2012: The Year in TV Moments

Nick Brody, Finally Free
What you're watching.
Dec. 28 2012 7:30 AM

2012: The Year in TV Moments


Homeland: Nick and Jess Brody, finally free.

Showtime, Dec. 9, 10:45 p.m.

Season 2 of Homeland was packed with tense, startling moments, many of them in motor vehicles that crashed, surveilled, went rogue, or screeched irresponsibly off. The show itself is not unlike a freeway. Subplots speed past each other until they collide; you are constantly fastening your seatbelt (terrorist Abu Nazir has landed in the U.S.!) or flipping off a reckless driver (Carrie, for the 5-millionth time, wait for backup!). So it’s probably fitting that one of the finest scenes in the series takes place in an SUV. What is maybe more surprising is that the SUV is parked—with nary a gun, bomb, or urgently vibrating phone in sight.

But that could also be why the penultimate episode’s exchange between Jess and Nick Brody (Morena Baccarin and Damian Lewis), in a darkened car, is such a beauty. Suddenly the show hits the brakes, creating a breathing space for its characters’ emotions. A SWAT team has just shot Abu Nazir after a nerve-racking chase through a mesh of underground tunnels; now we’re presented with resolution in a quieter register. And it’s this return to the human actors behind all the gunsmoke that reminds us why we watch this maddening, preposterous show in the first place. 

Because as much as Homeland is a counterpoint of terrorist and counterterrorist plots, it is also about a marriage coming apart. Jess and Nick earn our sympathy—they both want to make things work. But their stagnating relationship proves just as frustrating as the vice president’s politics or the CIA’s backbiting—as frustrating, actually, as the warped logic behind the Iraq war, since their inability to connect highlights the painful situation of returning U.S. soldiers.

Anyway, in this scene, the darkened car scene, teenage sweethearts Nick and Jess Brody try one last time to understand each other. They fail, of course: Jess can’t bring herself to hear what happened to Brody in the aftermath of Iraq—and they realize their relationship is over. Watching the last bits of the marriage fall away is a relief, though sad. It means Nick can move forward with Carrie and Jess can reunite with Mike. Nick absolves Jess of not being “big enough” to support him in the wake of his tour and capture. (“There was nothing anyone could have done,” he says.) Jess accepts that Carrie knows her husband in a way she can’t and forgives him for loving her. The point, overall, is generosity: With malice toward none and charity for all, the writers supply the loveliest ending to a spent relationship we could have hoped for.

The break-up happens right after the Brodys are released from their crazy-making CIA safe house. In this quiet scene, the show allows us to see Nick and Jess exploring what it really means to be free.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Altered State

The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender

What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?

Surprise! The Women Hired to Fix the NFL Think the NFL Is Just Great.

You Shouldn’t Spank Anyone but Your Consensual Sex Partner

Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM The Most Awkward Scenario in Which a Man Can Hold a Door for a Woman
  News & Politics
Altered State
Sept. 17 2014 11:51 PM The Plight of the Pre-Legalization Marijuana Offender What should happen to weed users and dealers busted before the stuff was legal?
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 8:25 PM A New Song and Music Video From Angel Olsen, Indie’s Next Big Thing
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 9:00 PM Amazon Is Now a Gadget Company
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 17 2014 11:48 PM Spanking Is Great for Sex Which is why it’s grotesque for parenting.
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?