would never be taking orders from the military or the government again. (At the time, it seemed to establish his anger with the war as a whole. However, it may have been stressing the roots of his Anti-Americanism.) It's possible that Brody still loves his country, he just doesn’t like the people who run it or guard it. But we didn't get much solid information from the flashback that supposedly showed us why he decided to turn.

It may have been more effective to stretch out Brody's relationship with Isa over two episodes, in order to fully convince the audience of their bond and make the loss feel more powerful; the half-an-episode it got just wasn't enough to make me believe such an event could've had the effect the show is claiming it had. We're not talking about a man choosing what to have for lunch, we're talking about a man reversing everything that's ingrained in his brain and siding with the bad guys who made him kill his friend with his bare hands (or so he thought). I won't dismiss the idea that Brody was so incredibly psychologically damaged from being imprisoned that he was susceptible to making extreme decisions after seeing his first subsequent meaningful relationship destroyed, but that wasn't adequately portrayed. Perhaps Abu Nazir is a genius when it comes to social and behavioral psychology, or maybe that bath Brody took was that good. But on the surface, I wasn't too satisfied with the explanation for why Brody turned against his country. I'm hoping we learn more down the line.

This is one of the problems that Homeland has always faced. Providing a convincing argument for why a man—nay, a MARINE—would turn on his country is a tall order. But it had to come soon after answering the question of whether or not Brody was indeed working with the terrorists, so I commend the Homeland writers for addressing it as quickly as they did. I just wish the reasoning was a little more rock solid. I thought the writers did a better job of showing us why rich white-girl Aileen joined the "bad guys," but that was largely due to Saul cracking the case along with us and a transformation that took place over several years. We don't know how long Brody was working with Isa. As an audience, we can often sense that time is passing between scenes and multiply it in our minds to guesstimate how much time two characters have spent together. We didn't get that with Isa and Brody; Isa could have learned the words to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" over a weekend.

Elsewhere, Carrie was back to being old Carrie, repeating the same desperate outcries she used on Brody in her new quest to get information out of the Imam of the mosque the FBI clusterf***ed. It was a bit jarring, especially after Carrie's personal manhunt of the first eight episodes, but this is where we are. The roadblock with getting this new information is the Imam, who wants the FBI to admit it screwed up. Unfortunately, this game of chess is a lot less interesting (so far) than what we tangled with before.

Homeland is in a bit of a reset mode now that we know Tom Walker is alive and working with Nazir, Brody is confirmed to be working with the terrorists, and the relationship between Brody and Carrie is on the back burner. That last bit hurts the most, as it was one of the most unexpected and interesting stories on television in years. But there's plenty to get excited about looking forward, as the dust is still settling from the pre-Walker days. Brody is primed to run for office and get closer to the vice president (the same guy who orchestrated the bombing that killed Isa), Walker is still a wild card whose motives and instructions aren't clear, and Carrie is bound to get on the trail of Brody again, and you know what that means: more tequila shots and spitting in the faces of white supremacists!

Notes:

– Did you notice that Brody was shopping for Vitamin Water... NEAR THE COUS COUS!?!? Geez, guy! At least try to hide your terrorist leanings!

– Poor Dan the Hunter. He was just out hunting and looking at Walker's awesome gun when he accidentally recognized him. R.I.P. buddy.

– I love that Jessica said, "America's a violent country, what can I tell you?" at the end to Brody. But what was with the weird cut to black and the weird song? That was a page totally ripped from True Blood's book, and not fitting of Homeland's tone. Weird, weird, weird.


