Week 3: Season One Episodes 9-12: Loyalty

After I concluded viewing Season One of Homeland, I came away feeling conflicted toward the show and its characters.  The show is captivating although at times the story lines are far fetched, but overall after having completed Season One, I am eager to start Season Two. I am looking to find out how will Carrie will fare after receiving ECS treatment in an effort to lessen the effects of her bi-polar disorder. What will she do about Brody’s betrayal? How will she be able to continue to wage her war to stop terror attacks to America?  Episode 12, in particular, had so many twists in it that I marvel at how the writers and creators of Homeland came up with this material.  Image result for homeland season 1 pictures

I was also a little confused at some parts of the show. When did Carrie actually fall in love with Brody? I believed Carrie’s affair with Brody was not a romantic one but one that had an agenda to it (Carrie sleeping with Brody in an effort to extract information from him as she believes he is a terrorist working for Abu Nazir. Sure she seemed upset when he told her to f_ off after he learned of the surveillance she kept on him but I assumed the reason she was upset was because she had to tell him the truth. Speaking of Brody, how and when did his family know of the affair? Did I miss something?

Perhaps most importantly I feel conflicted as to who is the villain. abu-issa-and-nick-homelandWhen I started Homeland, I was prepared to think of Brody as the hero even though I knew his character would not be as cut and dry as that. However my feelings toward the character of Brody have completely changed. As we have learned, Brody nearly blew himself and high ranking cabinet members to smithereens, which would firmly plant him in the “villain” category. Not to mention the betrayal to Carrie and to his family. Abu Nazir, who the show portrays as a prime terror suspect and hence the “villain”, recently got more “humanized” by letting the views get to know his son Issa through Brody’s flashbacks prior to Issa getting killed. By illustrating the sweet and kind boy Issa was garnered the audience’s sympathy toward Abu Nazir, or at least made him not seem so sinister.

Besides feeling conflicted, I felt the overarching message in this final third of this season is one of loyalty. This notion of loyalty refers to both personal and professional loyalty. Anyone watching Homeland up to this point knows how loyal Carrie is to her work. Although Carrie’s character is central to this show, loyalty of the other characters is essential to maintaining the plot twists and turns that are clearly evident in the show’s first season.

Brody, for example, has demonstrated his loyalty to Abu Nazir by killing Tom Walker and was willing to kill top government officials. The show introduced Brody as a U.S. Marine who was captured and held prisoner for eight years. We are led to believe the catalyst in “turning” Brody was the death of Issa.  We learned how Vice President Walden denounced the deaths of the 81 children, including Issa,  who were killed in a drone strike that David Estes, Walden, and other high ranking government officials were involved in. While a failing suicide vest initially prevented Brody from following through with this act of terror, it was his loyalty to his daughter Dana that ultimately stopped him from using the vest after he fixed it (or more likely It was ill-fated timing?).  Toward the end of Season One, viewers were able to piece together that it was Brody’s shared loyalty to Abu Nazir, Issa, and Islam that drove him to be willing to be a suicide terrorist and betray the loyalty he did have for his country.

Professional loyalty is often viewed as desirable trait especially in western societies. While this undoubtedly can be a positive attribute, it can also have negative implications. David Estes is a good example. He is ambitious and is wanting to ascend into an even higher position of power than what he currently is, as head of the CIA. However his professional loyalty has overshadowed anything else in his life. We have learned early on in Season One that he is divorced and barely sees his kids. Throughout Season One David has not been supportive of Carrie despite her being a stellar CIA agent (or so we have been led to believe thus far in the series). While this may have stemmed from an ill-fated love affair between the two, but can it be that David wants to keep Carrie from rising like the star she is in a male dominated field? When Saul uncovered information on the drone strike David was a part of, David sternly told him to pursue other important leads so that the potential bad press on this drone strike would not reflect poorly on the CIA, and ultimately him.

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Other measures of loyalty of the characters of Homeland are plentiful in just this first season of the show. Undoubtedly the subject of loyalty will be repeated in the subsequent episodes. An article by Lindsay Steenberg and Yvonne Tasker does a great job at analyzing this, even though this article does provide spoiler alerts. Nonetheless Season One ended with such drama and fanfare, Season Two is bound to pack even more of a punch.

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10 thoughts on “Week 3: Season One Episodes 9-12: Loyalty

  1. Christine,
    I agree with your analysis about the hero, because even Brody is the terrorist, I hate Walden and he is clearly a scumbug. I also have a lack of respect for David, who I believe is operating with his own agenda in mind. I think there is clear indication that Saul doesn’t trust him and I’m noticing he is coming a barrier between David and Carrie. I’m starting to wonder if Saul wants Carrie in the field to “expose” the truth about David, but at same time is concerned that this exploration could “break” her. It will be interesting to see if Saul allows her to go rouge in season 2.

