Homeland, Season 3, Episode 5: Daddy Issues Strike Again

Dana’s dating another killer? Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.

Sady Doyle

Rejoice! Jessica (Morena Baccarin) and Carrie (Claire Danes) actually interact in a way that doesn't involve fighting over Brody. (Kent Smith / Showtime)

So, I’ve got this theory.

If the next season starts with Dana going to her Spring Formal with a guy who turns out to be the Zodiac Killer, don't say that I didn't warn you.

Home­land, as we know, is a week­ly, hour-long ode to para­noia and wacky the­o­ries. When Saul com­mits Car­rie to the men­tal hos­pi­tal, we’re meant to won­der what his long game is; when Brody turns up in a half-built sky­scraper where lis­some women tend to his wounds, we’re left to pon­der which wacky bunch of inter­na­tion­al would-be world dom­i­na­tors has him this time. But my the­o­ry— the one I’ve been think­ing about for about five episodes now — has noth­ing to do with those recent plot points.

It’s this: The only rea­son Dana Brody is still around is because her seem­ing­ly clum­sy, melo­dra­mat­ic sto­ry lines will even­tu­al­ly be revealed as a ful­ly inten­tion­al com­men­tary on the dan­gers of bad fathering. 

Con­sid­er: Dana Brody’s dad, the one and only Nicholas Brody, spent most of Sea­son One plot­ting to assas­si­nate half of Wash­ing­ton. Last sea­son, he actu­al­ly did kill the Vice Pres­i­dent; this sea­son, he’s been framed as the mas­ter­mind behind the Lan­g­ley bomb­ing. Now, giv­en the pater­nal deceit and vio­lence that has con­sumed and irrev­o­ca­bly dam­aged Dana’s life — which, it should be not­ed, she spends no short­age of time com­plain­ing about in explic­it detail— you would think that young Dana would look for cer­tain qual­i­ties in a guy. Trust­wor­thi­ness, say. Reli­a­bil­i­ty. The gen­er­al absence of a ten­den­cy to mur­der his fel­low man in cold blood.

And yet, it is not so. Pret­ty much every sin­gle time Dana Brody goes on a date with some­body, he turns out to be a soul­less, duplic­i­tous killer. Last sea­son, she dat­ed the Vice Pres­i­den­t’s son; on one of their dates, he ran down a woman in his car and pres­sured Dana into a cov­er-up. This sea­son, she falls in love and takes a road trip with a guy who secret­ly shot his broth­er. Dana Brody, whose father kills peo­ple and lies about it, seem­ing­ly can­not stop dat­ing guys who kill peo­ple and lie about it. It’s not that I blame her — I’m the first to admit that we often find our­selves repeat­ing our pri­mal trau­mas, which is one of the worst parts of being trau­ma­tized in the first place — but at this point, I can’t see it as any­thing oth­er than a ful­ly inten­tion­al piece of com­men­tary on what a very poor role mod­el Nicholas Brody was for his daughter. 

Well. I could be wrong. But if the next sea­son starts with Dana going to her Spring For­mal with a guy who turns out to be the Zodi­ac Killer, don’t say that I did­n’t warn you.

The strangest part of all this is, at some point dur­ing The Yoga Play,” last night’s episode, the dra­ma actu­al­ly start­ed work­ing. Maybe it was just the shock­ing fact that Jes­si­ca went to Car­rie for help track­ing Dana down — this show fea­tures two actress­es I love, More­na Bac­carin and Claire Danes, and their only inter­ac­tion thus far has con­sist­ed of fight­ing over Brody — or the fact that Car­rie, in a heart­warm­ing dis­play of ovaries-before-brovaries sol­i­dar­i­ty, actu­al­ly oblig­ed. Maybe I just have a strong invest­ment in sto­ries about the dan­gers of being a teenage girl. But some­where around the time Dana heard about the sui­cide pact over a gas sta­tion’s radio and start­ed ques­tion­ing Leo about it, and Leo did­n’t quite man­age to get his sto­ry straight while maneu­ver­ing her back into his car, I real­ized that I was entire­ly invest­ed in their plot line. For all my dis­il­lu­sion­ment with this show, and for all that I doubt­ed that I could still con­nect to it emo­tion­al­ly, the moment Leo got Dana back into that car, my notes devolved into one long, gen­uine stream of DANA SERI­OUS­LY WHY” and STRESS­FUL” and DANA.”

