The Night Manager (2016)

Oh the delicious thrill of a handsome and classically-trained English actor working his way across a sprawling drama set in sumptuous locales. Never mind that the plot, like so many British adaptations of spy thrillers – think Worricker Trilogy and London Spy — makes little sense.  You can’t take your eyes off our hero and you lean closer to hear when he says “I hope the weather wasn’t too ghastly.”  That’s the power of Tom Hiddleston’s performance in the AMC-BBC collaboration The Night Manager a short series based on a LeCarre story.

Hugh Laurie of House fame (and wealth) plays arms dealer Richard Roper who has for decades escaped British agent Angela Burr played by the excellent Olivia Colman.  Roper crosses paths with Jonathan Pine played by Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers, Crimson Peak) an ex-soldier and night manager at a Cairo hotel.  At the hotel. a beautiful woman with whom Pine has connected is murdered as a result of an arms deal.  Enter Angela Burr, played by Olivia Colman, a shoved aside agent fighting at cross purposes within the British government to bring Roper down. Burr recruits Pine and we are off to the sunny climes of Roper’s world in Turkey, Switzerland, Morocco, Spain and again Egypt.

Laurie is fine but not great. His acting is a bit self-conscious and he relies on facial tics and expressions during gaps in dialogue.  He is not quite good enough to overcome the silly plot holes. What man would lock Hiddleston in with his gorgeous blonde American girlfriend at a sun-drenched luxury villa and not come home expecting trouble?

Burr’s whose work in Broadchurch, Run, and W1A, has rightly earned her a devoted following is wonderful as the pregnant and put upon British agent.  She carries her scenes even though thee are other excellent supporting actors in them.

Alas, the plot is the real weakness. Ludicrously, there is literally a list of illegal arms Roper is buying hidden is a drawer which is copied for Burr and passed around a corrupted MI5 with whispers akin to “You can’t mention you saw this to any one in the British government working with the arms dealer Roper because it will definitely get my source killed . . .”

You shouldn’t watch this for plot. You watch it for the mood, the acting, the scenery.

The cinematography is breathtaking. It surely makes you question those Jersey shore vacation plans.   And Hiddleston makes you question every director’s casting decision when it doesn’t involve a dashing RADA graduate.

John Adams (2008)

All the hip hop about Hamilton has drawn me into a torrent of books about the founding fathers. The eyestrain reminded me that there was an old and much ballyhooed HBO series eponymously named for its subject – our second President whose single term was rapped up in Hamilton by Jefferson as “Adams shat the bed… I love the guy, but he’s in traction.”

Too bad the miniseries isn’t in much better shape. Paul Giamatti plays Adams with an unnervingly modern spirit. He is irascible, dour, foppishly petulant to the point of insult at the French court, cold and unforgiving to his disappointing children and befriended only by his wife Abigail – played by the predictably mannered Laura Linney — and at times, by Thomas Jefferson played wonderfully by Stephen Dillane.

You don’t like Giamatti’s Adams. You are glad he is undone by Jefferson, secretly, and Hamilton, openly. His defeat in the election of 1800 is portrayed as a result of a peace treaty with Napoleon that came just a bit too late for the electors. In reality, Adams made many, many mistakes and had too few allies and too many powerful enemies.

HBO wants you to believe Adams pulled off the Declaration of Independence almost alone and was undone by bad luck. Really he comes off as undeserving of the Presidential office to which he is elected.

The writing piles on the unforgiveable character flaws making it hard to like him. It makes it appear that Adams abandoned his children permanently while he did little in the foreign courts of Europe. In fact, at different times he did bring his family to Europe and even returned to Massachusetts for a stay during which he was key to the creation of the Massachusetts state constitution later a model for the U.S. Constitution.

