(Warning: SPOILERS ahead for the episode broadcast on 12/09/12 and speculation about what comes next)

On the surface, it looks like The Mother***er with the Turban was Homeland‘s` descent into telenovela territory. There was that long scene  where Brody and the Missus honestly discuss their future and how it won’t be together, followed by Brody’s arrival at Carrie’s and his telling her the choice was between her and Walden, and he chose her, while the Angel of Death (in the form of Good Soldier Quinn) waits silently in the dark.

How romantic. Or maybe not.

Let’s go back a few episodes to Brody’s last visit with Abu Nazir.  We know he left out some details in his debrief, and  he was less than honest before that when he recounted how the tailor met with an unfortunate accident.  He didn’t  mention his breaking into the VP’s safe and giving the enemy a list of assets and agents either. So what’s the evidence that Carrie really “broke” him and brought him back to Team America?  Or that Nazir didn’t break him back?

What did Nazir say to Brody when they said goodbye?  That if all went according to plan they wouldn’t meet again.  What plan was that?

There’s a good reason Quinn and Estes don’t trust Brody. Aside from his being a terrorist and a traitor, he’s a pathological liar.  Yet, Carrie lurves him.  And to quote Roya, he can make her do things.

Is it possible Carrie’s kidnapping was part of Nazir’s long con and not an improvised plan to keep Brody on mission?  For starters, every call that Nazir made to Brody was made in front of Carrie.  When Walden was a goner trying to call for help,  Brody didn’t tell him, “Sorry, it was you or my squeeze.”  Brody was enjoying the moment, and he wanted Walden to know exactly what was happening.

When Nazir let Carrie go there was a possibility she’d get to a phone in time and tell the CIA about the plot to kill the VP, but there was a good chance she’d be too late to stop the murder.  Brody might get caught, but the deed would be done.  But what were the odds of her telling?   Nazir knows something (a lot) about psychology and manipulation.  He wrote the book on how to break a person.  He “rescued” Brody and won his loyalty.  He kidnapped Carrie and convinced her she was going to die.  He gave Brody the opportunity to rescue Carrie, and he took a calculated risk that Carrie would then protect Brody by not revealing the plot.  This compromises her and makes her vulnerable.

Nazir’s hanging around in the tunnels, and Carrie’s spidey sense kicking in yet again, may have seemed like another outlandish scenario (although there was that lovely homage to the The Third Man), but Nazir’s willingness to die, the slight smug smile he offered as he reached into his shirt, should not have been a surprise.   It’s not that Nazir wanted to die, but given his speech to Carrie last week, we know that for him the struggle was a long one, and he believed his side would win because they would never stop fighting and they were not afraid of death.

Nazir wanted revenge for the drone attack that killed his son.  He got it. He was done.

Anyone who thinks that Brody was no longer loyal to Nazir only had to watch him get the news of his captor’s death.  This wasn’t simply relief that it was all over, it was mourning.

So was Brody’s arrival at Carrie’s doorstep a sign that the twisty Homeland has succumbed to sentiment?  Was his declaration that he did it for her an honest declaration of love or a cruel manipulation?  Does Brody even know the difference?  We’ve seen Carrie play Brody and Brody play Carrie.  Do either of these two crazy kids really know what love is?

There’s more going on here than true romance.  If Carrie is being conned, she’ll put the pieces together eventually, or somebody else (Saul) will, and force her to look.  It’s unlikely Quinn will end things by fatally wounding Brody in the season finale.  Maybe he’ll botch it, and with the death of Walden, and the official story being a “terrorist” attempt on the life of the hero Congressman, the CIA will be in no position to stop his political rise. If anyone puts Brody down, my money is on its being Carrie, and that just may be the thing that drives her irrevocably over the edge.

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