written by Alexander Cary & Charlotte Stoudt | directed by Keith Gordon
One of the things that most appealed about Homeland when it started, and has stayed largely true ever since, is that it always eschewed the temptation to become a big action thriller. It plays in the same sandpit as predecessors like 24 and The Unit, but rarely indulges high-octane action dramatics—usually saving explosive moments for finales. So, three episodes before the finale, it was fun to see Homeland indulge itself with a whole hour dedicated to Brody's (Damien Lewis) attempt to get from Iraq to Iran and claim asylum—which was all part of the CIA plan, masterminded by Saul (Mandy Patinkin), to have him infiltrate the Iranian government and assassinate a bigwig.
The problem with reviewing episodes like this is they're fairly rudimentary things in terms of plot, with less to really chew on. But it was still a really entertaining hour that made me swallow the faint ludicrousness of Saul's shaky plan, which could collapse like a house of cards at any given moment. It was also nice to see Brody doing what he's spent his career doing, from before the time we first met him as a PoW back in the pilot. Lewis hasn't had many opportunities to flex his action-man muscles, and while Brody was hardy in Rambo-mode here it was nevertheless cool to see him in a different context. And the remaining two episodes promise we'll see a lot more, as he becomes the wolf in sheep's clothing on foreign soil.
The action itself was well done, although I must admit a few things got a bit confusing because of the constant darkness in the Iraq desert. But for the most part it was comprehensible what was going on, and the various problems the team encountered were tense and exciting—although not overly so, as you never really doubted Brody would make it across the border with two hours left in the season. It also managed to make Saul and Carrie's (Claire Danes) roles fairly engaging, even if they were basically standing around chewing gum and watching a live video-feed. The return of Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) was also appreciated, as he finally started to act like a reasonable human being and even sympathised with Saul after some bad luck with an IED almost scuppered the whole mission.
Overall, "Good Night" was a strong episode that didn't quite buzz emotionally for me, but I'm definitely hooked to see how Brody's going to be received in Tehran—and pairing him up with the "turned" Javadi (Shaun Toob), who will benefit politically from his assassination being a success, promises some uncertainty. A part of me still thinks Javadi's isn't quite ready to roll over and become Saul's lapdog, and some kind of major hiccup is going to happen as a result of him. Or maybe I'm just paranoid and Javadi's safely in the CIA's pocket, as he would simply lose too much if he suddenly grew a conscience about what's befallen his government.
Two more hours to go, and while it's been a season with obvious problems and issues, I'm behind this late-season development that's putting the focus on Brody overseas... atoning for his past indiscretions against the US government.