The show unforgivably reduces the great Abigail Adams to housewife. Abigail’s hundreds of surviving letters reveal her to be Adams’ true confidante and advisor. The Hamilton to his Washington in many ways. But here she chides Adams annoyingly about his vanity and temper. To be fair, Laura Linney’s Abigail is given little to do except worry over the lack of letters from Adams while he is in France, smile at Jefferson’s compliments when she gets there., and generally swing between wide-eyed delight at some clever remark and deep fretting over a family matter. In one scene, Abigail makes a cutting reference to Mrs. Franklin’s “inconvenience” when she meets Franklin’s girlfriend at the French court who declares that old Ben has been trying to woo her into marriage. So we learn Abigail was a nosy mean girl — a conscious choice by the writers since the real Abigail Adams would have known that Mrs. Franklin had been dead for over a decade when she arrived in Paris.

Yet the redeeming features of this miniseries are some terrific supporting performances. Tom Wilkinson brings a wry cleverness and depth to our national treasure Ben Franklin as he limps around the French Court sporting a coonskin cap and teaching the eighteenth century a lesson in the power of branding. Stephen Dillane’s Jefferson is quiet and introspective and draws you in. We see Franklin swirling on Jefferson’s swivel chair. We see Jefferson quietly agree to write the Declaration of Independence as Adams requests. And we see him taking edits from Adams and Franklin with quiet equanimity. Later we see Jefferson writing Adams with a quill pen whose movements are mirrored by another quill pen in one of Jefferson’s great inventions – an early copying machine.

His machinations against Adams in the press come as a great shock to Adams, in part, because Jefferson seems so uninterested in such foul play. Since we know Adams was deeply wounded and surprised by Jefferson’s betrayal, this is well done by Dillane.

Rufus Sewell has only a few scenes as Hamilton but he plays our first Treasury Secretary with quiet dark power. We hear Hamilton fighting with Jefferson in a meeting with Washington (as Adams stands impotently outside the door). We see Hamilton uttering a few words while sitting at a corner desk quill in hand. In Sewell’s best scene, Hamilton expounds on the details of the army he was building for Adams during the Quasi War. As Hamilton starts explaining the breakdown of battalions, platoons, and squads he is creating, Adams with impatience brushes him off. We are supposed to understand that Adams wants to avoid war while Hamilton is delighting in the details of the effort. But it comes off that Adams is the dense one. Hamilton wants a standing army and the assertion of American power. Adams wants to avoid a stupid and costly war. They are both right but in vastly different temporal scope. Sewell’s acting pulls this off.

But the clash ultimately undoes Adams as he loses the support of his own party in the election of 1800. We don’t really understand from the miniseries how this happens. His peace treaty arrives too late. How sad. Adams sits in the White House squinting at a book while the battle between Jefferson and Burr rages.

Therein lies the problem with the miniseries. It’s boring. It dumbs down some of the most exciting times in our early history and portrays Adams as a sad unlovable victim who brings America into being then makes a few mistakes and is buffeted by events he doesn’t understand and can’t control. And Giamatti’s performance doesn’t hold your attention over the dull writing. The best parts of the series when other great actors come onscreen and elevate the action. And those scenes almost make the series worth watching. Almost.

Its binge worthy only for history buffs who want to tally the many, many historical errors. Predictably, it has been showered with awards including Emmys for Giamatti, Linney and Wilkinson. One out of three ain’t bad. But don’t be fooled. There is better television and better history out there.

The Detectorists (2014 – )

Mackenzie Crook’s The Detectorists follows eccentric mates Andy and Lance – and a few chums  – as they sniff over the grounds of fictional Danebury, metal detectors in hand. The “detectorists,” as they insist on being called, enjoy their search for historical treasure as both adventure and escape from their daily lives. And why wouldn’t they? The scenery is bucolic and the filming gives every frame the fragrance and taste of summertime in Suffolk. You know you want to go there.

As for the plot – well not much happens in their small town but what does happen seems real. Their club has a rivalry with the Antiquisearchers, a Simon-and-Garfunkelesque duo with a connection to a university that threatens to oust our heroes from their preferred hunting grounds.  We follow the ups and downs of that contest as we follow the characters personal relationships.  Andy’s marriage hits a bump in more ways than one.  And we learn that Lance’s pining for his manipulative ex-wife was not all that blind.  And through these tribulations the quirky detectorists of the Danebury Metal Detecting Club continues on mission – pulling up bottle caps and barbed wire in the hunt for Saxon treasure.

