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Pilot
Season 1 Episode 1 promotional.jpg
  Season 1, Episode 1
Written by: Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon & Gideon Raff
Directed by: Michael Cuesta
Production number: 1WAH79
Running time: 56 minutes
Original airdate: October 2, 2011

Last time I saw her like this she entered an Iraqi prison and caused an international crisis. —ESTES, David

EVERYONE'S NOT ME - Carrie Mathison

Pilot is the series premiere of Homeland. It aired on October 2, 2011.

Synopsis

Sergeant Nicholas Brody is miraculously rescued after being held as a prisoner of war for eight years, however CIA agent Carrie Mathison suspects that he might be part of a terrorist plot to attack the United States.

Summary

In Baghdad, Carrie Mathison is frantically trying to meet with a condemned terrorist named Hasan Ibrahim who claims to have intel about an attack Abu Nazir is planning against the U.S. At the same time she calls David Estes in Washington, DC hoping that he'll commute Hasan's death sentence in return for information. Estes says he's unable to do that. At the prison, Hasan tells Carrie, "An American prisoner of war has been turned."

Later in Washington, Estes briefs his team about a successful special forces strike on an enemy base in the Korangal Valley (Afghanistan) that killed 13 militants. What's interesting is the rescue of Sgt. Nicholas Brody, a USMC scout sniper who, along with his partner Cpl. Thomas Walker (who died in captivity), had been MIA and presumed dead since early 2003.

Carrie, Brody and Helen.jpg

Carrie tells Saul Berenson about Hasan's claim regarding a turned POW, which she presumes to mean that Brody is working for Abu Nazir. She believes that Nazir supplied the tip that led to the destruction of the base so that Brody would be found. Carrie requests that he be put under total surveillance: Bug his home, tap his phones, follow him everywhere. Saul refuses, saying he would need evidence to authorize that. Unfortunately, Carrie can't collect anything new since she's in the "penalty box", meaning behind a desk in Washington instead of in the field.

Brody is in Germany preparing for a debriefing, but first he phones his wife, Jessica. Unknown to him, she's in bed with Mike Faber at the time. After they talk, Jessica immediately returns home to their children, Dana and Chris, who weren't expecting her so early. She catches Dana smoking marijuana with her friend Xander. She scolds Dana and kicks out Xander before telling the kids that their father is alive.

An airplane flies Brody to Andrews Air Force Base, where he is to be given a hero's welcome and reunited with his family. While Jessica and the kids are out of their house, Carrie and two men named Virgil and Max enter. Apparently she is paying them herself to place "eyes and ears in every room", and afterward setup monitors in Carrie's place.

Meanwhile Brody is disturbingly ill on the plane, which threatens to ruin the photo opportunity David Estes had planned for his arrival. The Vice President arrives and thanks Estes for his work, saying that he scored points for promotion. Brody is reunited with his family and learns that his mother died four years earlier; he also meets the Vice President and addresses a group of Marines.

The surveillance crew moves to Carrie's apartment to set up the monitors. Max quietly expresses his worry to Virgil that they might be breaking federal laws for someone who is untrustworthy. A blue pill he found in a bottle of aspirin suggests that Carrie is trying to conceal the kind of drugs she's taking.

Brody and Tom.jpg

As Nick and his family leave Andrews AFB, Mike Faber catches up to them. As it turns out they're old friends and now that he's in military intelligence, he's there to arrange a follow-up debriefing between Nick and the CIA. News reporters accost the Brodys outside their home, where Nick lets them have another photo opportunity.

Carrie asks Saul to subject her to Nick's interrogation so she can ask questions face to face. Saul reluctantly agrees to the promise that Carrie will behave. At home, she discovers that Virgil has completed setting up the monitors to watch over Brody's house. At night, she sees Jessica answer the phone, but the caller hangs up and the number is blocked. When Jess and Nick become intimate, she is shocked by the scars on her body and he has sex with her, quickly and forcefully, leaving her in shock.