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

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I love the show, and I do not have a problem with Brody waking up and accepting Nazir's kindness, he was already shown it at different points of his capture. What I have a problem with is several times when he is shown during the capture he is clean shaved, when he was "killing" Walker and several other times of his torment, but when he was taken for the son's teaching he was shaved again, and that growth was years, and two years later we see him again being found at the start of the show with years growth again???
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I'm loving Homeland!!! Never been much of a claire danes fan but I'm liking this character..I think they want to give us backstory but do it in 30 mins because there is alot of material and alot of cast so the writers can't spend too much time on these plot points. I think Sgt. Brody is a very confused man..he is not against his country just the politics of his country. I love this show and hope it keeps getting picked up for renewal!! JMO
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I think Brody is an intelligent man and was not as weak as Walker. That's why they decided to turn Walker into the plain and simple terrorist (his plan is clearly to shoot someone in this M-1 reserve spot in the airport) and use Brody as a politician. So speaking about Anti-Americanism about him is just not right. His behavior is far to be as robotic and blind as Walker's one. His rebellion in last week ep was a good demonstration of that.

Bottom Line is : Brody is working for Brody. He's not a terrorist and I don't think he would participate in any attack resulting into hurting innocent people.



About his relationship with Aisa. I agree with you Tim. Even though we understand what we've seen, it would have been better to witness their relationship a bit longer. But I think the episode would have seemed empty without the end of the story. Maybe this episode should have been just about this relationship and not showed us Carrie's search for intel. We would have felt more deeply the situation imo.
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Im not so sure USA was behind the atttck that killed Isa. Te news-guy said it wasnt. But it would make a lot of sense if Nazir wanted to win over Brody. If he's really smart and wiling to sacrifice 80+ children including his own son. That might be the way to go.... It did work didnt it?
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I was thinking the same thing! Although I don't think the "Isa" that Brody met was actually Nazir's son. And they cut off the news footage so quickly that it just can't be the whole story, right?! Hmmmm...
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Sept. 2001...not Sept. 2011

EPIC FAIL
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We've since fixed the error. Props to @headclub for catching it first and being a little nicer about it.
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BTW: That the director of the episode knew that the audience would have a "connection-problem" was reflected in the scene where Issa died: he used all the manipulative techniques in the arsenal which ironically only compounded the problem because it made this deficit more obvious. It was in stark contrast to the cinematic style of the show. IMO the weakest scene in this otherwise fantastic series.
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I share the opinion of some others here that it's probably not a question of American hero vs. fanatical terrorist. What we've seen in this week's episode is how Brody's basic belief-system has been shaken. The consequences of this are less clear. Abu Nazir's plans with Brody haven't yet been specified. Maybe they're more subtle, on a political level? Anyway, Brody appears to have more and more qualms. The life with his family has a profound effect on him. Right now he seems to be very confused. He's really a poor guy, being instrumentalized/used by everybody (except his family).



Walker is a different story, though. He appears to be totally broken. I'm curious how his conversion will be explained.



I like the story with the imam. I think it's understandable that he tries to use the knowledge he has as leverage to exact a public apology from the FBI. Imagine what would happen if the Bureau stormed into a Baptist or Methodist church and killed two innocent worshipers. And I think Carrie is handling the situation very well.



That it wasn't until the 9th episode that we talk about a "bump" or a "filler episode" IMO only proves the overall quality of this show!

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You said he sided with the "bad guys" but to me that seems far from black and white in this show. It gives us a realistic picture of how things are, in a war where there is no good side, just two bad sides. He chose one of the bad sides, over a side which abandoned him, killed children (then lied about it), and worst of all, the side which claimed they were the good guys.



I'm not saying terrorists are good -- far from it. I'm saying that it's not so hard to imagine how you can become bitter, after 8 years of being tortured with nobody coming for you.
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Tim, I'm so pleased! You didn't make any comments about Carrie being nuts, crazy, cuckoo, mental etc!

The kid's name is spelled "Issa".

LOVE this show-definitely the best show on Showtime, by far. I'm a big Dexter fan, but that's because of one character-Dexter. Homeland has a TON of great characters: they're smartly written, well acted, and interesting.

I felt this episode was pretty believable for Brody's reasons to put faith in Nazir.