The series is a comedy. The humor is dry and the characters are cleverly drawn. The effect is that even the characters we are not supposed to like are rather likeable. The Antiquisearchers are more hapless than evil.  Lance’s ex-wife and her new man come off as genial and oblivious lovers even when they are mistreating Lance.

The overall effect is seductive.  We want to know what happens to the funny sweet and hapless people of Danebury because Cook’s marvelous writing makes them seem very real. There is Andy’s live-in girlfriend Becky (Rachel Stirling) who loves him and supports him even while laughing at his passion for “detecting.”  When Becky gets upset with Andy over a supposed betrayal, we understand why.  She’s not a shrill, brow-beating sit-com narcissist. She’s a real woman who is beautiful and caring and puts up with Andy’s hobby because she loves him – so much harder on her is the pain of deceit.

The real star is Mr. Cook’s considerable talent on display in his writing, directing, and starring in the series. He is well known in British comedy since his days with The Office which launched a great and prolific career. The Detectorists has him stepping up his game into early Netflix and UK Christmas special territory.  Sweet.  It would be hard to find anyone else more responsible for The Detectorists success – or failure had that been the case.

So far one of two UK seasons is available on Acorn TV and Netflix. Lets hope there is more to come of the metal-detecting duo and their friends.

London Spy (2015)

In London Spy, BBC America brings us its special mix of superb acting, intense drama and unintelligible plot. The wonderful Ben Whishaw plays recovering risk-taking hedonist Danny – whose chance meeting with tragically-brilliant Alex (Edward Holcroft) sparks a deep and meaningful romance which overcomes Danny’s awkwardness and Alex’s sexual inexperience. You want this couple to succeed and it does for a time.

Enter an all-powerful shadowy conspiracy which tears them apart with ludicrously expansive effort. There is a murder painstakingly staged as sado-masochistic play gone wrong. The frame gets tighter with taped post-coital confessions, a honey-pot infidelity, and a dredge of Danny’s past self-destructive acts. Throughout, Danny insists on his innocence to his only friend Scotty, an older gay establishment figure played with sparing emotion by Jim Broadbent.

Danny is tailor made for the gifted Whishaw who wears Alex’s fear and self-doubt in every movement. He turns to Alex’s door only to turn away and back again. The effect is so compelling, its hard to look away.

When I first saw Ben Whishaw perform, it was at The Old Vic in Trevor Nunn’s 2004 Hamlet. The 23-year-old RADA graduate was a sensation and he brought an immature authenticity to Hamlet’s struggle. On the night I saw the play Whishaw mangled the “To be, or not to be” soliloquy. He skipped lines and lost the thread. The star struck school girls in the row ahead of us didn’t seem to mind, but I did. But my disappointment was not because I’d flown thousands of miles with excitement to see the Hamlet of the moment with a young actor in the role of the young Hamlet. I was disappointed because Whishaw was so very promising, I wanted to see him at his best.

In London Spy, he is at his best. He peels back the layers of his relationship with Alex whom he realizes he didn’t really know. Danny needs to separate what is true from what the conspirators who seemingly include Alex’s family want him to believe. He’s put under unfathomable pressure. His freedom, his health and his life are threatened. In short, it’s a great vehicle for a gifted actor.

The cinematography doesn’t disappoint and the direction is fast-paced where it should be and slow and languorous where that is appropriate.

The problem comes from the writing. Despite all the edgey acting Whishaw brings to the role, there is a mystery to be solved. And its resolution leaves the viewer as befuddled as the conspirators’ efforts appear histrionic.

You can’t help but wonder why an all-knowing spy cabal has to go to such elaborate effort to destroy a couple of almost friendless gay kids. Why not stage a car crash? Arrange an overdoes of some club drug? Or just disappear them ruthless dictator style? It seems pointless plot twists are the weakness in many a British TV spy drama. Fans of the great spy plots like LeCarre brought forth find themselves frustrated when such a series rolls along without a whimper of logic. Think of the Worricker series starring Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Christopher Walken or Restless starring Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling.  It is as if the writers think a coherent plot will detract from the talent of the actors they’ve assembled.

