Homeland S3E9 Review, “One Last Time”


Homeland, nearing the homestretch of the thus far abominable season 3, is trying so hard to get the creative wheels turning.  Brody and Carrie reunited, Dana with an actual scene to act in, a goddamn training montage!  In past seasons, this ninth episode of season 3 would have been a perfectly acceptable transition episode, leading from the season’s second act into the climactic third.  And as a stand alone installment, it’s not terrible either.

But when we’ve been presented with the below-average to downright bad television that we’ve seen this year, a transitional episode represents something else entirely.  Given this episode in that context, if I’ve only seen bad and then get a transition, how can I expect anything other than more bad?

First, Brody has returned from his Venezuelan dream getaway and has been weened off a full blown heroin habit quicker than Jack Bauer (also in a season 3!  Almost an impossible coincidence!  Where the hell is Chase, somebody get Jack an axe!).

3x01_JackSyringeNo one kicks heroin like Jack Bauer.

The scenes showing Brody hallucinating as a result of the anti-withdrawal drugs he’s given are among the best this season has offered, both dramatic and visually powerful.  On the other hand, the scenes featuring Brody and Carrie are completely flat with none of the tension from previous seasons.  Without a major defibrillator, that relationship has been doomed by stripping both characters of all of their emotional potency.  It’s what happens when your two main characters are repeatedly devastated week after week and are never allowed to show any strength.  I’m sure this is why Carrie’s pregnancy was dropped in a few weeks ago, to give these scenes a little extra push, but I just don’t think it was all that effective.  One thing is certain: if Showtime saddles Carrie with a kid the same way they chained up Dexter, I’m going off the Homeland grid.  Harrison!!!

Saul’s constantly changing master plan is actually fairly interesting.  If it has been the main focus of the season from the get go, Brody would already be waist deep in Persian blood by now.  The plan is as follows:

  1. Trap a high-level Iranian intelligence official into working for the CIA, because if he does not cooperate The US will inform the Iranian government that he has been skimming cash into a personal account to the tune of $50 million
  2. Play him back into Iran in order to gain access to tightly held secrets, such as military readiness and nuclear proliferation
  3. Nurse Brody back into health in order to release him to the Iranians, depending on his status as the Langley bomber to give him access to government officials
  4. Have Brody assassinate the head of Iranian intelligence, then extract him from the country
  5. Saul’s high-level official double agent would then be promoted by default to a top-3 spot in the government, allowing him to not only have access to information, but also to make policy favoring the US

Any number of problems could happen causing the above scenario to collapse into a ball of fire, but that is the beauty of the show.  Three or four middle season episodes showing this play out on the ground in Iran likely would have been must-watch TV, and even if executed poorly would have had to be better than five episodes of the Dana Brody hour, with some Carrie in the psyche ward thrown in.  The further development that Saul knows that the Senator has been spying on him, using Mira’s boytoy adds an additional layer, as now Saul has Lockhart by the balls and can twist as he sees fit.

All told, it’s just enough to keep me watching ep to ep until the end of the season, without the series falling into DVR Demon status.  I’m actually really looking forward to next week, because Brody put into play in rural Iran just outside of Tehran should make for compelling TV.  Unfortunately I have less faith that we will get a satisfying conclusion to the season, much less a cliffhanger that make sense and makes me lust for season 4.