The next morning, Virgil arrives at Carrie's place to watch the monitors while she's at work. She goes to Nick's debriefing where he faces a panel of questions until finally coming to Carrie's. She asks why his captors kept him alive for eight years when he didn't seem to be of much use to them. She asks why Abu Nazir was never with him, seeing as Nazir would've been the go-to man for the kind of intel Nick could've supplied.

At the Brody home, Jessica prepares for a grilling party they're having that evening with Nick's friends from Bravo Company. Nick phones to say he'll be a little late due to the debriefing. Virgil listens in and knows that this is a lie, so he, Carrie, and Max follow Nick, believing he's going to meet a terrorist contact in Bluemont Park. Instead it turns out that Nick has simply arranged a personal conversation with Helen Walker, the widow of Cpl. Tom Walker. Nick tells her that Tom was beaten to death and claims he wasn't present. A flashback shows that this is a lie. While eavesdropping, Virgil confronts Carrie about the clozapine (an antipyschotic) pill Max found in her bathroom; she says it's under control and that no one else knows about it.

Brody.jpg

Meanwhile, David Estes chastizes Saul for putting Carrie into Nick's debriefing, saying that she tried to turn it into a cross-examination. Estes warns Saul that taking Carrie under his wing is risky for them both, because like him, Saul will find himself getting personally involved in her. Saul enters Carrie's home while she's out and sees that she's monitoring the Brody home. When she returns he tells her to hire a lawyer and report to the Inspector General. Carrie fails to justify her actions, so instead makes a failed attempt to seduce Saul – much like Estes had warned him about.

Mike confronts Jess alone at the party, arguing that they had been very close before Nick returned and now they don't even speak. Nick, seeing Mike and Jess talking alone, appears to be suspicious about how they got along while he was MIA.

Brody pauses from his jog to gaze at the Capitol Building..jpg

Carrie goes out to drink and get laid that evening, lamenting her betrayal of Saul's trust earlier in the day. At the bar a TV is playing a news clip of Nick addressing the crowd at Andrews AFB, which leads Carrie to an epiphany. She wakes Saul and shows him that clip, and another from the photo op with Brody family in front of their home: In both Nick is tapping his fingers in a strange, repeated pattern. Saul agrees to put a cryptanalysis team on it.

A flashback shows Abu Nazir treated Nick kindly during part of his captivity. Nick also apparently beat his partner, Tom Walker, to death at Nazir's instructions. The last shot shows Nick gazing onto the U.S. Capitol with a bit of a smile.

Trivia

In June 2009, US Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl was captured by the Taliban, over the 5 years that he was held by the Taliban and Haqqani Network, Rangers and DEVGRU "spun up" operations to rescue him, but each resulted in a "dry hole". - Neville, Leigh (2015), Special Forces in the War on Terror, General Military, Osprey Publishing, p. 233.

In the backstory, what mistake did Carrie make before 9/11: her detail is mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report, formally named Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, is the official report of the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It was prepared by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (informally sometimes known as the "9/11 Commission" or the "Kean/Hamilton Commission") at the request of United States president George W. Bush and Congress, and is available to the public for sale or free download. The commission was established on November 27, 2002 (442 days after the attack) and their final report was issued on July 22, 2004.

February 10, 2011 – the first scene in Homeland’s pilot is filmed in Barta'a, Israel

“A local was dispatched with money to compensate the street vendors for the inconvenience of having a film crew invade their market. At first the filming seemed an enjoyable curiosity to the vendors, but ‘as the day wore on, the magic wore off, and people were getting understandably upset that we were blocking access,’ recalls Michael Klick. Says [Michael] Cuesta, 'Our contact had paid only one side of the street, and the other merchants were really pissed off. They actually started fighting among each other, but we were afraid they were going to turn on us, so we out of there in a big hurry.’”

