If you tune into the now Emmy Award-winning terrorism drama Homeland for its second season premiere tonight and find yourself humming a little Lady Gaga, don’t panic. It’s perfectly natural. Because the show’s leads, brilliant and bipolar CIA Agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Sergeant Nick Brody (Damien Lewis), the former POW-turned-possible-terrorist she’s investigating, are pretty much the dictionary definition of a BAD ROMANCE, baby. And we love them for it.
No one would’ve imagined that one of the hottest couples on TV would come from a socio-political terrorism drama on Showtime. But if you watched Homeland’s phenomenal first season, then you know Carrie and Brody are positively scorching together…and fairly toxic. We watched along with Carrie as she surveilled the homecoming hero for weeks, getting to know his daily routine better than his own wife, scouring the screen for signs of terrorist behavior. When the cameras got cut off, the manic, obsessive Carrie orchestrated a meeting, at a support group for soldiers with PTSD. The minute they met, sparks flew. There was an instant connection and chemistry that no one expected—not even the show’s creators.
Executive producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon actually changed the show’s trajectory once they saw the amazing chemistry Danes and Lewis shared—originally Brody was going to die in S1, and Carrie would go on to investigate other threats—to bring their relationship front and center. Unlike most romances, their relationship is fairly explosive right from the start. They hook up on their second meeting, having frantic, alcohol-fueled sex in the backseat of a car in a fairly well-lit parking lot. Shortly after, Carrie compromises her integrity, not disclosing the truth to her boss that Brody lied in a polygraph about never having cheated on his wife.
The next episode they’re running off together to a cabin in the woods, where they proceed to spend the entire weekend baring themselves to one another not just physically but emotionally. They talk and bond, and they don't have sex, but make love. She kisses his torture scars, and in the middle of the sex, they have this interlude where they can't stop looking at each other and it's so perfect he wants to just stop and “live here for a moment.”
I imagine a lot of the audience was asking themselves at this point “Wait, what kind of show is this?” This serious drama about war and politics suddenly took a huge left turn into epic romance between two people who couldn’t be more inappropriate for each other. And then…then it all went wrong. The next morning at the cabin, Carrie slips up, reveals that she’s been watching and suspecting Brody of being a terrorist, which he vehemently denies. She gets intel pointing to the fact that she’s wrong, someone else is the terrorist, and apologizes, but it’s too late. An angry Brody goes back to his family…and sits on the couch and sobs.
The rest of the season played out in a tense cat-and-mouse game as Carrie’s suspicions of Brody didn’t abate, but neither did her intense feelings for him. She continues to basically stalk him, making bad decision after bad decision, trying to approach him on multiple occasions, even going to his teenage daughter and pleading with the girl to contact her father, whom Carrie is sure is about to implement a terrorist attack on US soil.
The rub of it is: she’s right. Brody has been turned by Al Qaeda, though no one knows it and she can’t prove it. And unfortunately for Carrie, she’s fallen in love with him. Brody goes to her boss and gets her fired for her inappropriate actions, and by the season’s end she’s so demoralized to think she’s been wrong and thrown her career away on it, and STILL so tortured by her feelings for him, that Carrie opts to undergo electroshock therapy to get her bipolar illness under control.
Yes, she opted to have her brain zapped in an effort to essentially forget about him. Brody’s ever shifting motivations make him a tougher read, but it seems possible that he too has some lingering Carrie feelings—feelings the producers have said they’re definitely planning on exploiting in the upcoming season. We’ll have to wait a few episodes before we see these two star-crossed lovers reunite—and god only knows how doomed the long-term prospects of a relationship is—but they will cross paths again, according to Gansa and Howard. No doubt it’ll be just as thrilling a ride as Season One.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.