After last week’s episode, Dustin wrote a piece on how absurd Homeland’s third season has been, and no one can deny—it has been absurd (though perhaps no more so than real life; see Edward Snowden, and Russian sleeper agents uncovered in New Jersey, New York, Boston and Virginia). But let’s face it, the whole premise was a little incredible from the get-go, and what some people are really irritated by is that the show has pushed plausibility to its breaking point several times over. I don’t think any fan of the show would spend time arguing credibility; more likely we’d discuss the value of letting go some of the crazy stuff in favor of a pretty great ride that leaves us feeling breathless and wanting more—not knowing exactly what comes next. In Connecticut, there’s an amusement park with a wooden roller coaster called Boulder Dash; there is nothing smooth about the ride—it’s shaky and riders are violently jostled around corners, shaken until they feel like broken pieces of popcorn kernels; if someone doesn’t have strong neck muscles, he might need some sort of medical adjustment after the ride. Boulder Dash is imperfect, bumpy, crazy and seemingly impossible, and it’s also been voted Best Wood Coaster. Homeland is that totally effed up coaster ride you can’t wait to let your stomach settle after, so you can get in line to ride again.
Since the big “Game On” twist, Homeland has steadily gotten better, returning to its roots and keeping us precariously perched on seat’s edge. The past few episodes, haven’t been bogged down with family or baby drama, Brody has taken back his front and center position, and the tension has mounted accordingly. This penultimate episode, Big Man in Tehran, was a beautifully orchestrated hour, that started out at a steady pace, and increasingly elevated its heartbeat until the audience suffered skips and jumps right alongside Brody, Carrie and Saul. Once we handed over our tickets and stepped onto that ride, we were no longer in control; our thoughts and emotions went right where the writers intended. As for what will happen at next week’s season end, there can be no more true escapes for Brody; as he said himself, “Go where?” He’s done it and we’ve seen it all before. There’s nowhere else to go. For those of you who lament that the series can’t go on without him (or for that matter, Carrie) explain to me why a near complete reboot wouldn’t work well. There are plenty of great actors out there, and fantastic as Damian Lewis is, he isn’t irreplaceable. Think Idris Elba, or someone like William Fichtner (who hasn’t been steady on our televisions in far too long). Homeland could never sustain these characters indefinitely, nor would we want to watch them rerunning the near-same game over and over. There is nothing left for us all but change, and I’m looking forward to seeing some kind of Etch-a-Sketch remix.
Saul Plans, Maneuvers, and Oversees; Carrie Does What She Wants: The hour’s opening found Saul visiting Bernard—held in a solitary cell— who is accused of spying and in no position to argue when Saul demands his help getting two Israeli Mossad agents in on the assassination plot. Saul matter-of-factly explains he wouldn’t even be talking to “the greaseball who fucked my wife” if he didn’t expect Bernard’s cooperation; Saul’s disgust is not wasted. While Brody is being grilled for three days by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Saul’s manipulation helps Carrie, who has once again planted herself in the middle of the action. As he watches (along with Quinn, Adal and Lockhart) most every move play out via satellite, Saul advises Carrie. Well, he advises as much as one can advise Carrie, who still takes it upon herself to not follow orders at her own discretion. As off the charts crazy as she has become, it’s nearly impossible to believe that even Saul would let Carrie continue in her role. At the same time, she’s been so completely enmeshed in every aspect of Brody’s CIA connection, no one else knows the guy as well as she does. Carrie points out to Saul, she’s been right about Brody all along, and who can argue with that? As disconnected as Carrie has become in some ways, her sixth sense kicked in at the exact right moments, and may have changed the course of Brody’s actions yet again. Saul led the meetings, gave his orders, and kept Carrie aware of up to the minute goings-on, but still, he was impotent. Thousands of miles away, the two most unpredictable and dangerous people were really in charge, and as unpredictable events unfolded, they were the powder kegs waiting to blow.