And we still don't know the full extent of his mission: so far it seems he'll be their man on the inside of the U.S. government (as a New Yorker I love the whole Rep. Andrew Weiner politician they've got "Richard (Dick) Johnson"). We don't know if he supports blowing up Americans-my personal feeling is he doesn't. I think he'll try to push for a change in foreign policy.
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While I continue to stand by my vehement opposition to sympathizing with or excusing Brody's affiliation and work with Abu Nazir, I agree the situation is not black and white. I can understand Brody's sense of injustice regarding Isa's death and the US cover-up. This issue of US gov't agencies failing to accept responsibility for innocent casualties was I feel a major theme for this episode, and I would be surprised if we do not see more rise from this before the season closes.



I cannot look at Nic Brody and find that his alliance with Nazir is acceptable but I hope this episode revealed to both Brody and the audience how masterfully manipulative Nazir is. Other commenters have put forth good psychological arguments for Brody's actions, but I wonder if being back in the States will dampen the effect. I am intrigued to see if Brody will wise up to how Nazir is playing him now that he is home and potentially has more to loose. Like some of you all I hope Brody comes clean to Carrie; while I worry that proof of her paranoia being valid might not be very healthy for her (she was pretty agitated this episode) I think she would go out of her way to help Brody - or she would try to use him as a mole to get to Nazir.



How crazy was it that Carrie and Saul drove right past Brody and failed to notice him?
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I'm still not convinced Brody has turned his back on his country. The one thing this episode made clear was that he promised to do something for Abu Nazir, but like many have said, that doesn't necessarily mean terrorism. But speaking of Abu Nazir, I have some problems with the way his character was acting this week. For the supposed number one terrorist in the world (aka a fictional Bin Laden), he seems pretty compassionate and willing to use subtle methods to further his agenda (whatever that is). In reality, the world's highest ranking terrorists are laser-focused on their objectives, with everything they do workign towards that goal. For them, there's no room for other motivations. Other things about him don't seem to fit, either. His dress was very western, especially that gold watch. Also, if America is his sworn enemy, why was he so eager for an impressionable Iraqi boy (whether it's his son or not) to learn English? I don't think Bin Laden was teaching his kids English.

But the final straw in the unbelievability of Abu Nazir's character was the way Brody initially interacted with him. I understand that Nazir had been kind to him in the past, but Brody was still clearly a Marine defending his country by refusing to give up any information. If he was still so committed to his country to endure torture and stay silent, I find it hard to believe that he'd allow himself to be alone in a room with Nazir (before meeting Isa and therefore without the strong personal connection to the man) and not just kill him with his bare hands.
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While I'm sure that the body found in the rubble was indeed Isa's -- it would be kind of hard to fake that -- I'm not yet 100% convinced that the boy was ever Nazir's own son to begin with. Nazir could be exactly the sort of guy who might be playing the Psychological Long Con on Brody. Or not. Stay tuned...

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I agree that I do not think that Issa was Nazir's actual son. And I wonder if Brody will now be able to make the connection that Nazir making him believe he killed Tom Walker is similar to Nazir's connecting him to this child...
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Word.
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I am not sure we know at this point what Brody agreed to do for Abu Nazir - it could be a relatively 'innocent' mission to uncover the lies of the Vice President? Of course once Nazir is in a position to blackmail Brody, he could ask for a lot more (I reckon Brody will find himself pretty entangled down the line...). And I am also not convinced Isa was Nazir's son... he was definitely terrified of Nazir as clear from the scene where he kicks the ball and the tea cups go flying (though they didn't break which is weird)... I would not find it too surprising to believe a Marine has been turned after 8 years of hardship and torture but on going back home surely he would begin to see things in more relative terms?
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How could you not "sense" how much time had gone by? His hair changed A LOT during their scenes, It was clearly being used to give us that "sense" of how much time had passed. Seemed very clear that it was at least 6+ months.



