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.
Finn does; he knows confessing to the hit-and-run won't do much good. In the limo en route to the Walden-campaign fundraiser both families are attending at Sheriff Witter's horse farm (the donor's name is actually "Rex," but John Finn also played Pacey's father on "Dawson's Creek," and we can never not call him "Sheriff Witter"), Dana insists. She went to the woman's funeral; she's telling, that day, with or without Finn. Finn knows how it's going to go, that it'll get buried but his father will add it to the long list of reasons Finn's a screw-up. Dana doesn't want to believe that, and when Finn keeps putting it off and draining adults' cocktails for "liquid courage," Dana ends up blurting it out to their mothers.
Burying the truth
Mrs. Walden is annoyed, but calm, and tells Jess to let her handle it. Jess doesn't understand what that means, and says she has to talk to Brody; when the Waldens discuss it, they make it sound like Finn just got into a fender-bender: "Why does this kid always get in trouble?" Walden frames it the same way to Brody, that two teenagers messed up, but their fathers shouldn't get "benched" because of it. Neither of the Brodys trusts the Waldens to do the ethical thing, but they do trust the system to let them do the ethical thing -- and they shouldn't.
Brody pulls up at a police station with Dana in the car, ready to stand by her as she reports the hit-and-run. They find Carrie at the entrance; she's there to remind Brody that confessing to the crime will alienate Walden, and Brody's whole immunity deal is based on his closeness with the VP. Dana is highly suspicious of Carrie's presence, and completely revolted by her father's prompt about-face; when he violates her trust by telling her they can't do this today, Dana takes off, yelling that it's obviously about the election and telling Brody, "You're [bushwa]." She's seen what Brody really is now; it can't be undone. Brody wails at Carrie that "none of this is OK"…
…and that brings us back to what happens in the clearing. Sheriff Witter took Brody on a tour of his stables, visiting a horse who survived a badly broken leg with Sheriff Witter's help. Sheriff Witter's a veteran, and they talk about how hard it is to come home, to be a hero for people who need it when, as Brody remarks, "All I did was not die." Sheriff Witter confides that, while he doesn't care for Walden, he's supporting a Walden/Brody ticket so that Brody can run in eight years. This is the Brody Sheriff Witter sees; afterwards, Brody tells Carrie that Sheriff Witter "didn't lose himself" during his tour. "He believes I'm like him," Brody says angrily, wanting to be, trying to be. Sheriff Witter is "the man I could have been." Carrie knows a thing or two about trying to marshal one's various selves, and says gently that "it doesn't always work out the way we want." The kiss -- which makes Brody feel "used, played, lied to. I also feel good. Two minutes with you, I feel good -- how do you pull that off?" If Carrie knew, she'd do it all the time. She'd be the self he trusts, and vice versa. Their selves would line up for each other just so. But it doesn't always...well, you know.
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 10 PM on Showtime.