Chris' line when Jessica comes home from Mike's: Mom! I thought you were at the movies with Jody?

The meaning of Jody: In the Marines, a "Jody" is a generalized term meaning: any man who stays home while everyone else goes to war. He gets to enjoy all the things the Marines are missing, more specifically the Marine's girlfriend back at home while the Marine is away on active duty. The reason that they're called Jody specifically dates back to black soldiers in WWII. They took a character from old blues songs named Joe the Grinder (or Joe D. Grinder) who would steal the ladies of inmates and soldiers, and clipped his name to Jody.

That's why they say, "Jody's back home, fucking your girlfriend."

Mistakes

Corrected entry: Brody is getting his hair cut, a man enters the room and says "We're ready for you Sergeant Brody, your debriefing." Brody replies "I want to call my wife first." It then cuts to Mike and Jessica. Brody calls Jessica answers, she gets dressed then leaves to go home. Brody didn't call the family residence however, he called Mike's house. How would he have known she was there? And why wouldn't he call her at home? (00:09:00 - 00:11:00)

Correction: He calls a mobile phone. She says "it's mine, it might be the kids." He doesn't call the landline.

Continuity mistake: When Sgt Brody first returns to the US, he's seen in uniform wearing a sergeant's three chevrons with one hash mark, indicating at least 4 years of service. Later, he's a Gunnery Sergeant, with two rockers below the chevrons, plus two additional hash marks to reflect the eight years he was a POW. In the episode "Achilles Heel," Brody and his wife attend a swank Capitol Hill party, but his dress blues have only the three stripes and single hash mark. Throughout the series, everyone addresses Brody as "Sergeant" and never as "Gunny," which is the traditional reference for a Gunnery Sergeant. (00:22:00 - 00:28:00)

Suggested correction: It would have been provided by the military, when he was cleaned up, debriefed and looked after immediately after his rescue. It's mentioned that he returns to the US via a base in Germany, I believe.

Continuity mistake: When Brody calls Jessica while she is laying with Mike, her hands swap from resting on his chest to being on the pillow, between shots, with no transition whatsoever.

Continuity mistake: Just before Carrie is told Brody is going to Bluemont Park, Carrie is shown re-watching Brody's welcoming ceremony on her laptop with the speech the Vice President gave and the speech Brody gave. The footage Carrie is watching on her laptop isn't the same as when the ceremony was broadcast earlier in the episode. The footage on the laptop has the Vice President saying "Sergeant Brody, you're a man who's endured a terrible ordeal" followed by Brody walking up the podium saying "Thank you, Mr. Vice President." But what was shown earlier was the Vice President welcoming Brody home, nothing along the lines of "Sergeant Brody, you're a man who's endured a terrible ordeal." Also, the length of time Brody spent walking to the podium and saying "Thank you, Mr. Vice President" has decreased when re-watching the ceremony on the radio - the actual ceremony showed Brody walking up to the podium for about 3-4 seconds followed by a 1-2 second delay before saying "Thank you, Mr. Vice President", but re-watching it on the laptop, Brody walks up to the podium and says "Thank you, Mr. Vice President" all within a split second of replying. (00:19:40 - 00:37:40)

Plot hole: When Brody is flown back he is wearing his uniform, complete with medals and name. But he has been missing for 8 years! Where is that uniform coming from? Not from his wife, because she just heard from him. (00:04:00 - 00:10:00)

Reviwes

An original scene of Carrie losing her cool in the debrief with Brody and then breaking down outside at the CIA was cut and replaced with this scene, where she panics after Saul discovers her surveillance with Brody. “We made a decision early on that her breakdowns would happen outside the workplace. We needed to maintain her credibility as a professional officer so that we can accept that she has this condition and also is somehow able to do her job.” – Claire Danes

Unforgettable Quotes

An American prisoner of war has been turned.
I'm an American.
Nick Brody to his rescuers


Saul: What were his exact words, please?

