‘Homeland’ Review: “Good Night”
On tonight’s all-new episode of ‘Homeland,’ Brody and his team head to Iran to attempt phase two of Saul’s mission, but first they have to make their way through the dangerous border crossing at Iraq. The mission faces threats on all sides — from Brody’s fragile mental state to military forces on the ground in Iraq, no one said this was going to be an easy task. Meanwhile, Quinn discovers Carrie’s little secret, and the writers find a way to work Fara back into the plot.
For an episode that largely takes place at the Iraq-Iran border, with Brody and his team evading police and military forces to help him gain entry to Iran so he can claim asylum and get phase two of this mission going, “Good Night” is a muddy, sort of meandering episode. Perhaps it’s because so much of the action is divided between Brody and the gang at the middle eastern border crossing and Carrie and Saul in the CIA operations room. And then there’s Dar Adal, who’s hanging out with Higgins, trying to make sure he doesn’t do something silly like, I don’t know, call the president to let him know what his government is up to.
Or maybe this week falters because we have Fox teen drama moments like Quinn telling Carrie that he looked at her medical records and found out that she’s pregnant: “Carrie, you’re 15 weeks pregnant.” That people have to keep informing Carrie she is pregnant and telling her how far along she is continues to be both hilarious and troubling. She asserts this week that the baby isn’t Brody’s, which all but confirms that this pregnancy isn’t going to last. Is this a plot point we’ll laugh at dismissively years from now, like, “Hey, remember when Carrie was kind of pregnant and everyone had to keep saying it to remind her and us because if they weren’t saying it, then it wasn’t real? Good times!” I’m not sure what the narrative relevancy of a Carrie pregnancy is other than to highlight the recklessness that comes with being bipolar and falling off the med wagon.
The pregnancy talk with Quinn is a symptom, of course, of the larger problem plaguing the show, particularly this season: the soapiness of moments like Carrie pleading with Brody to abort (the choice of wording there has to be intentional — if so, it feels half-cooked; if not, wow). She tells him that once he enters Iran on his own, now that the mission has gone to hell, the CIA — and Carrie — won’t be able to help him. This is where “Good Night” gets a little convoluted, listening to Carrie explain that, even though they sent him over there with this whole plan in place, now that the Iraqis are on to them, they have to back out. It seems, inexplicably, both overly complicated and under-thought at the same time — did the CIA not consider Iraq’s military getting involved? Did they not consider an IED or mine going off in the desert? Why was it okay to send Brody over there on his own before, but not now? What brand of gum is Saul chewing?
For all the action we see in the desert, this stretch of the episode feels so lifeless. Brody’s mission takes place at night, and the scenes are dark, muddy, and listless. “Good Night” takes its title from the code word used by the team should the mission go south and Brody is recognized — it does, and he is by Iraqi police. When his team has to kill the cops, Brody is shaken and traumatized, as if it’s his first time witnessing such atrocities, and this is a guy who wore a suicide vest with every intention of blowing up a bunker full of people. This is a guy who brutally killed a guy in the woods. Brody has seen — and done — some serious stuff. And there are few actors like Damian Lewis (and Claire Danes, for that matter), who can pull off frazzled, shaken, traumatized energy like this. Just a few minutes later, an IED goes off and the life of a comrade is threatened, and we watch a switch get flipped — the old Brody is back. It’s such a small thing, but Lewis really does a lot of incredible work on this show when he’s around.
And although we suffer through some plodding action and soapy moments between Carrie and Brody, it’s all kind of worth it for the final scene this week. Javadi and Brody, face to face, at last. I guess it’s safe to say Saul shouldn’t have trusted Javadi, since he offs Brody’s teammate, who was ready to suffer through at least seven days (at least) of torture so Brody could pull off the assassination in Tehran. Or maybe not? ‘Homeland’ really does love to just let people get away with murder because they’re necessary to national security, or whatever.
One last thing: Fara is still a character and is important because Carrie wants to use her for her Iranian connection. No biggie, she just needs to use her uncle’s pad as a safe place for Brody to rendezvous after he assassinates the head of the Iranian revolutionary guard. It’s going to be so chill, you won’t even know anyone was there.