‘Homeland’ Review: “One Last Time”
After last week's exhilarating episode of 'Homeland,' tonight's all new episode finally reunites Carrie and Brody as Saul moves into Phase Two of his plan. In "One Last Time," Saul asks Brody to give himself to his country for one last mission -- a mission that may very well cost him his life, but will ultimately grant him the redemption he's been seeking since season 1. We also get a very welcome visit from Virgil and friends, who help assist Saul with a small but important victory.
The cards are all out on the table tonight in "One Last Time," as Saul reveals the details of his master plan in full: send Brody to Iran, where he'll meet with the head of the Iranian revolutionary guard and assassinate him. Javadi will ascend up the ranks, taking his place at the head of the guard and become one of the three most important men in Iran, and the two countries will do the unthinkable: we'll start negotiating peace talks instead of attacking and killing each other. In the world of television, the road there seems exciting, fraught with danger, suspense, and conflict -- and for all my concern about how they would work Brody back into this series, this seems like a really exciting prospect, especially since it keeps him away from Carrie. On the other hand, I can't possibly see this mission succeeding because then what? They all give each other high fives, 'Homeland' creates a fictional universe in which Iran becomes a peaceful nation, and then Carrie and Saul are making peace with new countries each season while also solving their differences.
I guess we'll worry about that when we get there, since 'Homeland' seems to be setting up this big Iran plan for season 4. Until then ... we spent a lot of time tonight watching Brody painfully detox (with the help of some African drugs not approved by the FDA because the CIA, for all its headaches, totally has its perks). It's sort of like looking at those Ripley clones in 'Alien: Resurrection,' where that one is begging Sigourney Weaver to kill it -- and you kind of want her to. Brody actually starts begging people to kill him, and you kind of want them to because honestly, he looks really miserable.
Carrie does a great job of leaving all these important things unsaid -- she knows the value of information, what it helps her gain and the personal cost for Brody. Telling him that Dana changed her name and left home is enough of a motivator for him to do the right thing (personal redemption seems too far out of reach for him now after Caracas), but telling Brody that his daughter tried to kill herself would push him too far over the edge, making him unpredictable and uncooperative. It really is baffling that Saul doesn't trust Carrie with the simplest of tasks. He trusts her to do this whole bipolar/mental breakdown song and dance number and stay locked down in the psych ward, but he doesn't trust her to know that he's going to Venezuela to retrieve Brody. He doesn't trust her to know the details of his Iran mission. He doesn't trust her to take Brody off base for an hour. He trusts her to act crazy because, well, he believes she's a nut case.
Couple that with the sinister undertones as he urges Brody to come back for one last mission for his country, and there's something very unsettling about this Saul. Zealous, almost. But that's the point, isn't it? The way Saul is using Brody isn't much different from the way he's used Carrie, and it reflects nicely back to "Tower of David," in which Carrie and Brody's afflictions were thematically mirrored in a way that was very striking there at the end. Here Brody is, begging Saul to just let him die, and there's Saul, whispering, "Just one last time, just one more thing." As long as you're breathing, you're still useful to them.
But perhaps the best moment this week involves Dana, whom Brody demands to visit to explain himself before he heads off to Iran. In their brief interaction, 'Homeland' beautifully captures the one-sided nature of this relationship. What could he possibly hope to accomplish? What is it he hopes she'll say? His need to apologize is entirely selfish, his need to see her is all for himself, and his need to parent her now that she is grown is only to serve his conscience. Even as he and Carrie drive off back to the base, he labors under some delusion that he'll come back home to Dana, as if this is just some phase. Though there's a lot of good stuff happening in both "A Red Wheelbarrow" and "One Last Time," the heartbreaking scene between Dana and Brody might be the most perfectly written between the two episodes ... hell, it might be the most perfectly written (and acted) scene we've had all season.
Also great this week: Virgil! David Marciano graces us with his wonderful presence and quickly discovers that Alain has been spying on Saul for Lockhart -- rather than blackmail the Senator outright and ensure tenure, Saul takes the opportunity to keep things classy and only asks that he be allowed to extend his position for a little while longer. He'd also rather not make a big deal about the Alain-Lockhart scandal to spare his wife from discovering she'd been played for a fool. It's a much-needed redeeming moment for Saul, that's for damn sure.
Carrie Baby Update: "The baby should be fine, in case you're wondering," the doctor dryly informs her whilst tending her gunshot wound at the hospital -- you know, Carrie, not that you asked or anything. Later, Carrie smokes a cigarette. Also, when this baby doesn't survive the season, none of us are going to feel bad about it, right? Clearly the writers of 'Homeland' want us to know that Carrie would be a terrible mother. I mean, I'm pretty sure that if something happens to this baby (and it feels so obvious that we're being prepared for it), Carrie will just shrug. If she cries or freaks out at all, I call total shenanigans.