[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]
Last week’s Homeland ended with what looked like Saul preparing to pull a drug-addled Brody from the unfinished tenement in Caracas that had been both his prison, and a convenient spot for the narrative to leave the character until it needed him again.
When we last saw Brody, he was on the verge of delivering himself from the pain of his continued existence through some heavy drug use. By the time he’s delivered to Virginia, Brody’s on the verge of collapse, and not at all prepared for what Saul has planned for him. That plan, of course, involves helping Javadi ascend the ranks of power by assassinating the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. But before any of that can happen, Brody has to undergo a rapid detox program with the help of a narrative fix-all that includes administering him a drug capable of accelerating the recovery process, while also allowing the episode a chance to throw in some convenient hallucinations – “violent, mind-bending hallucinations,” according to one source in Saul’s military entourage – for the sake of reminding the audience just who Nicholas Brody is, who he’s killed and why.
For his part, Saul tries selling the mission as a chance for Brody to redeem himself. While that works to a certain extent, Brody is further incentivized by the arrival of Carrie, who has now made it her mission to help him in any way she can.
The intent of ‘One Last Time’ seems to be the chance to see Brody in a new light, and to justify all the crazy things that Saul and Carrie have done this season by demonstrating what is at stake in terms of future U.S.-Iranian relations, as well as the future of the show’s primary characters. In essence, it is the second turning point of season – the first being when ‘Game On‘ revealed Carrie’s institutionalization was all an elaborate ruse to trick Majid Javadi into the United States – and the setup for what will likely be the final arc of season 3. To its credit, the episode manages to cram a lot of information into a relatively tight space (the episode runs almost the entire 60 minutes), but a great deal of that time is spent watching characters explain things to one another that the audience already knows.
On one hand, seeing Damian Lewis’ response as Carrie catches him up on all the Brody family goings-on was surely part of the objective, and, to a certain extent, his anguished expression and ill-advised visit to see Dana were likely intended to be positive outcomes of all the expository dialogue. After watching Brody approach his daughter, however, it’s hard to say whether the scene between the two yielded anything beyond the hope that the episode’s title, ‘One Last Time,’ was meant to cover such exchanges, in addition to the heavy suggestion that this very well may be the last time Carrie sees the father of her child alive.
But the title also refers to the likely idea that this will be the last time Saul gets to pull off such a high-risk, high-reward operation before Sen. Lockhart is confirmed as the new head of the CIA. Saul plays his trump card against Lockhart, but rather than use it to destroy his political adversary, humiliate his wife, or further damage the credibility of the Central Intelligence Agency, he negotiates a mutually beneficial agreement that leave him looking like a selfless hero.
That leaves the audience to wonder: Is this also the last time someone will opt to take such an approach?
Homeland continues next Sunday with ‘Good Night’ @9pm on Showtime.