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Homeland “Big Man in Tehran” Review (3×11)

8 Dec

bigmanSergeant Nicholas Brody is a traitor; there’s no dispute about that. However, is he someone who will try to repent for his sins? Is he someone who will put aside his differences with his country and carry out the assassination of General Akbari? For most of the episode’s running time, we’re led to believe that no, this is not the case, and the episode cleverly manipulates our notions of who Brody is.

Is it one manipulation too many? You know what? I don’t believe so. When he tells his assembled Iranian fan club that he has nowhere to go, he’s being 100% truthful. There’s no way he could ever be accepted back into American society–if he was, it’d be an egregious plot twist that would serve absolutely no purpose, save for the satisfaction of the Showtime executives–no matter what he does. In fact, we can see that he prepares himself for any outcome; he’s much more rational here than, say, Carrie, who’s still off being an awful CIA agent and ruining the plans of pretty much everyone.

Getting back to Brody, his conversation with Nazir’s widow is very telling; in fact, right then and there is his repentance. Right then and there, he acknowledges how much he’s ruined his daughter’s life (yeah, I know you feel the deepest connection to Dana, but again, no mention of the other two members?). At that table is essentially Nazir’s family, two people brought together through a mutual love, but two people who are working together to move on in their lives. Brody’s smiles in response to the outpouring of the Iranians’ love are genuine, but he recognizes the necessity of paving a new path. He takes a second at the end of the episode to revel in “the place where it all started”, but also deems it appropriate to begin anew there.

So, it’s a nice handling of Brody’s character; my one gripe with the ending is how it validates Carrie to an extent. I like how Javadi takes her aside and criticizes her attachment to Brody, as well as how Brody acknowledges the insanity of her plan, and hopefully this kind of scolding continues to take place. There’s no way Saul and the rest can forgive her for intervening and acting like a righteous asshole, even considering Brody takes out Akbari at the end. Carrie’s biggest asset and her biggest flaw is the same: doing what she believes is the right thing. She believes that running away with Brody will benefit both of them, and she believes that Brody is still the same person, the same embodiment of her idealized version of the future.

Nevertheless, the episode itself continues last week’s excellent spy/suspense scenes, delivering some tense sequences that are thoroughly entertaining and compelling. Hopefully next week’s  finale is able to deliver a satisfying conclusion to a, for the most part, redeeming season.

GRADE: A-

OTHER THOUGHTS:

-I like the more grounded portrayal of Adal and Lockhart recently; they’re acting like reasonable government officials with a job to do, not like mustache-twirling villains who want to take Saul’s job.

-I wonder if we’ll see the Brody family next week. I don’t think we really need to.

-Will Brody die next week? I’m hoping he does; the writers have given him a pretty nice arc here, and even though he’s redeemed himself somewhat, he’s still in a position where’s he got nowhere to go. Any progress he makes now is in service of both the operation and his own psyche.

-Once again, Damian Lewis does some fantastic work.

Credit to Showtime and Homeland for all pictures. I own nothing.

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