Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pilot - Homeland Episode Summary 1.1

Carrie learns that an American prisoner of war has been turned
Synopsis: C.I.A. Agent Carrie Mathison is in a prison in Baghdad desperately trying to extract information from a terrorist’s bomb maker.  She gets the unsettling information right before prison guards haul her away from the prisoner’s cell.  According to the terrorist, a prisoner of war has been turned.  Months later, she sits in a room in Washington D.C. where the C.I.A. Deputy Director shares with his team news of the inadvertent rescue of a prisoner of war, and identified the American hero as Sergeant Nicholas Brody.

Episode Summary: Carrie Mathison is in Baghdad trying to get a hold of C.I.A. Deputy Director David Estes, her superior in Washington D.C.  Her contact, Ibrahim Hasan, Abu Nazir’s bomb maker responsible for blowing up a marketplace in Ramadi killing over a hundred civilians has been sentenced to death after a year of imprisonment.  Carrie believes that Hasan has information about an imminent attack on U.S. soil, and is confident that the man will cooperate if the U.S. government finds a way to commute his sentence.  Carrie scrambles to get to the prison where Hasan is being held, and asks David to petition JSOC to appeal to the Iraqi army, but David offers no help. Continue reading...

Carrie arrives at the prison and hands cash to an Iraqi helping her bribe a prison guard.  The guard leads her to Hasan’s cell where Carrie wastes no time delivering the bad news.  The Agency refused to intervene.  The Iraqi army is going to carry out the death sentence.  Learning of his fate, and the U.S. government’s refusal to save his life, Hasan has decided to bring the information with him to the grave.  Carrie appeals to him promising to get his family to safety, but the man doubts the woman who failed to find a way to commute his sentence.  Carrie turns the tables with her own doubts on the prisoner who claims to have information about a terrorist attack by Abu Nazir.  The man has made this claim several months ago, but has not been able to provide proof.  With nothing to lose, and hanging on the hope that Carrie fulfills her promise to protect his family from harm, Hasan whispers to Carrie the secret he holds just before the Iraqi prison guards haul her away from his prison cell.

Ten months later, Carrie Mathison is back in Washington D.C.  She arrives home for a quick change of clothes before rushing to the George Bush Center for Intelligence.  She arrives late for a briefing where David is about to show the attack carried out by the Delta team on the enemy operating base in the Korengal Valley where numerous insurgents were killed.  More importantly, the siege, conveniently caught on camera, showed the inadvertent rescue of Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody.  The marine sergeant was a prisoner of war since 2003, and was presumed dead.  All are in shock including Carrie Mathison.  Knowing that Sergeant Brody was a scout sniper a job that requires a partner, she asks about the fate of Corporal Thomas Walker, his partner who also went missing that fateful day.  Corporal Walker, according to Sergeant Brody, died during captivity.  At the urging of their superior, everyone in the room except Carrie applaud in recognition of their good work for bringing home an American hero.   Carrie as though in a world of her own walks out of the room.

Carrie relays the exact words Hasan whispered into her ear to Saul Berenson.  Hasan who spoke to her in English stated “An American prisoner of war has been turned.”  Carrie kept this information from him unaware until a few minutes ago that there are prisoners of wars still alive in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Carrie suspects that the successful siege of Abu Nazir’s safe house was part of a terrorist plan.  She speculates that Abu Nazir wanted the Americans to recover the prisoner of war who now works for him without the Americans suspecting that they have brought home a traitor.  Saul finds it difficult to believe the elaborate plan Carrie claims Abu Nazir orchestrated, and disapproves of Carrie’s proposal to get a surveillance package on Sergeant Brody.  Saul suggests that Carrie must first present doubts on the authenticity of the safe house leak that led to the rescue of Sergeant Brody.  Carrie having been pulled out from the field argues the limitations of her current situation, but acquiesced that Saul’s recommendation is the only way.

Jessica Brody is in bed with Mike Faber when she receives a call from her long lost husband.  Filled with trepidation, she leaves her lover, and rushes home to deliver the incredible news to her children.  The excitement of delivering the news is lost on her when she catches her daughter doing drugs.  News of their father’s return would have been left unreported if her son had not reminded her of the reason for her unexpected arrival.  The hour of Sergeant Brody’s return has arrived, and as his family prepares to welcome him home, the sergeant sits in the plane drowning in anticipation of meeting his family whom he has not seen in eight years.  Moreover, he is to appear before the vice president of the United States, the media and the hundreds of people who have come to welcome him home.  The weight of what he has to face dawns on him, and he finds himself retching at the thought of it.

While the Brody’s make their way to Andrews Air Force Base, Carrie’s crew is busy putting surveillance cameras around the Brody house.  Carrie arrives at the house surprised to find only two men to do the job, and one of them she doesn’t even recognize.  Having only paid a grand a day, Carrie has to make do with the bare bones surveillance package.

