Fellow fans of the original Star Tours at Disney’s MGM Studios, rejoice! Our favorite old motion simulator got a big, big shout-out in an episode that continues Clone Wars’ impressive winning streak. For my Republic credits, every single episode this season has been a hit. No narrative flab, no filler, just good old solid storytelling. But “A Sunny Day in the Void,” scripted by yarnmaster Brent Friedman, went beyond just entertaining us. This was a truly experimental installment, with supervising director Dave Filoni paying tribute to one of his artistic inspirations, French comics artist Jean Giraud, a.k.a Mœbius.
Other than Tintin creator Hergé, Mœbius, who died this March at the age of 73, may be the best known artist of French/Belgian comics, or bandes dessinées (literally “drawn strips”). He got his start primarily drawing Westerns, like the classic Blueberry series, which serves as a kind of comic strip analogue to Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah’s gritty meta-Westerns. Later on he’d branch out into sci-fi and his series The Incal, co-authored with El Topo director Alejandro Jodorowski, is a foundation text of what we’ve come to know as the dystopian future cityscape, elements of which made their way into concept art he drew and painted for the films Alien and Tron. He was also tapped by George Lucas to contribute designs to Willow and The Empire Strikes Back, where his concept for the Imperial probe droid made it into the film. Mœbius recognized that hyper-detail can be a stepping stone toward surrealism, and though there’s often a stark minimalism in his compositions, his is a textured world simultaneously familiar and alien. Those contrasts are exactly what Filoni & Co. captured in “A Sunny Day in the Void,” with their realization of a bleakly sunny—or sunnily bleak—desert wasteland planet.
But the droids had to get there first! Our heroic, though height-challenged, Col. Gascon (voice magnificently by Stephen Stanton) was puffing out his chest in pride over his successful mission to recover the Separatist encryption module from that Seppie dreadnaught. All that was left was to fly back to the Republic. What little respect he did decide to grant the droids at the conclusion of “Secret Weapons” had seemed to evaporate, however. “How long until my command center is operational again?” he asked, blithely ignoring the fact that his command center, BZ, had been pretty well fried. Gascon just can’t seem to recognize the droids as more than hardware. When Artoo tootled in BZ’s defense, I assume he said, “His name is BZ and he’s a person!”
Homeland, meet Sandy. Honestly, there’s nothing I’d rather do during a storm unanimously heralded as the end of the world than watch a lot of TV and not buy the 83 things my mother emailed me about. Oops. Speaking of the end of the world and s**tshow storms, this Homeland episode answers the whirlwind that occurred last week by showing Brody in chains. Not like Django Unchained chains, but scary military “you’re a terrorist” chains. Again, we get a lot of shots of Brody and Carrie waiting, separately. This has become a thing this season! So much waiting, all of it unbearable. It’s the best-worst thing, because I slowly rip all of my hair out during the waiting . Finally, Estes storms in and everything starts happening.
Essentially, our scrappy secret CIA team has roughly 24 hours to get intel from Brody and return him to the world before the Abu Nazir people (who, at this point, could be every human being in DC) realize that something is very wrong. Carrie has made a major mistake here, but no one really talks about that. Carrie is also not allowed to interrogate Brody, for obvious reasons, so we get The Peter Quinn Show instead; Quinn is looking smokin’, but Carrie is not pleased, and therefore my prediction that the two would bone in the near future could be way off.
We get a lot of talk of Issa this episode, and it starts by Quinn laying out everything we know regarding Brody and the beginnings of his terrorist brainwashing under Nazir’s influence; Brody is telling a lot of lies. Lies that will be undone when Peter finally plays the trump card – Brody’s secret suicide video. Brody denies a lot, screams “SHE’S OBSESSED WITH ME” when Carrie comes into the conversation, and Quinn finally plays the tape as he walks out of the room with a grim expression. Cheers to Damian Lewis and his face through all of this.
I kind of wish this episode had kept everything contained inside the bunker, but we had to venture out into the rest of civilization for some things; I’m just a huge fan of claustrophobic entertainment, which is maybe why I cannot handle claustrophobia in real life. Dana has given Xander the boot, mainly because she is so enamored by Finn, the mildly douche-y but super cute son of the VP. They make plans to experience the “widescreen agony” of Sergio Leone, which is something I 100 percent was not talking about when I was their age. I thought Finn was dumb? Is Finn cooler than me? Help? Also, Estes plants the lie that Brody is helping with a top-secret project, and to tell his family/friends/co-workers that he has “the flu” and is hanging out at the hotel. More lies. Lies are everywhere!
Quinn and Brody continue duking it out in the bunker, as Brody keeps saying that he just made the tape but didn’t actually wear a bomb. Good try, Brody. Great attempt. Brody pleads that he wasn’t involved in the Tom Walker plot, and his conviction is so damn sincere that I almost believe him (or believe that he believes himself). Quinn begins bringing Brody’s family into the conversation, before cranking up the volume level and screaming about America/Amurrica. AND THEN QUINN STABS BRODY THROUGH THE HAND WITH A GIANT KNIFE. Carrie, Saul, and Estes freak the hell out, understandably, and rush in to make sure the issue doesn’t escalate.