Another thing, the VP LIED about the bombing, saying that everything about the house being a school and so forth was a lie. THAT was probably what filled the meter, not just the bombing.
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Isa; Spelling correct, but pronunciation wrong (Not Aisa like in the episode, but Eesa) - Like Menzca said, meaning Jesus.
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I don't know if anyone said it in their reaction but we do have some estimate time brody spend with Isa, the first flashback where he woke up was 3 years ago. Then later in the episode Brody is abducted, at the end of the videomessage of Nazir the guy who walks in says that Nazir said he would remember the following statement of two years ago. That was a statement adressing the attack on the school.



So Brody spend about a year with Isa.
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I don't think Brody has turned against his country. Abu Nazir acknowledges that he couldn't get any information out of him in five years. After the bombing he promised something to Abu Nazir, but I don't think it to be an act of violence. maybe exposing the vice president. some uncomfortable connections between the CIA and Abu Nazir?
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As mentioned before, you completely left out the bit with the interview. It was the interview that tipped the scale towards Brody turning on his own country. The way VP lied about the whole attack and children casualties.
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Come on! If I were Brody I will become Osama bin laden.

First going for a fucked up war for wrong reasons , have a great relation with a kid then killed by my own country and after all the media is lying about it .....what more reasons you need!

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I would probably need some more reasons. For example, I would ask Abu Nazir why he would cynically surround himself with children, knowing that he must be a top target for the military, practically using these children as human shields.
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You say bump in the road? I totally disagree. This was one of the better episodes

and shows us how brilliant this show really is spanning all the episodes from the pilot til now.

Brody holding the boy in his arms was a scene and emotion not shown yet on the show.

There is still so much intrigue and it just keeps you hooked, however slow or fast the pace

of each episode...and all of this is building up to even greater television...scenes from next week are heading us in that direction...this is just awesome!
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I think the Brody becoming a 'terrorist' is not that black and white. My take is that Brody has made a promise to Abu Nazir to avenge Isa's death by assassinating the now V.P of the US. It's quite possible that Brody hasn't even considered 'what next' once his appetite for revenge is satiated.



This would also make for a rather interesting conflict between Brody and Nazir. Brody may just want to walk away once he's finished. Nazir may be hoping it's enough to fully turn Brody. The CIA may even figure things out and recruit Brody to spy on Nazir.



Although I am sure it is going to go in a completely different direction that will have me exclaiming OMG!



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I don't think there was anything wrong with this episode ... except for the fact that it is a filler. At least this time we were able to take a deep breath and relax a moment, because this episode was not as intense as the previous ones.



In this episode, I realized something, and this is not why Brody become a terrorist, but why he is not a terrorist anymore. He understood that everything Abu Nazir told him was a lie (the VP lied, Abu Nazir as well ... and what the heck, better to stay with the family). in fact I think that in the next episode Brody will start to work with Carrie and the CIA. though it may seem a little cliche that he now becomes a ''true american hero'', however, do not forget that Brody has many doubts ...
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Actually I don't think Brody just turned because of Isa death, but because of how it was handled...

The world terrorism first appeared after the french revolution where people tried to get political power through acts of violence, killing huge number of people after classifying them as Enemies of the revolution. It's the same kind of politics every government uses to lead it's population to war, If you're not with us then you're against us.