The whole genre reminds me of a 1986 SNL sketch in which Bond villains share tips for successful global domination. A key takeaway from Randy Quaid’s villain Emilio Largo: “If James Bond manages to infiltrate your complex and you capture him, just, just kill him.” Adds Jimmy Breslin’s Goldfinger “If you’re close enough to Bond to drop a tarantula on him, you’re close enough to shoot him.”

Of course, if the Bond villains had heeded that advice, we’d have missed the chance at many viewing hours enjoying the peerless Bond’s escape and evil’s noisy demise.  In London Spy, a more efficient destruction of Danny and Alex would have cheated us of watching the deliciously captivating Ben Wishaw playing out Danny’s love, loss and torment.  On second thought, I’ll take the plot holes.

The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey (Ømen: En krimi-odysse) 2004-06

My latest binge was The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey, a three-season Danish TV series (Ømen: En krimi-odysse) which ran from 2004 to 2006 and won an International Emmy Award for best non-American television drama series in 2005.

The Eagle, follows a team of mostly beautiful and always intrepid Danish police officers as they thwart all the crimes human frailty can invent.   The squad is an amalgam of stereotypes but the result is a pleasant mix of characters.   Our hero, Hallgrim Øm Hallgrimsson, played with a commanding quietness by Jens Albinus, is a gifted Icelandic investigator whose talent for timely identifying the crime in play is likened by his colleagues to an eagle’s vision of lower-flying prey and ground movement far below.  Alas, our crack cop Hallgrim is haunted in the style of Fox Mulder chasing his lost abducted sister or Jackson Brodie reliving his sibling’s watery end or, well, you get the idea.  Hallgrim’s ghost springs from an incident involving his first girlfriend, his wet-brained father and the guilt of shirked responsibility.  The trauma leaves Hallgrim an aggressive serial monogamist with commitment issues that should earn him a volume discount on engagement rings.  But because he so effortlessly keeps Scandinavia and a good bit of Europe from all sorts of bombs, bullets, and blood diamond badness – and because he is crazy beautiful, we aren’t supposed to mind the trail of broken hearts.  And I didn’t.  None of those women understood him.  He is a tortured and handsome investigator.  These guys only find happiness when the series is cancelled.

Of course, ghosts are appropriate in Denmark, especially if they appear near Kronborg Castle, helpfully subtitled as “Elsinore” for well-read American couch potatoes.  Hallgrim’s ghost takes human form and acts like a love doctor pointing out his many relationship fails.  Its an annoying device but one that is more at home in the character’s Icelandic folklore and probably, better accepted by Scandinavian audiences.  An American serial would use blackouts or blurry visions accompanied by unintelligible speech to signal an unresolved past.  This guardian ghost is at least a refreshing change.

The squad is bossed by Thea Nellemann, a well-to-do iron lady with a heart, played by the incomparable Danish film star Ghita Norby in the style of Judi Dench’s “M.” Squad members include Marie Wied (Marina Bouras), Hallgrim’s subordinate and sometimes love interest who looks disturbingly like his twin; Ditte Hansen (Susan Olsen), the better half of a married crime-scene-investigator duo who turns cop with a crumbling marriage; Nazim Talawi (Janus Nabil Bakrawi), an unassuming action hero whose backstory includes surviving a Jordanian refugee camp and earning Hallgrim’s unquestioned trust; Villy Frandsen (Steen Sig Lommer) the middle-aged sad-sack and steady hand and Michael Kristensen (David Owe), the young hottie computer whiz who makes a fateful mistake.

If, like me, you enjoy foreign police procedurals as a way of peering into another culture through the familiar lens of heroes and villains, then The Eagle is for you. The plots move and overlap.  One crime is solved but a thread takes us into another even more nefarious criminal plot.  Car chases and shootouts are few, but electronic surveillance is constant and mobile phones are tapped with the touch of a key stroke or switch of a battery even when permission is denied by toady politicos.  Defense attorneys are corrupt obstructions to justice who must be manipulated as part of the sting.  The Eagle keeps it moving and only the cops are the good guys.

