In my review of last week’s Homeland, I expressed my doubt about whether all the uneven pacing and disconnected plot threads from this third season would be able to come together and provide a fulfilling payoff. While I’m still not sure if all the issues from throughout this season of Homeland will be able to be washed away by these last few episodes, if the final two episodes of the season match the quality of last night’s “Good Night,” then that may be a legitimate possibility.
During last night’s episode, Homeland remained poised and focused throughout the hour, as we split our time between Brody and the special ops team on the Iraqi/Iranian border and Carrie, Saul, and Quinn inside a CIA operations room, the three of them left to sit, wait, and watch as the intense and violent events unfolded on the monitors in front of them. Due to the fact that these two set pieces were essentially the only locations that we saw throughout the hour (minus a couple of small scenes between Dar and the president’s chief of staff) and because these two storylines were, obviously, importantly intertwined together, the episode always felt tense and thrilling; “Good Night” was one of the few times all season where I felt that intensity that I used to always feel while watching Homeland during its first two seasons, the feeling that anything could happen to almost anyone at any moment.
Homeland regaining this sense of urgency, something that I’ve said before has been missing all season, also allowed for some nice character moments. Saul’s initial defeat at having to abort the operation and then his joy after hearing from Carrie that it was still in tact after Brody had crossed the border (“He made it. And you, Saul, are still in the game.”) was the first time all season that I’ve really felt Saul’s hope and desperation to have his plan succeed. While the plot twists and cliffhangers that Saul’s complex mission has forged have been entertaining (and also somewhat frustrating) to watch, what has always been missing from this storyline for me was the emotional connection it held to his character. You could make the argument that the emotional connection between the operation and Saul stems from his fractured relationship with Carrie; however, Saul’s need and desire for this plan to fully succeed was always something that I needed Homeland to give me a little more of, and thankfully, last night, that’s what Mandy Patinkin’s performance delivered.
Furthermore, both Brody and Carrie were also given moments to shine throughout this episode, specifically during their phone call together, as Brody heroically decides to try to cross the Iranian border, even though he knows that there will be no extraction team in place to save him. Brody’s belief that Carrie would somehow find a way to rescue him, that she would be the one person who could bring him home, no matter what, was a nice callback to the unrealistic romanticism of Homeland’s second season.
While Brody and Carrie may be destined to love each other, their love is ill-fated and not a feasible option for either of them, but their connection is still what motivates Brody to believe that was he’s doing is right and that he will be successful. Brody becomes the heroic marine that he always wanted to be, even as Carrie tells him over the phone that “It’s a fantasy.” This was both the character of Carrie and Homeland itself acknowledging the power that the Carrie/Brody relationship holds, while also recognizing that in any realistic setting (even on an unrealistic series like Homeland), these two lovers are doomed to be disappointed. Whether Brody survives this mission to Iran or not, there will never be a happy ending for him and Carrie, which makes their powerful feelings for one another all the more palpable.
Lastly, “Good Night” works so well and has me so encouraged that Homeland’s third season is going to have a satisfying ending because every plot thread, every conversation or conflict, seems to be coming together. Even little details, such as Fara’s uncle in Iran, moments that I thought the Homeland writers were simply using in order to shed more light on new characters, are now becoming integral components to the season’s endgame. It seems like almost every part of this season that felt like it was simply pressing the pause button, halting the action until Saul’s real intentions could be revealed or until Brody could return from Caracas, now possess a new sense of importance, which is helping to rejuvenate the series. And as Javadi entered the room, brutally murdering the special ops team member in cold blood and telling Brody that they were going to Tehran, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit rejuvenated myself. This is the Homeland I used to know, and it’s great to see it again.
What did everyone else think about last night’s episode of Homeland? Are you excited for this season’s final two episodes?
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