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  2. I think your ideas on “loyalty” are important to discuss. I do, though, wonder how “loyal” Carrie is to her work. By that, I mean how loyal is she to the CIA vs. how loyal is she to her own thoughts/feelings/emotions regarding safety, terrorism, and what is right. She almost never follows CIA protocol, which really challenges her loyalty to the CIA. And she willingly puts herself in danger, sleeping with, and then falling in love with, a suspected/then known terror suspect – something someone loyal to the CIA would report. So, the question is, in line with some of the articles we’ve read for the class, how much is Carrie’s loyalty dictated by her emotional state? How loyal will she be to Brody in the future? How loyal will she be to Saul? These are all major issues throughout the series, so I hope you come back to this idea of loyalty again in future posts.

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  3. You mention in your post “Toward the end of Season One, viewers were able to piece together that it was Brody’s shared loyalty to Abu Nazir, Issa, and Islam that drove him to be willing to be a suicide terrorist and betray the loyalty he did have for his country.” Although I do not necessarily disagree, I am curious about your thoughts as a viewer on how we are supposed to reconcile this thought process with Brody’s claimed loyalty in his tape. After all, he professes that his actions in his terrorist act are a result of his “love of country” and to honor his commitment as a marine to protect against enemies both foreign and domestic (implying that VP Walden and other members of the security team are domestic enemies that have never had to answer for the crime of killing 82 innocent children).

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  4. The subject of loyalty in this show is a very important one. Yet even though it seems everyone is loyal to something, everyone seems mostly loyal to number one which is themselves. Even though Brody is seemingly dedicated to Nazir, as well as trying to be dedicated to his family as well, only seems to be loyal to himself. He lies to everyone including Nazir to make sure they continue to see him in a good light. Even though Carrie seems loyal to her job, now it seems that she is loyal to herself that she just wants to prove to everyone else including herself that she was right all along.

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  5. Watching this show for the second time, I was struck by something concerning the Brody/Issa relationship. Brody is kinder and more sensitive to Issa than his rather stern father is. This comes out when the soccer ball knocks the serving table over and Brody takes the rap. For all Abu Nassir’s grief for his son, he wasn’t the greatest dad: put the education of the kid in the hands of a POW, wow, kind of hard to believe. Maybe that’s an extra motivation for Abu Nassir wanting Brody to blow himself up–he’s a reminder of Abu’s failures as a father.
    But as your theme is loyalty, the central question with Brody is how does Brody’s loyalty to his own flesh and blood get trumped by his affection for Issa and his anger at Issa’s death? You are quite right to note that he actually did pull the switch before Dana called. I think Brody is more screwed up than shows on the surface. Yet another reason to be eager to see what happens in Season Two.
    Oh, one more thing. I am trying to think of an example, but I think there is precedent for stories about enemies that fall in love and have to balance their love for partner versus their love for job/country/duty. If you come up with one, let me know.

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  6. Brody’s perceived loyalty to country is interesting as well. His appeal to voters will probably be predicated on his loyalty to his fellow soldiers and his country for not giving in to the torture. We know that he apparently did, but those in the narrative are still very unaware that he is a potential snake in the grass.

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  7. I also wondered what I missed once Jess brought up the affair! Loyalty is an interesting theme because so far in my opinion I see almost no loyalty. Perhaps the only true loyalties I can think of are that of Tom Walker to Nazir, Saul to Carrie (although this is also broken when he calls for security), and Chris to Walden to Walden. I like this, though. The complexity of Carrie’s conflicting loyalties to Brody and the Truth is in contrast of David’s loyalty to the CIA as an organization and justice (I see that hard shell starting to crack). This is a theme I will continue to pay attention to.

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  8. Loyalty was a theme that I also reflected on while watching the episodes this week. In Brody’s video he explained that he had chosen his course of action partly out of loyalty to the US and because he felt that the people he was targeting were a danger to the country. This seemed very poignant me, the fact that dissent against leaders can be the most patriotic thing to do. While an extreme and violent illustration of the point, it is relevant today to understand that supporting the people highest in our government is not the same as being a good citizen. Sometimes to be a good citizen you have to rebel.

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  9. I think (as others have pointed out,) that the question of loyalty is a particularly interesting one when applied to the characters of Brody and Carrie. Brody seems to be loyal to Abu Nazir’s cause– but at the same time, claims loyalty to his country and cites his responsibility to protect the U.S against enemies “foreign and domestic,” as a main reason for his actions. It seems as if even he is unsure where his true loyalties lie. His love for his country and his family seem to conflict with his love for Issa, his newly adopted religion, and (as he states in his own words,) his “love” for Abu Nazir. I am not quite sure where the character stands (and it seems that he doesn’t really know himself,) and this makes the plot interesting, if not frustrating.
    I also like Brian’s point about Carrie’s loyalty to her job; it seems as though she is loyal to her own idea of protection (not necessarily what the CIA would want.)

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