But subtitled TV takes effort. This means that binge TV standards must be higher for foreign series.  The Eagle is good stuff not great stuff.  Its not top of the list for foreign TV viewing. Save it for after you’ve seen Engrenages (Spiral), Borgen, Bron/Broen (The Bridge), Forbrydelsen (The Killing) and almost every British crime drama out there.  But do put it on your list.

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS FOR SEASON FOUR OF HOMELAND

Season Three’s thrilling plot twists, improbable surprises and gaping plot holes kept me riveted. As we approach the Season Four opener for Homeland, I have more than a few questions unanswered. Of course, none of us can be sure that the writers intend to give us any answers. But here’s what puzzles me most:

What happened to the encryption key Brody stole from Estes safe?

When Roya Hammad sent Brody to steal it, she said it was an encryption key to a database of potential targets. This doesn’t make sense. The coordinates of drone targets or instructions to a drone would be encrypted but it wouldn’t be kept in a database accessible through a lengthy encryption key (and don’t they just mean password, here?) that is kept on paper in a locked safe. The CIA has to move faster than this in pursuing targets. Or maybe it is a drone strike list and maybe it plays into the Season 4 drone debacle teased out in trailers. And maybe Brody held back this theft of that file during his post-flip debrief by Carrie.

Other bloggers have suggested that it an encrypted list of Nazir’s possible targets which fits with Brody’s follow up question. He asks Hammad if Nazir intends to hit one of these targets. So this is a secret list of secret Nazir targets that the CIA encrypts so that no one can read it and protect those targets. No, it makes less sense that the CIA would compile a list of terror targets and lock it away. What would it read: “Freedom Tower, Pentagon, U.S. embassies, naval carriers . . . .” I’d think the question of what Nazir will hit must be everywhere at the CIA. Hammad was lying and the encryption is to important CIA sources and methods.

Anyway, the list in Estes office certainly doesn’t sound like the blueprint for getting a car bomb from Lot C at Langley to the front steps undetected. But who knows? The writers haven’t told us and I want to know what happened to this information.

Did Brody even tell his handlers that he’d stolen the list? He does edit his revelations and omitted key information from Carrie and the team even after his rejoining Team USA.

We know that a debriefing of the turned again Brody takes place off screen between the brilliant “Q and A” episode and “A Gettysburgh Address” and that during that debrief Brody withheld his involvement in Bassel’s death. Carrie takes the fall for a poor debrief when an angry Quinn explodes (“The deal is full fucking disclosure not pick and choose what you say.”) That time period during which Brody withheld the Bassel death is about two weeks because as Roya says when Brody approaches her the next day: “FBI surveillance went in to the tailor shop. After sitting on it for two weeks, they finally went in today.” And Quinn says as he leads his team in to the tailor shop: “We should have been here weeks ago.”

What did Brody say about the encryption key during the debrief? And what did Nazir do with it?

Who is the mole?

There is a mole. The most notable example of the work of the mole is the warning given to Aileen Morgan as Faisel is being tailed home to the airport house. The mole either passed that information on to an operative who called Aileen or placed the call himself. Brody never had contact with Aileen Morgan or Professor Raqim Faisel. He doesn’t list them in “Q and A” as among the Nazir operatives with whom he’s had contact and even if he did, the voice on the phone wasn’t his and he didn’t have access to information about the CIA’s investigation. And the voice on the phone wasn’t Walker’s. Nor did Walker have CIA access.

But the signs point to the mole being inside the CIA — maybe even the same person who got the bomb onto the Langley campus and put it right at the front door. Could it even be the unfortunate individual whom Franklin gave an acid bath in “A Red Wheelbarrow.”

Who handed Brody’s car keys to the Langley bomber?

This is the tantalizing question raised by Majid Javadi– as he drives with Carrie to the plane in “Gerontion.”

