Funny thing about swords, General: they have two edges. Brody may have once been a “sword for Allah,” but he can also be a weapon against it. We learn this in the final minutes of Big Man in Tehran, the penultimate episode of the season — and even though we know the play, it still comes as a shock.
From one second to the next now, we never have any idea what Brody’s going to do. I don’t know how I missed this in Season 1, but clearly the attraction between Carrie and Brody rests on their shared tendency to go rogue at any time. They have taken the Polonius Principle right to its logical end: they are true only to themselves. Everybody else — family friends, colleagues, country — can go to hell.
How fortunate that these two are in Iran together. How lucky Brody is that Carrie remains, once again and always, his handler: informing Saul, taking meetings with Javadi, and being the world’s worst backseat driver with her very practical Mossad contacts. There’s a lot to watch, and she wants a front-row seat to all of it.
At first Brody follows the plan as agreed, gamely going along with last-minute schedule and location changes. Then he lays eyes on the man the CIA has tasked him to kill (General Akbari, head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard). That man nods at Brody, then peels out: leaving him and his driver alone on a Tehran street.
He’s not alone for long:
I’m sorry, Nassrin. There is no one like him. – Brody
The General has led Brody to the home of Abu Nazir’s widow, and the bond between the two is obvious. Sitting together in her quiet home, they have the kind of discussion only family can have, on loss, responsibility, and sadness. It’s a lovely scene, and it helps make Brody’s declaration of intent to seek asylum in Iran — in front of a crowd in the street, and all their cellphones — more believable.
His performance works as intended: to endear Brody to people in his new home, and to make people back in the States completely lose their shit.
This is a guy who changes his mind. We can’t trust Brody. We never could. We need to end this. – Lockhart
Saul goes ahead and says it for us. “You mean ‘end Brody’.” Lockhart doesn’t disagree, and while Saul isn’t enthusiastic about burning his most valuable resource, he goes along with it. “It’s time you got on a plane and came back,” he tells his other asset on the ground, Carrie. She disagrees.
Come with me now.
I have nowhere to go, Carrie.
I have contacts.
I’ve been through that already. I won’t do that again. I won’t do it to you. – Carrie and Brody
It’s possible that Brody has already seen what Carrie is finally noticing herself: she’s in her second trimester, and it’s hard to hide that. I’m not sure how obvious her condition is in Iran, where the local dress for women is extremely modest — but it might be a factor. Those she interacts with here, from Brody to the Mossad guys to Fara’s uncle, seem to treat her more gently than I’d expected.
If Saul got the treat-her-gently memo too, he didn’t read it:
YOU REALLY FUCKED UP THIS TIME. Get yourself on a plane out of there. Tell me you understand. – Saul
Because this is Carrie Mathison — who took a bullet instead of an order, whose personal motto might as well be “Never Acknowledge, Never Apologize” — she does not tell Saul she understands. What she does is hang up on her boss. That’s a thing I would never do to mine, and I only write freaking error messages!
Brody, aware that the United States government just tried to kill him, goes straight to the General for a man-to-man chat. It’s amazing he’s able to do this, but Akbari receives him warmly and hears his confession with incredible sympathy. Brody returns the favor by braining his host with an ashtray, then suffocating him on the floor of his office with a pillow. In light of recent events, this does seem like the Brodiest thing to do.
Now that it’s all in the rearview, what do we think? Can Carrie really use her “contacts” to get Brody out of Iran? Will the United States still want either one of them? And is all of this still working for you?
Saul is having an absolutely terrible month. First his plan goes sideways at the border, then his two key assets go rogue — and he gets the bad-news updates from his hawkish would-be successor, Senator Lockhart. “Brody knows we just tried to kill him. He’s gonna burn the whole fucking thing down!” I’d feel like throwing up too, Saul.
Alan Bernard, now in indefinite captivity, provides the link to Mossad. This is an intriguing reason for keeping your wife’s lover in a cell. It makes me wonder whether the same strategy would work for getting, say, rides on Air Force One, or In-N-Out Burgers.
The Mossad guys are every bit as professional as Carrie is not. They’re appropriately skeptical about the plan to kill the General, and their questions — when? where? — deserve answers. They’re also good at knowing when to call the whole thing off, not that anybody listens. “This is not a good idea. The best thing for us to do would be back away.” Good luck with that, Mossad Guy!
That said: Carrie’s work with Fara’s uncle is impressive. She knows just how to soften an edgy conversation — giving Massoud a photo of his faraway niece, assuring him “her heart is here still, in Tehran.” It works: he’s her ally in minutes. Amazing.
I’m not to sure what to think of Javadi, and that’s a good thing. He’s good at working both sides, challenging Brody in his interrogation (“You think, what? We like traitors here?”), then praising him to the General (“He’s an important guest. The American who said ‘no more’.”). He’s also good at making things clear, even for pushy Carrie: “What you’re here for? Getting Brody out? Strictly optional.” I’m never really sure whether Javadi is working with Saul or against him. In espionage fiction, in suspense in general, this is what you want.
My friends, I think it’s time to say what we’re all thinking: We’re never going to see Mike the Marine again. Or Chris Brody, for that matter. Chances are good that Dana, and possibly her mother, will find us again, but I’m guessing that’s about it. Mike the Marine, Chris Brody: may flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.