Carrie: An American prisoner of war has been turned.

An american prisonner of the war has been turned (...) he meant turned, working for Abu Nazir.
It's just I am a little surprised Sir, Abu Nazir was in charge of coordinating attacks against coalition forces at the time. No one had more reason to sit down with the only two american POWs in his custody.
Carrie Mathison to David Estes during the crossed examination
I often wonder that myself.
Nick Brody to Carrie Mathison as to why he was kept alive for eight years, even though "he stopped being a source of actionnable intelligence fairly quickly"
You know I love you Carrie, but I got to be honest, none of this makes me feel better.
Virgil to Carrie Mathison when he asked her about the clozapine pills


Mom! I thought you were at the movies with Jody? - Chris

You Said Two minutes - Carrie

“Don’t thank me yet…”

“Everyone’s not me.” ↳ Carrie Mathison

“Do you even remember him?”

“Am I still going to jail?”

Comments

"As Carrie, Danes is all brittle edges and weathered glass. She looks easily broken, yet she’s deceptively strong. Those too close to her tend to get sucked into the cyclone, and her life is one lived on the jittery edge of sanity.” –Emily VanDerWerff

“People kept saying, you know, ‘Were you aware of the risk of alienating audiences to the extent that you were?’ And I was like, What?! She’s the most sympathetic person ever! [I had] no consciousness of the fact that she might be a little unpalatable. I don’t know, she seemed like, you know, a teddy bear to me.” –Claire Danes

Because she has such an anemic life, it is easier for her to risk losing it on behalf of her cause. While this is an advantage of sorts, she must live with the pain of her loneliness. –Claire Danes

The result is a powerful and disconcerting allegory of the United States in the post-9/11 era—Terrorism: A Love Story. Carrie’s theory about Brody begins with a legitimate, if incautious, desire to prevent the next attack, but soon sends her into a psychological tailspin. As both CIA analyst and romantic partner, she’s drawn ever closer to her target. Similarly, the U.S. government began the so-called War on Terror with the legitimate desire to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks. In the years since, though, the prospect of “terrorism” seems increasingly to be used as a justification for any application of power, at home or abroad. Like Carrie, Washington hawks have fallen in love with terrorism, even while crazed by the fear of it—it is, after all, the raison d’être of the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Department, and the Department of Homeland Security. Like Carrie, the apparatus of “Homeland Security” requires “terrorism” in order to function, and thus fails to judge adequately any question of means versus ends. It is now difficult to determine where the War on Terror (armed conflict, drones, NSA surveillance, heightened vigilance) ends and the reasons behind terrorist attacks (armed conflict, drones, NSA surveillance, heightened vigilance) begin. –Matt Brennan

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Starring

Co-Starring

Background information

  • Showtime debuted the first episode online prior to its official cable premiere. This preview was edited to "TV-14" ratings standards, blurring and muting aspects of certain scenes. ("Pilot" 720p video at YouTube, "Pilot" video at IMDb)
  • Reception:
    • With 1.08 million viewers, the pilot episode was the most-watched premiere on Showtime since Dead Like Me eight years ago. ([1])
    • Metacritic tallied "universal acclaim" for the pilot, with 28 reviewers averaging a rating of 91% (second only to Breaking Bad season 4 for currently aired shows). ([2])
  • Jessica Brody tells her kids that she's at the movies with "Jody" when she's actually out with Mike Faber. In military slang, a "Jody" is a person at home who steals the soldier's girlfriend (or boyfriend) while they are at war.

External links


Season 1
#101 "Pilot" #107 "The Weekend"
#102 "Grace" #108 "Achilles Heel"
#103 "Clean Skin" #109 "Crossfire"
#104 "Semper I" #110 "Representative Brody"
#105 "Blind Spot" #111 "The Vest"
#106 "The Good Soldier" #112 "Marine One"
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