Javadi: “Almost there. . . almost there and you still haven’t asked”
Carrie: “What?”
Javadi: “Who moved the bomb?”
Carrie: “You told Saul it was one of Abu Nazir’s guys?”
Javadi: “Yes I did.”
Carrie: “Which I already knew.”
Javadi: “And who handed him the keys? Don’t tell me you never wondered. I bet you wonder all the time. Brody escaped the blast. Did he know it was coming?
Carrie: “Maybe I already know the answer to that?
Javadi: “Maybe you don’t.”

Javadi dangles the possibility of Brody’s involvement perhaps to flush out Carrie’s romantic interest in Brody. He doesn’t answer it. He makes Carrie ask him herself about the possibility of a coconspirator handing over the SUV keys, as he boards the plane for parts East. He says he doesn’t have the answer but puts her on the trail – “

Javadi: “. . . if you want to talk to someone you can trust . . .who was there . . . you should know that the man who built the bomb and moved the SUV didn’t die in the explosion like they say.”

Was this a mind game for Carrie? Javadi didn’t mention the keys when Saul asks him about Brody. That exchange was more direct:

Saul: “I need to know something before you leave. I need to know – who was responsible for the bomb? . . . On that ground that day, who was responsible?”

After being pushed, Javadi finally replies:
“It wasn’t him. It was one of Abu Nazir’s guys. Who exactly, I didn’t want to know.”

That bit of information is important to Saul because he intends (at first without Carrie’s knowledge or assistance) to recruit Brody to assassinate General Danesh Akbari, the Iranian Intelligence Chief, described as Javadi’s boss and “the single greatest impediment to peace.” Saul needed Brody to be an innocent fugitive from the Langley bombing and not a two-time traitor to the USA. A two-time traitor couldn’t be trusted loose in Tehran. (Imagine, if Brody publicly sought asylum and condemned America on Farsi-language TV. )

And we know from interviews with show runners that Saul probably suspects that Brody was coerced by Nazir into killing the VP to save Carrie. So finding out that Brody had nothing to do with Nazir’s group bombing the CIA makes sense to Saul and allows him to move forward with his plan to use Brody as a weapon.

Perhaps it’s a mind game. But he gratuitously offers up the Langley bomber to Carrie as being tied to his lawyers and sends Carrie out to find the information.

Nazir’s questions point back to some deliberate camerawork in the Season 2 finale “The Choice.” We see Brody parking his car under a sign that reads “C.” We see Brody holding his keys in his right hand for several seconds as he pulls his jacket on. He is still holding them as he walks forward out of Lot C but then a quick cut takes him to the steps of the CIA where he reaches out to shake a soldier’s hand. No keys after that. Are they in his pocket? Did he pass them to general or someone else on the way from Lot C? Does the CIA valet have them? (What a terrible job that would be – six months of security clearances and constant lie detector tests to get bad tips from underpaid federal employees).

There is also Brody’s timely exit from the memorial service with Carrie and uncomfortable expression when Carrie tells him she is choosing him over the CIA and the blank way he notices his SUV out the window.

And there is Brody’s earlier curious behavior in “Two Hats” after being dropped off by Nazir. I don’t mean omitting from his debriefing with the CIA the fact that he and Nazir prayed together. I mean his writing something intently and quickly while leaning against the doorframe when he is talking to Carrie about moving his family. What was Brody writing in Two Hats? Whatever he is writing, it is important enough to multitask while arranging for his family’s safety. And Brody says he’ll call back in an hour to give the CIA time to move his family. He had time to do something with that note before being under surveillance again.

And we don’t know if Brody told the CIA everything about his involvement with Nazir’s network from the time he was flipped by Carrie in the thrilling episode “Q and A.” Brody lists for Carrie the members of Nazir’s network with whom he’s had contact since returning: the journalist Roya Hammad, Bassel something, the Gettysburgh tailor, Afzhal Hammid who killed himself with a razor blade after Brody’s visit, Al Zharani, the Saudi attaché who died in a bombing, and Tom Walker, killed by Brody in a tunnel.

