Spoiler Alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 10 of Showtime's "Homeland," titled "Good Night."
According to showrunner Alex Gansa, "Good Night" was meant to serve as a transition to the true action that will appear in the last two episodes of "Homeland." But the episode was already one of the series' most action-driven scripts yet. We've moved on from safe houses and corporate chatter at Langley to seeing the play unfold, live, on the ground in the Middle East. The operation to bring Brody to the Iran-Iraq border so that he can gun down the head of the revolutionary guard, with the help of turned Iranian intelligence thug Javadi, looked like what "Zero Dark Thirty" might have been, if Kathryn Bigelow had a smaller budget and worse night-vision goggles. But more importantly, the operation is what jolts Brody back into action. Brody's innate instinct for survival is incredible, and watching him tap into that reserve is gratifying. For the first time this season, Brody is really, truly back.
In one scene in particular, where he applied a tourniquet to the severed leg of his driving companion after their car hit a landmine, Brody exhibited qualities of solidarity and determination on a level we haven't really witnessed from him before -- qualities, maybe, that only the white-knuckle terror of an intelligence operation gone wrong can procure. "I shit myself every time they send me back here," Brody's driving buddy tells him at one point. Taking in the sweep of this episode, from the confrontation with the Kurdish border police to the shoot-out with the Iraqi military, it's not hard to see why.
The episode begins with Peter Quinn confronting Carrie over her pregnancy, much to her chagrin. As he whispers to her, "Carrie, you're 15 weeks pregnant," you can almost hear Carrie mouthing to herself, "No shit, Sherlock." But are we to believe Carrie when she tells Quinn that the baby is not Brody's? After all, just two weeks ago she told her OB-GYN that "what I am doing" -- meaning, her work at the CIA -- "has to do with the baby's father." Either Carrie is truly confused about the identity of the baby's father, or she is lying to Peter Quinn to stay in the game.
And why is Carrie still so emotionally invested? Last week she appeared surprisingly detached from Brody, able to parlay her excitement at seeing him again for the first time since the Langley bombing into something more cold-blooded, careerist and strategic as she convinced him to take on Saul's crazy assassination assignment. But last night, that detachment had disappeared and we were back where we started: the prickliness, the eyes darting with anger and obsession and concern all at once, unable to stop moving even as they remained confined within the tunnel of their Brody vision. Others will disagree (it's the internet; that's what we do here) but to us, the switch back and forth from the instrumentalism of last week to the emotional identification of last night seemed a little forced. Or maybe it's just that last week she'd been drugged out after the shoulder operation. Who knows.
But what was most revealing about last night's episode was the complex interplay between the CIA, the military and the White House as the operation got under way. The contrast between the situation room, with everyone on their feet and pacing, headsets on, before the satellite feed as the operation goes haywire, and the White House chief of staff's office, Dara Adal, tea cup in hand, plopped onto a plush, floral print settee and offering waspish plums of battle wisdom ("Now is the time to remain patient") over the peak of his black turtle neck like some Northern Virginia reincarnation of Downton Abbey's Dowager Countess, provided a telling insight into the dynamics of power at the highest level. And how quickly that power can shift: One moment we are placed into the middle of an intelligence operation, the next we are watching a military rescue mission. And all the while, the shady, thuggish figure of Senator Lockhart circles in the background, offering words of false sympathy to Saul as the operation comes unstuck, his head bobbing about like a malevolent Thunderbird. "You must be one hell of a salesman to get Brody to do this," Lockhart tells Carrie at one point. "Here at the agency, we call that recruiting," she replies. Ouch.
Saul, for his part, watches the theater unfold by chewing a lucky pack of gum and squeezing his eyes really hard as his baby operation goes sideways. But his morality remains intact even as White House Chief of Staff Higgins interferes (via a rather hilarious video conference) with a call to cover their tracks and avoid a diplomatic incident by killing off Brody and his injured military friend. "I will NOT order a strike against my own men. Hang it up," Saul says, head down, knowing this means his tenure at the CIA is also kaput. But Saul's loyalty wins out in the end, of course: Brody does make it over the border, and Saul is still in the game.
You never got the sense that the show's creators were going to let the crossing into Iran drag out much beyond this episode, and so it proved, with Brody and his likeable chum stumbling into the unaffectionate arms of an Iranian military unit and making it over the border almost by accident. The twist at the end of the episode, with Brody and his mate huddled in their cell before the ominously slight figure of Javadi appears, pale blue suit alive with the cheap sheen of bad polyester and evil intentions, tells Brody to get ready for his big trip to Tehran, then turns to Brody's companion and blows his brains out, set things up nicely (if nice is the right word to use for such a callous display of murderousness) for next week.
The real question is: How will the dangerous dance between Brody and Javadi play out? At any point in the show where he has not been confined in a CIA safehouse, Javadi has shown himself to be a genuinely psychotic liability, unpredictable in everything other than his casual readiness to kill. He is deceptively calm and peaceful even when exhibiting extreme viciousness. As an asset, he is exceptionally tough to control. Once released into the comparative freedom of mainstream Iran and able to play his role as an asylum seeker unfettered, will Brody prove the same?
Questions we have that were answered:
- Can Brody pull of the mission to get to the Iran-Iraq border? Yes, but not without some complications.
- Is a potential Peter Quinn and Carrie romance in the works? Sadly, judging from their terse "fuck you" conversation about her baby, we're guessing it's a long shot.
- Will Senator Lockhart still try to be a raging dick to Saul and his operation? Despite some concessions last night, the general assessment is yes.
Questions we still have:
- Is Brody still on ibogaine?
- Who is the father of Carrie's baby, really?
- Is that military dude Brody makes small talk with Gerard Butler's younger brother?
- What play does Carrie have to extract Brody out of Iran? And who else thinks it's totally unbelievable that Fara, after witnessing Javadi kill his own family, would agree to convince her uncle in Tehran to organize a safe house for Brody?
- In the previews for the next episode, Brody has hair. How much time has transpired since his arrival?
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.
What did you think of "Homeland" season 3, episode 10? Share your thoughts and predictions below.