Guess Who’s Back (Again) On Homeland?
Hint: He's red, and his name rhymes with 'Frody'. And with the season finale just weeks away, he's been given one last mission. [spoilers]
Welcome to our Homeland recaps. This week’s episode was ‘One Last Time’. Spoilers throughout, including many references to that redheaded one.
There’s a moment during ‘One Last Time’ where you will nervously laugh, another point where you might just yell “What the shit!?” (again), and another where you will roll your eyes. This is where we’re at with TV’s most twistiest show, as it throws even more twists into the equation just for kicks: we now watch it waiting to be shocked, while also hoping that it doesn’t devolve into a teen melodrama rather than a spy thriller. And one question hangs over the last third of the season: can Homeland pull this off?
We last saw Carrie Mathison with a bullet in her arm, after she broke CIA ranks in an effort to ‘clear’ Brody’s name. Unbeknownst to her, Brody had been picked up in Venezuela by Saul and magicked off to a safe house in Virginia to detox from the heroin habit he picked up (along with “probably Hep C, and maybe even HIV”. Jesus, what a shitty TripAdvisor recommendation).
With Brody back in the country and Saul and Carrie believing he’s not the Langley bomber, what’s the end game here? Well, it’s not that easy. Remember, he did kill the Vice President. And, as Saul so brilliantly puts it: “Clear Brody? What does that even mean?” When you’ve got an ex-Marine terrorist on heroin wanting to blow people up and a pregnant CIA agent chain-smoking and drinking metric fucktons of tequila, it’s a good question.
Brody may be the centrepiece to Homeland’s end game, but unfortunately, their run, um, home has dovetailed with real life events over the past week. Homeland had no way of knowing that peace talks between Iran and the USA would actually reach an understanding that, hey, perhaps they shouldn’t be engaged in heated brinksmanship that could lead to World War 3? When Iran agreed to regulate its nuclear program with international help, Homeland’s story arc got thrown into stark relief. Because in the world of Homeland, the only way to bring about peace is via a convoluted plan dreamed up by Saul Berenson (who, in a nod to Senator Lockhart, may indeed be high).
After hitting a brick wall in detoxing Brody (his detox scenes are brutal), they tackle it via Dar Adal’s suggestion of ibogaine — which causes violent hallucinations, and prompts Brody to graphically attempt suicide (the ‘What the shit?’ moment) — and throwing him from a boat at night to drown (!?). Saul then moves on to Plan C, and after some nice juxtaposition between Brody and Carrie in ‘hospital’ beds, he reveals the details to Carrie. Y’know, and by association, us.
It involves putting a CIA asset (Javadi) at the head of the Iranian Republican Guard intelligence… by assassinating the existing guy via everyone’s favourite ex-Marine sergeant, suspected terrorist and most wanted man in the world, Nicholas Brody. All Saul needs Carrie to do is convince Brody to get on board (and there’s the ‘rolling eyes’ bit), which she does by (kinda cold-bloodedly) showing Brody what his actions have resulted in: the world’s most annoying teen, Dana Brody, working as a motel cleaner. Having been thus prompted, our redheaded ‘hero’ kicks the junk, goes for a jog, seemingly gets fit for action in 16 days, and proceeds to kick more arse with a training montage straight out of Karate Kid.
After training with a bunch of specially-bearded special ops, Brody is back and focused and given the prototypical ‘one last mission’ goal. As Homeland has picked up the pace across its third season, its presumed endpoint has been doled out piecemeal and handled with enough cloak-and-dagger that it’d put the Russian prison transfer system to shame. But here it is, Saul’s plan, laid out for all to see… Does anyone else think it’s patently stupid?
Saul’s assertion that Brody could get “in and out of tight spots” sees Brody himself question his extraction when he’s told there would be a team waiting for him in a town outside of Tehran. At this point, you could forgive Brody for siding with Senator Lockhart’s position on CIA ops and going, ‘Ah. Guys. Fuck this shit. Can’t we just drone strike this mofo into oblivion, blame it on a gas leak, and then our guy’s in power anyway?’ And even then, assuming Javadi gets promoted to the head of the Republican Guard’s intelligence operations, what’s to stop him from not taking Saul’s calls, so to speak? Who’s going to bust him? The head of the Republican Guard’s intellige… oh. See? There’s the problem in finishing off this season. With Iran and the US doing okay (for now), does the show backsplain the CIA’s involvement and take credit for it? Or, more likely, have we just continued on this divergent universe path, a la last season’s Langley blast? It will be hugely interesting to see what the writers decide to do.
Either way, it’s obvious that Saul doesn’t want Brody to come back, and with this plan, he kills a couple of prospective birds with one redheaded junkie stone. Wouldn’t killing Brody off be the best option at this point for Homeland, anyway? Well, maybe not for the baby Carrie is, er, carrying, but for the show to progress, Brody needs to stop being a focal point for people better off without him. Like, Dana, who makes it clear she never wants to see Brody again (“Did you ever, for once, think about whether I wanted to see you?” she asks, in that annoying pitch of hers). And maybe Carrie wouldn’t have taken up smoking all of a sudden, either, while pregnant with a Brody baby. And maybe her decisions regarding the Brody baby would be easier to make without a redheaded spectre hovering over everything.
Unfortunately, with Brody’s steely-eyed promise to Carrie that he’d make it back for Dana and *maybe* herself (definitely not Chris ‘Forgotten Child’ Brody or, y’know, his wife), it gives the writers every opportunity to do what they want with Brody.
Homeland‘s decision to have its two stars together for less than one full episode so far this season has been unquestionably bold, and with Carrie confronting Saul for being less than forthcoming with info (while herself not letting old meat in on the fact that she’s up the duff) and Brody taking off to Iran, the writers have given themselves a fascinating setup. Now, it all depends on how they ‘play’ (to use spy vernacular) everybody out of this season.
‘Homeland: What’s Their Mental State Like?’ big board
Carrie: Deciding on whether or not to keep pounding all these ciggies.
Saul: Believing himself to be some sort of spy genius.
Dana: Too busy cleaning and keeping notebooks and pens by her bed to think about anything.
Dar Adal: Cheerfully telling everybody to take powerful hallucinogens.
Senator Lockhart: Wondering if it was a bad idea to use Israeli intelligence agents to spy on the head of the CIA? Also thinking about apologising, but might not ‘cos everyone does it, right?
Brody: Could realllllly use some heroin right now.
Special Ops team: Reflecting on just how sweet their beards are.
Catch-up on the latest episode of Homeland on Ten Play.
Jaymz is a New York-based writer (originally from Melbourne, and the former Editor of triple j magazine), super-yacht enthusiast, hi-tech jewel thief and Bengal tiger trainer. He enjoys wearing monocles, finely spiced rum, constructing pillow forts, and zip-lining from Hong Kong skyscrapers. You can find him on twitter via @jaymzclements
Follow the rest of his Homeland recaps here.