'Homeland' recap: Neither free nor clear
In a physical clearing, in the woods behind a campaign donor's house, Carrie and Brody meet. It's business, technically; sensing that Brody's about to crack from the strain of serving as a double agent, Carrie lets him vent about his powerlessness and fear.
Then they kiss. It's yearning for each other that pushes them together, long unvented; it's the feeling that nowhere else, no one else, is safe, that each is only truly seen by the other. But it "clears" nothing up. Brody pulls back, afraid Carrie's only "handling" him. Carrie bites her lip, afraid she can't handle him, or her feelings for him.
Who do you trust, if you're not sure you can trust yourself? Brody can't trust, or be trusted, in "The Clearing"; playing both sides, he's always lying to someone, whether it's to Roya about why he needs more information about Nazir's plan, or to Jessica, who confronts him about what Mike told her. Brody tells Jessica a bowdlerized version of the truth about Tom Walker's death, and the unvarnished truth about himself, whether she hears it or not: "Tom lost his way; he just went through too many things, he couldn't get right again."
Then he accuses Carrie of telling Mike about Tom Walker to trip him up. Carrie denies this, and agrees to "take care of" Mike, which she does by talking to him about his true feelings for Jessica, which handily enough is also the truth about her feelings for Jessica's husband. Mike plays the relationship down: "That was a long time ago." "Not really," Carrie says, "not when you've chosen someone." Mike looks gutted that she's guessed his heart as Carrie goes on that he needs to stand down.
Elsewhere, Quinn is alive, and trusts his own judgment to check out of the hospital early. As far as we can see, he's his normal self, since he drops trou in front of Carrie and then snarks, "Like you've never seen a [twig] before." (Galvez has also survived, but "it doesn't look good.") He wants to go back to the operations center and wait for word from Saul, who's questioning Aileen -- the terrorista he transported back from the Mexican border -- about who the new guy/ringleader of the Gettysburg firefight is. She's in solitary, and though Saul keeps repeating that it's urgent (Roya mentioned that things are about to speed up big-time), Aileen won't talk until she's moved to a cell with a window. In the interrogation room, she talks to Saul while squinting out at the grass -- prison is ruining her eyesight.
Saul wants to believe Aileen. He arranges with the Attorney General to get her her window. He smuggles in a contraband picnic -- cheese, a baguette, even some screw-top wine, which she enjoys while reading the written promise of the window using some drugstore eyeglasses. She asks about Saul's wife, remembering that, during their road trip, Saul was having marital problems. "She's in Mumbai," Saul says, touched that Aileen remembers. "And you're not," she says. Whatever stories Saul tells himself about that fall away as he sighs, "That's about the size of it." He doesn't question the name Aileen gives him, or the address information; it turns out she "gave up" an old schoolmate of hers who's a musician, not a terrorist and very much not the same guy in the photo. Saul wonders what she got out of lying, then realizes a moment too late -- she wanted a nice day looking at the sunshine and having a pleasant conversation, before ending things with a shard of glass from the bifocals. Saul sobs over her dying form, and later, still rattled, he tells Quinn, "I got emotional. I wanted to believe her … I know better." Don't we all.