Having arranged a grand ceremony to welcome an American hero, David Estes is livid at hearing the news that his poster boy for the war is in the loo heaving, and might not arrive in time for the great spectacle.  David is eyeing the directorship, and having the vice president wait not to mention the hundreds of people who have come to receive him is not helping.  Fortunately, the vice president and the American people are already content with the idea of an American hero returning home.  The directorship is no longer too far from his grasp.

Sergeant Brody arrives at the waiting room where her anxious family awaits.  Soon after recovering from the shock of seeing him truly alive and well, Jessica hugs her husband tightly, and both are in tears.  Their children tentatively walk toward their parents unsure of what to do.  Dana, the eldest, breaks the ice, and hugs her father, while Chris only offers a handshake.  The boy who must have only been a toddler when his father went missing barely knows the man in front of him.  Upon the urging of his sister, Chris hugs his father who warmly returns his display of affection.  Soon after, the Vice President arrives, and all are escorted to the stage where Sergeant Brody’s fellow marines and the millions of Americans watching the homecoming ceremony await to hear him speak.  Much to the surprise of everyone, Sergeant Brody truly embodies the poster boy persona with his heartfelt speech.

Carrie and his crew are in her house wrapping up the set up of the live feed from the Brodys’ house.  Max, the new man in her crew apprehensive about the job he took part of knowing that they have broken several laws confronts Virgil, the man who hired him hoping to find out more about their client.  His uneasiness stems from the pills he discovered Carrie has been hiding in her aspirin bottle, and none of it is placated when Virgil admits to not knowing what it is.

The homecoming ceremony is finally over, and the Brodys are on their way home when an old friend personally welcomes back Sergeant Brody.  The close friend is none other than Jessica’s lover, Mike Faber, a fellow marine now working for military intelligence.  Mike informs Brody that he is expected for a follow-up debriefing in Langley the very next day.  Brody unaware of the affair did not appear to suspect anything until he learns that Mike’s brother had painted their house.  Reporters and neighbors flock their driveway forming Brody’s welcoming committee.  One of the photographers asks to take a photo of the family by the yellow ribbon tied around a tree, and Brody with the consent of his wife agrees to the request.

Carrie unable to get intel from her contacts asks Saul to get her into Sergeant Brody’s briefing at Langley.  She believes that she’ll be able to draw out information from Brody.  With Carrie promising not to raise eyebrows at the debriefing, Saul agrees to help her get face time with Sergeant Brody.  Soon after her call with Saul, Carrie wastes no time to spy on Brody thanks to the live feed from his house.  Except for a call from somebody who hung up the phone, nothing suspicious happens at the Brody house.

That night, Jessica has prepared her own welcome home present for her husband.  She puts on her negligee, dims the lights, and opens a bottle of wine.  Noticing that the tag is still on her husband’s pajama, Jessica reaches to remove it, which startles Brody.  No one would blame a man imprisoned in a hole for eight years for being jumpy, and she thinks nothing of it.  The mood however changes when Jessica removes the shirt of her husband, and finds the numerous scars on his body.  The sight of the scars brings to mind the torture her husband endured while in captivity.  Jessica is brought to tears despite her husband’s reassurance that everything is fine now.  However, something is clearly wrong.  As they continue their love making, Brody soon becomes rough, and the intercourse clearly has quickly become unpleasant for Jessica who once again is brought to tears.

Virgil arrives at Carrie’s house for his shift, and finds her still asleep.  Carrie once again finds herself running late for work, but today is far different from other days for she is to appear in Sergeant Brody’s debrief.  She does manage to fill in Virgil of the two hung ups from a blocked phone number, but without a subpoena there is nothing else they can do about it.  Carrie arrives just in time for the debrief where David informs Sergeant Brody that the follow-up’s purpose is to get clarifications on a few things that will help them with their on-going fight against Al-Qaeda.  The analysts’ questions are in-line with the purpose David presented to him at the start of the debriefing, but this changed when it was Carrie’s time to speak.  Carrie begins to sound doubtful when Sergeant Brody states that he did not divulge any U.S. ground operations.  Carrie oversteps the line when she begins to suspect the reason for Sergeant Brody being kept alive for almost eight years if he as he claimed had immediately stopped being a source of information.  This is a conundrum to her especially since Corporal Walker was killed in captivity.  Why was Sergeant Brody spared? Sergeant Brody’s only response is that he often wondered about that himself.  With Carrie’s questioning, the debriefing quickly turns into an interrogation.  She is surprised to hear that Sergeant Brody’s interrogator was an Al-Qaeda commander named Zayadi, and shows him photos of a man she would like Brody to identify as his interrogator.  Brody immediately informs them that the man in the pictures was not his interrogator, and that he is aware that the man in the photos is none other than Abu Nazir.  Carrie is once again surprised to hear that Abu Nazir was not present in any of the interrogations carried on Sergeant Brody that she asks him to look at the photos again.  One of the pictures brings back a memory of Abu Nazir giving him something to drink after being stripped off his clothes and left hanging on a rope, but he keeps this memory to himself.  Moreover, he insists that he never met Abu Nazir, and neither did Corporal Walker.  Carrie fails to fathom the absence of Abu Nazir during the interrogation of P.O.W’s, prisoners who hold the key in the attacks against the coalition forces he leads.