We know he did tell the CIA about killing Walker because that theme resurfaces when his marine buddies try to prove that he did and Faber even checked Brody’s ammunition and the CIA stops them.

And we know, Brody omitted his murder of the tailor Bassel from his off screen ”debrief” by Carrie and the team which occurred sometime between “Q and A” and “A Gettysburgh Address” by which time Bassel’s shop was already under surveillance. Quinn tells Carrie that Brody is a pathological liar and Carrie blames herself for not pressing him at the debrief. Those material omissions are lies even if they are backward looking.

We don’t know for sure if he slipped Hammid the razor during his visit. He must have done so – unless the CIA has a mole with great access or the CIA really was stupid enough to let a terrorist keep any article of clothing that could contain a razor after a strip search. (Prison slippers not in the budget at Langley?)

But the writers have been telling us through the three seasons that Brody’s lies are ones of omission. And they tell us not to trust Brody because they also tell us Carrie doesn’t fully trust him. Carrie professes to have fallen in love with Brody during “The Weekend.” But Carrie knows that at the Lake, Brody gave her a carefully-tailored version of taking comfort from Nazir, loving Issa and killing Walker. As they part in “The Choice,” Brody tells her “you gave it up to me” and Carrie replies “completely.” Yet hours earlier Carrie pulled a gun on him after the Langley bombing and accused him of planting the Langley bomb just as she confronted him in his Congressional office after the Gettysburgh slaughter.

Yes, we should have our doubts about Brody and his actions. As Saul tells Carrie when he prods her to take a post as station chief he’s arranging with Estes, he’ll always be the “man who put on a suicide vest.”

But if the writers are trying to tell us that Brody had a part in the bombing, that is based on circumstantial nothings. It doesn’t fit any of the key facts as we know them.

It was actually Carrie who nodded to Brody at the Memorial Service that she wanted to leave the room where Issa’s killer was being lauded. And Carrie went to the service because Brody asked her to meet him there. He shook Finn’s hand before sitting down. Are we to believe he is really a child killer like Walden the man he despises? And that he brought Carrie into the danger zone.

Then there is Brody’s coercion by Nazir in “Broken Hearts” while Nazir had a gun to Carrie’s head. This couldn’t have been staged for her benefit because they kept speaking as she ran away out of ear shot. Of course, Brody could have given Nazir the serial number to the pacemaker without the taking of Carrie hostage. For that matter, Brody could have transposed one digit of the serial number to save Walden and still given Carrie time to run. But the opportunity was too tempting . . . Walden is a child-murdering monster to Brody and Nazir was threatening to run after Carrie. The murder of Walden still fits with Brody working with Carrie.

Finally, there is Brody’s spectacular ashtray assassination of the head of Iran’s Intelligence in “Big Man in Tehran” the penultimate episode of Season Three. In its aftermath, he struggles over the redemption the act offered and there is no trace of the doubt that he has been trying to walk the path Carrie has laid out for him.

No, it just doesn’t work that Brody was part of Nazir’s network during the Langley bombing. I’ve thought that maybe Nazir threatened to reveal his role in the VP’s death but when was there time? Nazir was dead soon after the death of the VP – perhaps one or two days later at the outside if we followed Carrie lack of sleep. It doesn’t even make sense that the memorial service for Walden could have been arranged in the time it took to do a Muslim burial for Nazir – let alone that a plan to bomb it was formed.

Brody has to be clear of the Langley bombing. I don’t think Brody is lying to Carrie anymore about who he is after she breaks him of “the lies that undo us” in “Q and A” although he does try to omit some of the worst details. And he was being honest with Dana in “The Choice” when he said to her: “I don’t want to lie to you.” When asked about Carrie’s accusations on the day he strapped on the vest, he tacitly admitted his crime without breaching his deal of silence with the CIA telling Dana “Carrie isn’t crazy.”

Brody tells Dana definitively that he wouldn’t do those things again. And Brody is many things. But he was someone trying to shed himself of the lies to go back to being a man like the President whom Brody describes in “The Clearing” as someone “who didn’t lose himself” after seeing the horrors of war.

So just who were the Langley coconspirators?