It’s entire­ly pos­si­ble, how­ev­er, that one of the rea­sons this plot line stood out was that the rest of the episode —the actu­al, hon­est-to-good­ness spy work — was pret­ty mud­dled and unremarkable.

We do, thank heav­ens, get to learn more about the long con staged by Saul and Car­rie: It start­ed direct­ly after the Lan­g­ley bomb­ing. This means that Car­rie was ful­ly aware of what Saul was doing when he assas­si­nat­ed her char­ac­ter and had her com­mit­ted, but it does­n’t entire­ly make sense of the many scenes in which Car­rie — com­plete­ly alone, and with no one to fool — flipped out over those events. You could argue that she hat­ed the expe­ri­ence, even though she was a will­ing par­tic­i­pant. But you could also argue, more con­vinc­ing­ly, that it was all mis­ery porn thrown in to mis­lead the audi­ence. I don’t mind melo­dra­mat­ic twists, but a good twist reveals a hid­den struc­ture in an exist­ing nar­ra­tive — the hey, Haley Joel Osment is the only per­son who talks to Bruce Willis!” moment— and a bad one under­mines the integri­ty of the nar­ra­tive itself. This one falls in the lat­ter category. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly enough, the mis­ery porn just keeps com­ing. Car­rie’s attempts to help Jes­si­ca and Dana include con­tact­ing some­one at the FBI. She gets made by Javadi’s agents and reamed out by Saul, in a scene that seems designed to make us wor­ry once again that their friend­ship is over. (It’s not quite as pow­er­ful this time, giv­en that they’ve only been act­ing like friends for thir­ty min­utes of screen time. They may have been work­ing togeth­er all along, but as a view­er, it’s just looked like four episodes of Saul being mean to Car­rie, one scene in which Saul and Car­rie hugged, and then yet anoth­er scene in which Saul was mean to Carrie.)

She then gets assault­ed in her own home, forcibly stripped while whim­per­ing Please, no,” and kid­napped, all in the name of get­ting her face-to-face with Java­di. She cries, she’s scared; it’s awful. Quinn reports that she’s on her own.” Saul growls that she’s always been on her own.” Does Saul hate Car­rie for real this time? Will he return his half of their BFF neck­lace? Is this just a red her­ring meant to make his inevitable res­cue efforts sur­pris­ing? Can any Home­land view­er hon­est­ly pre­tend that he or she does not know the answer to every sin­gle one of these questions?

No. We can­not. Saul and Car­rie are going to be all right, because the show depends on it. But at least Dana Brody gets home alive after escap­ing from Leo’s car and being spot­ted by the police. And Leo, for what it’s worth, does some tru­ly impres­sive cry­ing when he tells Dana that he only lied about killing his broth­er — play­ing the game with the gun,” is how he puts it — because he was ashamed. It’s such impres­sive cry­ing, in fact, that I near­ly believed him. But, speak­ing of inevitable: Dana Brody tends to wind up in prox­im­i­ty to killers. And this par­tic­u­lar killer just got dumped by tabloid celebri­ty Dana Brody, while in full pos­ses­sion of her nude pics. As inevitable as his use of those assets to hurt Dana seems, and as lit­tle as I look for­ward to it, the pat­tern of Dana’s bad deci­sions just keeps repeating. 

Sady Doyle is an In These Times con­tribut­ing writer. She is the author of Train­wreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… and Why (Melville House, 2016) and was the founder of the blog Tiger Beat­down. You can fol­low her on Twit­ter at @sadydoyle.
Limited Time:

SUBSCRIBE TO IN THESE TIMES MAGAZINE FOR JUST $1 A MONTH