‘Homeland’: Is Brody Strictly Optional?

Published 1 year ago by

Claire Danes in Homeland Season 3 Episode 11 Homeland: Is Brody Strictly Optional?

[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 11. There will be SPOILERS.]


It’s hard not to look at ‘Big Man in Tehran’ and think that Homeland has managed to produce the best episode of an uneven season. The episode finds a way of reminding the audience what the series is normally so good at, and that is creating some sense of energy between its two leads, regardless if they’re sitting across the table from one another, or if Brody’s in packed square in Tehran listening to Carrie’s voice over a cell phone.

That sort of dynamic has been the basis of the entire series, and when it works like it does here, it’s easy to see why Brody is still on the show: the allure of seeing him and Carrie react to one another on a level that exists well outside the boundaries of the mission at hand is potentially far more attractive than anything else on the Homeland. It’s certainly more appealing than consistently putting Carrie’s mental status under the microscope, or listening while Saul reprimands her for whatever recent on-the-fly decision was made that could undermine the entire mission – only to later sign off on sending her into Tehran as point on what will likely be his most important (and probably last as acting director of the CIA) operation in over three decades.

Unlike the inconsistent gains the season has seen from playing various versions of the aforementioned scenarios over and over again, ‘Big Man in Tehran’ reaps considerable rewards from putting another familiar situation at the forefront of the story. The episode primarily benefits from being able to remind the audience of Homeland‘s greatest hits without necessarily devolving into a clip show. All the elements are here: Brody’s unpredictability/resourcefulness (or, if you’d rather, his malleability when it comes to suggestion and command); Carrie’s dogged belief in how right she is; and the sense that there’s actually something at stake between the two of them that’s larger than whether or not they will ever see one another again – filling their desire to do so in the midst of such chaotic circumstances with the kind of pathos that show ran on for two full seasons.

Damian Lewis in Homeland Season 3 Episode 11  Homeland: Is Brody Strictly Optional?

In the end, though, despite the welcome familiarity and superb execution of some of the episode’s circumstances, it’s also hard not to weigh the plusses of ‘Big Man in Tehran’ against the minuses of season 3, and think it would be detrimental to the series if Nicholas Brody were to continue to exist past next week’s season finale. This is the second time Homeland has left him hovering over the dead body of a high-ranking political official; only this time the death of General Akbari isn’t going to be explained away with some pre-existing condition and faulty pacemaker (unless Akbari’s head was prone to spontaneously caving in).

Like all the things the episode did well, this too is very familiar. While the episode may have felt like a return to form, it also points to just how exhausted Brody’s storyline has become. His unpredictably in the episode may have ignited a desire to recall the highs of Homeland‘s past, but at the same time, it demonstrated just how few options this particular narrative has left.

Still, no matter how it ends, at least the episode found a way to connect its protagonists in an emotionally satisfying way before taking its fateful plunge into the season finale. That’s a great way to invite interest in any ending that awaits the audience.


Homeland will conclude season 3 next Sunday with ‘The Star’ @9pm on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

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  2. Yup. It is why this season has been utterly maddening in a sense. Intriguing plot points wrapped around bludgeoned delivery and attention span deficit broadstrokes. Stagnant characterisation resolution at odds with the initial potential. Yet, when it gets it right, it gets it right spectacularly.

    Reverence will be kind to this season but only as a comparative to S2. It all hinges on the finale. Whilst part of me actually wanted to see Carrie being proved wrong (and that Brody had turned… again), part of me is also waiting to test the aforementioned. There is simply no way, and no time, for Brody to get out of this situation alive. How could there be? A far more interesting angle would’ve been a complete fallout of an overreaching plan in which all the variables involved did not somehow find a way to a satisfactory conclusion. This will be exemplified even more if Brody does somehow get out of there. If anything, this is the redemption he has been seeking for three seasons now.

    What I then would like is for Brody to die, but as a theory of a good man who found such redemption. It would close the book on the driving force of three seasons of both his character and the reaction from his family. It would also open the show to all manner of directions they could therefore go. Of course, for many of the audience, the dynamic between Carrie and Brody is what drew them in. That alone suggests the one thing I do not want and the one thing that would remove all manner of threat from this show. Brody somehow staying alive.

  3. This won’t be a popular opinion but I would have liked to see a bit of Brody’s family in this episode…
    Maybe not Dana but Jessica and Chris. Even though we saw the CIA’s reaction to Brody’s interviews in Iran it would have been interesting to see their reactions from seeing him alive and what he’s been doing.
    That’s just a minor nit-pick though because overall this was a strong episode IMO and I’m genuinely excited for the finale.
    Will Brody survive?
    He shouldn’t. We’ve covered this for a while now and it’s now a clichè with Showtime and their policy about killing characters but the balance of this shows existence is at stake.
    If Brody lives past this next episode it will be time to take the option of killing him off the table. Why even bother discussing it anymore because it just won’t happen.

  4. Brody should have killed Akbari the same way he killed the bomb-maker, rear naked choke — but I guess he didn’t want to risk Akbari making a sound.

    I don’t know why he had to confess about Javadi, because if it went sideways and Akbari survived, he was toast. And if I was Akbari, as soon as Brody admitted he was part of it, I think I would have called my guards in just in case (as you can see how paranoid they were to begin with).

    The whole “6 days later” scenario doesn’t make sense. Since Brody is “free” to roam around Iran now and the CIA can contact him, why not make another plan to get him in a meet with Akbari? Iran trusts him now since he doesn’t need escorts and this way the play is still on… ack.

    And where will they go next season if they kill Brody in the finale?

  5. I agree with bignerd. It was rushed and as usual the writers painted themselves in a corner. I thought even with the re-intro of Brody that things were getting interesting with the Seal Team six insert and Javadi. Then they let Carrie just fly into Iran. Iranian intelligence isn’t that stupid…regardless of the interference Javadi could run for her. That’s where this episode lost me. I figured Brody would off the guy somehow but the fact that he now expects to escape? I guess I’ll stick around to see how they write themselves out of this. Saul is still one of the best characters around.

    • Well, US intelligence just let Abu Nazir and Javadi gallavant around in the US, so in the logic of the show, Carrie strolling into Iran isn’t that far fetched. lol

  6. WOW- This was indeed the best episode of the season. Maybe the series.
    And I’ve said it before-Brody has always been the victim, regardless of what he has done. Now, having said that, if the writers kill his character off, I will stop watching this show. The only reason it has been so good is the very realistic relationship between Carrie and Brody. I can not see where the story could possibly go on, at least for me. And if they do this, I will cancel my subscription to Showtime as well. This show is the only reason I subscribe, anyway.

  7. Homeland is done without Brody and Showtime knows that. They told their writers Dexter gonna live and i’m sure they do the same with Brody now.

  8. They went half a season without Brody, and were going to kill him in Season 1 if the suits at Showtime hadn’t stepped in. So Brody is far from essential. And his ability to be of any use to anybody is running out of steam. If he dies, this is where the show needs to go.

    And I never liked the Carrie/Brody relationship. I thought it was absurd.

    • I agree. I love the show but there isn’t anything real about Brody and Carrie’s relationship.

  9. Season Finale already got leaked. Go and grab it. No spoiler, but it’s a stunner.

  10. So who was the real bomber? And the mole? And how did Brody’s family and the public (within Homeland) process and respond to his death? And Saul and his wife just sort of forgot about the affair and all is just peachy there? And who won the election, or has that not happened yet? And the new President is a Walden clone in the bloodlust department? And he’s keeping Lockhart in, even though he’s his predecessor’s pick? I’m sorry, what storylines were tied up in the finale? Oh, right, Brody is dead.