What’s everybody talking about this week, in real Washington and fake Washington? Iran, of course! It’s the world’s hottest club! It’s the next big thing! It’s where Brody’s headed, on that CIA helicopter taking off in the middle of the night!
Nicholas Brody is back: at first drug-addicted, traumatized, twitchy and too weak to run, he’s nonetheless whipped into shape by the end of the hour, ready to take on Saul’s ballsy asylum-in-Iran play for the CIA.
This is a hell of a move, not just for Saul Berenson but for Homeland. The Iran-play setup comes 50 years to the day after Lee Harvey Oswald (another famous sniper-gone-bad, who also sought asylum in an enemy state) was killed while in custody for shooting Kennedy.
It also arrives on the heels of last weekend’s game-changing provisional accord between Iran and the West. Sunday night gave us one of those moments, rare in any kind of art, in which a character voices a dream the real world may be ready to deliver:
Two nations who haven’t had anything to say to each other for 30 years can sit down and talk. … That’s the play, Carrie. Tell me it isn’t worth your time. – Saul
The words “may be” are important. In real life and on Homeland, the stakes are as high as the potential for disaster. Here in Doggie-Door D.C., Saul is acting on a lot of assumptions: that Javadi is the man and the CIA asset he thinks he is. That Brody will receive the kind of welcome in Tehran that Saul expects. That Brody’s ready, period.
We see plenty that indicates he’s not. In the go-big-or-go-home scenes of Brody’s recovery, Damian Lewis turns in the kind of Emmy-bait performance that has always made Nick Brody so compelling. Deep in drug withdrawal, Brody dry-heaves on the floor of his cell so convincingly I start sweating on my couch. Later, pupils dilated to the size of dinner plates, Brody whisper-sings “The Halls of Montezuma” to the ghost of his dead colleague Walker. Scary stuff.
By the time Saul visits him, Brody has been broken once again. Saul hears him say he’s not the 12-12 bomber, but reminds him that this doesn’t matter:
Your transgressions don’t begin or end there. And I’m not about to engage in a back and forth where you somehow end up the victim. – Saul
I had to think about that one. What does Saul know about Brody, really? He knows about Walker, certainly. But what about the tailor? VP Walden? What convinces Saul that the weight of Brody’s guilt is equal to “this one last thing” he’s telling him to do? A thing so dangerous even Carrie calls it “a suicide mission at best”?
It might be hubris, because this is the play: 1) Send Brody to Tehran. 2) Once in Tehran, Brody will accept responsibility for the Langley bombing and ask for asylum. 3) Granted asylum, hailed as a hero, Brody will then have access to Javadi’s boss, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. 3) Brody will kill him, leaving Javadi in control and ready to negotiate with the West.
Really, that’s the plan: more wildly optimistic and less practical than any idea either of my kids ever aired in public. (“First thing is, I wake up in the morning and I’m a princess.”) Whole worlds of hope and faith revolve inside that plan, which makes me wonder what country Saul was thinking of when he constructed it. The Middle East is a lot richer in oil than hope and faith, is all I’m saying.
They’re down for it, though. Carrie enlists the Boo-Rah Support Squad to get Brody back to top physical and mental shape – which takes some doing, given the shape he’s in when they start.
Look at me, Carrie. You wouldn’t send me out for a pack of cigarettes right now. – Brody
But the team has a secret weapon: Dana. Carrie makes sure Brody both sees his daughter and knows what she’s been though – suicide attempt and all – before she baits the line: “Do what Saul’s asking, if not for your sake then for Dana’s,” she purrs. What kind of Dad would say no to that?
The kind of Dad who doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone, that’s what kind! Despite everything he knows, Brody insists on talking to his daughter again; despite everything she knows, Carrie agrees to drive him there. On the night he’s leaving for Tehran. Remind me to never invite this couple to dinner, Basketcases.
The visit goes about as well as you’d expect for an absent Dad who ruined his daughter’s life and then promptly fled the country. Kid is PISSED:
Did you ever, for one second, think about if I wanted to see YOU? … Promise me I will never have to see you again. Either of you. – Dana, to Brody and Carrie
Saul has his own problems: an injured and angry protégée, Lockhart creeping on that protégée, and a leak somewhere in the Caracas story. Max finds the source of the leak, thanks to an awesome little beeping device that finds the bomb bug in Saul’s home computer. Surveillance connects the bug to Alan Bernard, and further surveillance connects Bernard to Lockhart. Advantage Saul!
Or so you’d think. Saul doesn’t seem to want much from Lockhart, beyond a little squirming (“Alan Bernard is writing a profile on me for Le Monde,” he lies, just before folding like a pile of fresh laundry). He does want this:
Time. Postpone your confirmation hearing until the middle of next month. – Saul
Saul tells Lockhart that he doesn’t want to humiliate Mira or further damage the CIA. His real reason: he believes Iran will have opened to the West by then, and he wants the view he’ll have of Lockhart’s fall from his seat atop the CIA. If the Brody-in-Tehran play works out – big if! – I want to see that too.
One difference between Saul and me: I don’t always get what I want. I wanted to see Carrie tell Brody she’s pregnant with his child. I kept thinking she was about to, and in fact she keeps setting it up: “I have something to tell you,” she tells him, all serious. But she never does. Even in their long last look at each other before the chopper takes off, she never breathes a word.
Brody! … See you on the other side. – Carrie
Will she, though? See him again? I kind of doubt it.
Which brings us to this week’s Closing Thoughts:
I think Brody’s going to die in Tehran: The episode is called One Last Time. “The other side” is a term often applied to death, as any chicken could tell you. And we’ve seen what Javadi does to people; I’m pretty sure he’s going to wine-bottle our hero right out of the story.
The only thing the Brody-in-Tehran play has going for it is Brody himself. Saul’s play is a carbon copy of the one he executed for Abu Nazir, right down to taking out a hostile nation’s second in command. If Brody doesn’t die working the plan, he’ll end up a mullah under the Supreme Leader.
Damian Lewis’s performance in this episode is the best PSA ever. Kids, don’t do drugs!
I KNEW IT WASN’T A BOMB IN THE MOUSE. Knew it knew it knew it!! You can’t see me right now, Deb, but I’m out here on the West Coast doing the Superior Dance.
When did plain old “Alan Bernard” become the French-sounding “a-LAIN Bernard”? This is like that time back in the 90’s when Demi Moore started telling everyone to call her ‘duh-MEE.’ But in her case it fit!
Berenson v. Mathison is one well-written spat. “Brody slipping out of the country while you were unconscious for 14 hours? You really think I believe that?” “As if you actually care.” I want it never to end.
Carrie + Brody was also a well-written romance. I’m going to miss it:
Since when do you smoke?
I don’t. I’m not. (Blows smoke.) Never happened. – Brody and Carrie
I request a moratorium on military support characters in high-tension dramas who mention their families. “We just had our first kid,” the leader of the Boo-Rah Support Squad tells Brody, and in that moment I know exactly how dead he’s going to be by the end of this season.
Speaking of … has anyone seen Mike the Marine? You might want to check the median strips of major streets in the Washington D.C. area. Just a thought.