Much to his chagrin, Saul is disappointed to learn that Carrie’s behavior at the debriefing has raised an eyebrow, and it was David’s of all people.  Carrie failed on her promise not to cause a stir, and Saul is now being questioned about his insistence of having her attend the debriefing.  Admitting that Carrie’s presence at the debriefing was the young woman’s idea Saul turns the question to David.  He wonders why the man has kept her from the debriefing when Carrie is the only one in the section who has ever been to Iraq, and the answer came to bite him.  David finds Carrie’s temperament concerning, and he was right not to invite her to the meeting for she quickly turned the routine follow-up into a cross-examination.  Moreover, she kept bringing up Abu Nazir that caused David to wonder if something is being kept from him.  David is concerned that Carrie is once again on the verge of causing an international crisis, one she caused not too long ago after bribing her way into an Iraqi prison, which is also the reason why she was pulled out from the field.  Saul being the one who pleaded in Carrie’s behalf for her to get a second chance has his career on the line if the young woman makes another glaring mistake.  David recognizes that the man has a soft spot for her for he once had one for her too, and it cost him his family.

Her face time with Sergeant Brody only gave fodder to her suspicion, and Virgil informing him of Brody lying to his wife about his whereabouts seems to be the break they desperately need.  Brody called to tell Jessica that he might be late for their party, since he still is in Langley.  Max has been tailing Brody’s town car that is now headed for Bluemont Park.  Carrie, Max, and Virgil watch from a van as Brody sits at a bench clearly waiting for somebody.  Soon an African American woman approaches him pleasantly surprised that Brody showed up.  It was Mike who arranged their meeting.  Carrie and her crew listen intently only to learn that the woman is only Tom Walker’s widow, Helen Walker.  Their clandestine tryst was solely because Helen believes that Jessica is angry with her for remarrying.  Jessica is upset with her for giving up hope that her husband will some day return.  Clearly, Helen is not Brody’s contact, but Claire instructs her crew to listen anyway.  Helen is in search of closure, which Brody, the person Tom was with during the last days of his life, could provide.  Brody informs her that Tom was beaten to death, but lies to not having been there during the heinous act.  The surveillance is a bust, and so Carrie heads home in time for the Brody’s barbecue party.  Virgil, however, takes the opportunity to confront her about the pills Max found in her medicine cabinet.  Virgil identified it as Clozapine, an antipsychotic, which makes him weary that he has been working not to mention breaking several laws for a woman with a mental disorder.  Carrie’s admission of having some form of mental illness since she was twenty-two provided no comfort, and her nonchalant recognition that she is a crazy person who may have just made up the story of a prisoner of war being turned was of no help either.  Nobody in the agency, not even Saul, knows about Carrie’s illness.  Of her peers, it is only Virgil who knows.

It is not a good day for Carrie.   She finds Saul in her living room upset at having found the illegal surveillance she had set up in Sergeant Brody’s house.  Unable to provide proof to support her suspicion, Saul advises that she find herself a lawyer.  Carrie begs for Saul’s forgiveness, and suggests payment of a sexual nature.  This only infuriates Saul even more.  Carrie is left alone in her house to mull over her errors.  Sensing that she is starting to go out of her mind, she decides to get out of the house.  Meanwhile, Brody is entertaining his friends at the barbecue when he sees his wife having a serious conversation with Mike.  Brody’s reappearance put an abrupt end to their relationship, one they planned to disclose to family and friends three days after Brody came back to life.  Now, all that is moot, but Mike is not ready to let go.

Carrie puts on her fake engagement ring, and has drinks at a bar that plays jazz music.  Soon after, a guy starts hitting on her despite noticing the ring on her finger.  She explains that the ring is simply a prop to scare off guys looking for a relationship.  This surprises the guy who tells her that she cannot be all that bad.  Carrie offers proof of her appalling nature.  That day, she had betrayed her only true friend after having put his long and hard fought career at risk.  As if rubbing salt on a wound, the cause of her betrayal is on the television being paraded as an American hero.  Having had enough, Carrie suggests to the guy that the two of them leave the bar, a suggestion the guy finds difficult to resist.  Watching the jazz quartet play their instruments, admiring how their fingers move, Carrie is struck with an idea.  She rushes to Saul’s house, and shows him clips from the news coverage of Sergeant Brody’s welcome ceremony including the videos taken in front of his house as he poses with his family for pictures.  Carrie shows Saul that Brody’s right hand appears to be sending a code as its fingers move in a pattern.  She believes that Sergeant Brody is sending a message to somebody with the sequences he makes with his fingers.  Though hardly definitive, Saul agrees to explore this further, and recommends having the crypto guys decipher the code.

That morning, Jessica wakes up to find that Brody is no longer in bed.  Brody went out for a run probably to clear his mind of his lies.  Not only was he in the same room where Tom was beaten to death, he was the one who did the deed.  Moreover, he was following direct orders from Abu Nazir who was also the one who gave him comfort as he wept for having taken his friend’s life with his own hands.

Watch the Pilot episode of Homeland
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