Jessica is freaking out at home about Brody, because she brought soup for his “flu” to the hotel room but Brody is obviously nowhere to be found. I mean, duh. In the bunker, Brody’s hand has been wrapped up to stop the bleeding and whatnot, and Carrie has taken over the interrogation; while this makes me incredibly nervous, Saul points out that Carrie knows Brody and Abu Nazir better than anyone else. Saul also asks Quinn if his knife stabbing was “all theater,” and Quinn knows that “every good cop needs a bad cop.” Way to play the field, Peter! Maybe that sex isn’t a no-go after all! Carrie starts off saying a lot of crazy things, like “You broke my heart, you know. Was that easy? Was that fun?” and “Go ahead – I’m a big girl, I can take it.” Carrie unlocks Brody’s chains, and turns off all the cameras. That’s obviously the best way to create an intimate interrogation room. Yep, it’s just the two of them in there. Saul and Peter still have audio in the other room, but Carrie is taking this in her hands.
Carrie unspools her emotions for Brody, and once again these two are locked in with one another. Carrie is truly, deeply in love with Brody, but where does she draw the line between her own emotions and her job? It’s all so confusing! Carrie! Carrie asks Brody the last time he told the truth (umm, never), and Brody’s face slowly but surely begins to break. We go through the drone strike again, and Carrie begins explaining to Brody that Abu Nazir is the real monster, that there is a definitive difference between warfare and terrorism. Is anyone out there a single-issue voter? Are you single-issuing on drone strikes? Are you watching this zany television show? Brody starts giving answers, starts explaining that he knows there will be another attack on the United States but that he truly doesn’t know the details. He gives up Roya’s connection to Abu Nazir. Everyone else is dead.
Brody is given a call to Jessica, and explains that he will be home at the end of the night. Brody really is the best at lying in the entire world. Jessica is having dinner with Dana and Chris, and the entire family is kind of to the point where they’ll believe what Brody says when it actually happens. Because, well, Brody is a mess. If it wasn’t for this whole CIA intervention thing, did he really think he could pull off the juggling act much longer? Also, why is Jessica still calling her husband Brody? I know I talk about this too much but I find it weird still. That’s his last name. C’mon.
Jessica and Dana have a nice mother-daughter chat on the porch (I’m loving their relationship this season) before Finn shows up with his Secret Service escort for their first movie date. How adorable! However, Dana wants to do “something fun,” which obviously means outrunning the escort and creating a personal Jason Bourne moment… until the whole thing ends with Finn hitting a woman with his car. Yep. That’s not good. Finn wants to flee the scene, as the Vice President’s son can’t get caught up in that sort of drama, and Dana has to go along. I was crying during the car chase sequence, because it was very obvious that something very awful was bound to occur. This is going to end very badly, especially if this was just the first date. The Bush sisters didn’t even pull that kind of drama. Or, I don’t think they did.
Brody is curled up in a ball on the floor of the interrogation room, and Carrie sort of gives him his options, which aren’t really options at all. Basically, Brody must cooperate with the CiA in bringing down Abu Nazir, and then disappear from politics forever and ever. Amen. Does this make Brody a triple agent? Is that a thing? Immunity is on the table, and I don’t know if Brody deserves this much trust at the moment, but there doesn’t seem another direction to move for any of the players involved. In the other room, Peter and Saul construct a brand new Abu Nazir bulletin board, starting from scratch with the information that Brody provided; it’s a beautiful sight, recalling a lot of complicated emotions from the bulletin board moments of Season 1, and it’s also a nice visual metaphor for the hard reboot this show is experiencing almost every week. This bulletin board montage was my favorite scene of the episode, honestly.
Carrie goes to drop Brody off at home, and she tells him that their affair is the cover for meeting up from here on out. Brody holds Carrie’s hand, and it’s an interestingly heavy moment for the two of them and I absolutely hate it. Their relationship could go anywhere, considering that Carrie’s explanation of just telling the truth coming in the form of vocalizing her wish that Brody would leave his wife and kids for her. UH OH. I can’t trust either of these nutty fools! As Carrie pulls away from Brody’s house, someone else is watching Brody/Carrie; again, this show is pulling a subtle reboot, letting older plotlines wash out and introducing new directions for the show to wiggle. I’m so nervous-excited I could puke.
Brody can finally tell his family something true, as he explains to Jessica that he is working for the CIA. Carrie, meanwhile, drinks a lot of wine in not many gulps and wanders around her empty house. Again, we’re stuck with simply more waiting. More terribly uncomfortable waiting – Carrie blames Brody’s actions for pushing her to some place true insane that led to the treatment, and I’m afraid that rekindling contact with him will continue to push that imbalance in Carrie. Yet, we all know that Carrie’s imbalance is also her pure genius. We all need Carrie to hold it together.
It was really difficult to recap this episode because so much of the tension sat within the dialogue, the pacing, and the delivery of the interrogation. I mean, the majority of the hour was dedicated to an interrogation that took place in a single room, which is all played in slight tone shifts and subtle wordplay. The episode reminded me a little bit of a season premiere, especially as we sort of slammed on the brakes after hopping all over the place with bigger action sequences the last few weeks. There’s a dread that’s been sneaking up this season, even as it seems Brody now plays for the good guys. I can’t breathe very well right now.
[Image Credit: Kent Smith/Showtime (2)]
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