In this case after bombing a school, the VP lied calling it a fabrication and didn't apologized for the massacre of children, showing to Brody that they aren't men of honour worthy of the sacrifices he made.
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Maybe it was by accident or one of the writers is a genius. Naming the kid Isa, the arabian name for Jesus.(who is a saint in Islam). Great call
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I also found the Isa/Brody flashbacks to be a little insufficient but I did feel that the love they felt for each other seemed very genuine. The possibility that Isa was not technically Abu Nazir's offspring crossed my mind as well. But lets see what happens next. And hey Brody, you don't wear shoes when you're praying! Even Carrie knows THAT, she called on that FBI official to take of his in the mosque, just sayin'.
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I know it's difficult to comprehend how a marine with rigorous training could be turned against his own country. But when you think about everything Brody has been through it's not so impossible to believe. Systematically tortured and drugged for 5 years. Made to believe he killed his best friend. Mentally and physically broken and left to rot in a dark hole. Many would pray for death. After what would seem like an eternity, a man shows you kindness. Treats you like a human being. Trusts(?) you enough to spend time with his son(?). Expertly uses the innocence of a child to manufacture a bond. And then cements that bond with the tragic death of that very child. Black and white blends to grey. Lines begin to blur. Make no mistake, Abu Nazir is a ruthless terrorist and a master of coercion. Homeland may be guilty of not properly developing the emotional connection Brody had with Isa for the viewer. We didn't have enough time to feel the impact of Isa's death very strongly. In this, the writers have erred. But there are many pieces of this puzzle yet to be revealed, and Brody's motivations aren't implausible, even with the limited knowledge we have.
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"..convincing argument for why a mannay, a MARINEwould turn on his country is a tall order" Really??... But Lee Harvey Oswald - was a MARINE- and did just that!... oh how about a whole family of Navy crewmans - like the John Anthony Walker's Jr Family-,his son, Plus and an older brother, not to mention friends with 10 years in the navy each? Oh , and the kid thing - the Nazis did that with some people in the Camps- but with dogs and cats. Not to mention verified Stockholm Syndrom and that did not take years but a few days.
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Actually, what the show describes, the affection for the child as a catalyst of personality re-order, is a documented psychological effect. This scenario, to the disgrace of humanity, has actually being done- usually the transfer object is a dog or small animal. It seems unbelievable to the layman..but then many things are a mystery to one with limited knowledge and experience on certain subjects. The show will probably evolve that the child was NOT Nazir son and that the child was killed with a terrorist bomb in a different location and made to con-inside with the predator strike.
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I'm fully agreed with You.
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I find it quite refreshing to be this far into a season of a show and only have a few minor problems to nitpick over. Wish I had the same privilege for other shows! Looking at you Dexter and Walking Dead writers!
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They are going to have Brody kill Walker at the end of this season to titghen te trust of the government in him. I think they have Brody exactly where they want him.

Also its kind of weird from You to judge 5 years of torture and it effects ... the usa were not a bit better, see what they did to brody's forner guard, there won't be scars, but the effect is not much different. Imagine you'd have to endure this kind of treatment for years, stuff that would make the average reader here - no offense me included) - break within a day or 2.

With physical torture I'd tell everyone they want to hear - problem is that they ... more won't stop, not for years ... then offer you a way out if you beat your friend to death ... I think the brain is then in survival mode and anyone here would do it. They broke him and reprogrammed him. His country hasgiven up on him, his friends went on, his loving wife betrayed him ... he had nothing and suddenly there is this little boy hugging him like a father, etc ... did you even see the look on his face and what this moment brought up in brody?

Just watch the scenes where he talks about becoming a muslim. There is nothing weird to it, just that people sitting back in their couch are so out of touch with that scenario that this is simply unimaginable. This is not a problem with the show but with the audience.
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I like what someone below said about Nazir planting the seed for the bombing and using an actor kid stand in for Aisa, his son. As for the psychology of Brody turning? I don't know. I watched the timeline, and it seemed like about a year to me, too. A year is more than enough time to be completely devastated with the death of a child. But to completely turn with the people who had imprisoned you and beat you for five years prior as well as against your country? I don't know.



This show has been fantastic all along, and, while I agree that this episode wasn't quite up to some of the others, I'll say this for it: Storytelling and Pacing. You need a slower episode to gear up for the finale, and no one ever said that this was the final and definitive word on the reasons for Brody's decisions. While it is still only in its first season, this show has done well enough that I'll have faith in it to properly resolve its issues before I start saying that they didn't do something right.