Carrie Is Inexplicably Calm, Cool and Collected: When last Carrie donned her head scarf she suffered anxiety and panic attacks; this time—no worries. Other than that moment of finally realizing, Yes, Carrie, There Is a Baby, and a few deep breaths, our girl was utterly solid. She never once let the men she met with control conversations. Carrie set Fara’s uncle at ease, met with the Assassination Assistants (AAs), and didn’t completely freak out when two men waiting for her at the hotel escorted her to the basement. The real question is why no one else thought sending Carrie to Iran was an impossible risk—is it just me who thinks Carrie’s recent publicity wouldn’t have gone unnoticed in Iran? If someone had seen and recognized her, the connection to Brody could have been made—especially when she was in such close proximity to the meeting between Brody and head of the Revolutionary Guard, General Akbari (Houshang Touzie). Even though everything about the meetup changed, Carrie still believed Brody would know what to do when he heard the diversion explosion, and when everything went to shit, Carrie’s resolve held fast. While she’s intermittently naive about Brody, Carrie was able to read Saul’s cues, get a phone to her baby daddy, and save his life…for the time being, anyway.
Brody Is Still a Flip-Flopper: If Carrie has a mental disorder, Brody is disorder. One minute, solid as a rock, able to withstand being broken in every possible way, interrogated for three days straight and willingly sent on a suicide mission—Brody could snap at the next. When handed the cyanide injector, who among us didn’t have the fleeting thought he’d use it on himself? And if Carrie and the CIA struggled to adapt to every change, what must have been going through Brody’s mind as he stood so close to his intended target, then watched Akbari dash away? Cheered as some kind of warped hero by the Iranian public, how must that play in the mind of an American Marine? After heroin and retraining and killing and being near death so many times, Brody is the proverbial accident waiting to happen. Throughout the hour, there was no predicting what he’d do (save that final scene—as soon as I spied that heavy crystal bowl on Akbari’s desk, I knew it would spill blood). It made sense Brody would continually flip and flop; he’s stranded, with a crazy mission to kill the head of the Republican Guard, and only Carrie on his side . After his first attempt was foiled and Brody got a taste of being a hero, it made sense he’d dream Iran could be his new home. But when he spoke with Abu Nazir’s widow, Nassrin (Naz Deravian), Brody pointed out their missing promised peace. Disillusioned, abandoned and alone, a tortured Marine couldn’t decide if he wanted to live or die, but what’s clear is that Brody needs the choice to be his own. When Carrie warns him the CIA is about to take him out, Brody makes the only move he has—using his conveniently nearby ally (Nassrin) for momentary safety, and exposing Javadi to Akbari. Brody had one more change of heart though, when he listened to Akbari’s story of how his nightmarish journey had begun right where they stood. It made a strange kind of sense the words triggered Brody’s final snap. As he suffocated the life out of Akbari, Brody’s shaking and tears belied redemption—at this point, impossible to find.
Tension Ranking: 8 out of 10, code red. Hearts pounded; blood flowed.
Did Saul purposefully clue Carrie in on the Brody hit, knowing she’d get him to safety (or at least out of immediate danger)? Even though he was visibly upset and angry about what Carrie had done, there was a certain strange look on his face when he said to Lockhart, “You mean end Brody.” Saul has at times struggled with ordering people killed.
Really? Quinn gets ONE LINE?
Is it at all believable that Brody wouldn’t have gotten a pat-down before he got anywhere near Akbari?
Many commenters have mentioned, and anyone who has watched these three seasons must agree, Carrie has gone through an entirely nonsensical transformation. While her intuition still serves her, Carrie’s bipolar issues have inexplicably faded in and out through the past eleven episodes, with or without medication—and the added pregnancy hormonal swings. It’s more disturbing than any of the plot holes.
The last word on all our minds when Brody called Carrie and asked her to get him out has to be “How?” He’s in an impossible situation—which of course means somehow he will get out…but probably only long enough to say “Goodbye.” Brody’s redemption can only be found in the life of his unborn child.
Will Saul be gone at the end of Season 3, or come back a changed man? Mandy Patinkin recently shaved off his beard.