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

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

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. 

Advertisement

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.

Katy Waldman Katy Waldman

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories to the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 9:00 AM Wailing Against the Pansies: Homophobia in Whiplash
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 8:43 AM Thunderstruck: Rock Out With Mother Nature’s Evil Side
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.