Poor Dan. And you knew he was freaking out about the creepy guy he met in the woods who he finally realized was a military-trained killer. Ouch. I don't hunt, and while I know that this would never happen to me because I'll never actually meet a terrorist in the middle of the woods while hunting, this doesn't encourage me to start hunting.
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"Did you notice that Brody was shopping for Vitamin Water... NEAR THE COUS COUS!?!? Geez, guy! At least try to hide your terrorist leanings!"



Hey look, a bad joke linking couscous consumption to terrorism, or blatant racism? You decide.
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Saying that those who eat couscous are terrorist is indeed racist and dumb.

Saying that middle-east terrorist eat couscous doesn't seem that far-fetched.



I believe Tim's sentence is more about the second statement than the first.
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My decision: A GOOD joke linking cous cous consumption to terrorism.
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I think the concept that Brody "turned" against his country is flawed. I think his belief is that the political system is broken and unjustly manipulating events. If put in the right position Brody could help end the killing on both sides which one could easily believe is in the best interest of his country. At least that is likely the main line he is being fed. I don't think it is that black or white and I doubt he believes himself a traitor.
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I think Brody and Isa were together for little over a year. I gather this from the fact that the first flashback of him arriving in Abu Nazir's house said "3 years earlier" and the Diplomat stated the vice-president's footage was from 2 years ago.

I also think he could love the boy enough to at least question his knowledge of who were the bad guys after his death/murder - a boy about his own son age, a son he got no chance of seeing growing up or doing all those things he did with this kid;

All and all, there are a lot of pieces missing from this puzzle. For example, I find trully odd that a man would let his enemy educate his son without any supervision.
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Oh and another thing, I keep seeing the phrase "Kluster F*ck" today having never seen it before. It's brilliant. I gotta find a way to use it in my life.
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First of all, I'll be the second person to say that I think you mean September 2001 and secondly, I think Nazir blew up the school, sacrificing his own son to ensure Brody was turned.



And, Brody's been in captivity for a long time, has taken up a new religion so who knows what he'd be open to, however, I find it pretty unlikely that he would just convert to al qaeda after seeing a child, who is not his own, die. Whatever the bond between them.



We get no sense of how long he'd been in the house though. BUT how on earth he managed to grow his hair as long as it was in the opening episode in only a couple of years is a mystery to me. Wish my hair grew that quickly.



And for my two cents worth, it would be Aisa.
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I think Nazir probably leaked information that led to that bombing which likely was a US bombing and I wouldn't be surprised if Aisa isn't really his kid. He was probably brought in from the streets to bond with Brody likely for the express purpose of turning him.
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Oh, and the end had me laughing. I'm not sure if I actually like it or not, as I do agree that it doesn't exactly fit the show. But I thought it was hilarious. "You got a message on the voicemail... from the vice-president's office." Brody's eyes open. Cut to credits, with Leonard Cohen's Everybody Knows playing. Actually, I don't care if it doesn't fit the show -- I love it.
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That song makes me think of Pump up the Volume. I can't help it.
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I actually enjoyed this episode and appreciate its placement in the season. In the first 8 episodes, the show moved a LOT faster than I thought it would. I think that having an episode like this, at this time, prevents the story from getting too saturated. Too many plot twists can really damage a show, so I take this episode as a positive.



I do agree, however, about Brody not being given enough time with Isa for him to connect THAT much to his death. I can understand him being distraught over it, but turning against your country seems like a bit much. I like the theory and idea of it, though.
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Also, I don't buy that Brody would turn just cuz of Isa's death. I'm sorry, but it's not very believable imo.... and I hope that he will seek out Carrie now, and tell her some of the truth. If he continues to work for Abu-nazir, he's just plain dumb.
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I'll be annoying and correct you Tim. You meant Sept.11, 2001.
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I felt that this episode was a little disappointing. I felt bored with the storylines and the way they are heading! The first 7 episodes were amazing! This has taken a different turn and not too sure how excited I am. Especially with him running for office.. With this and Dexter what a disappointing Sunday!
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Haha yeah, at least walking dead delivered :D
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