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For the first time this season, I didn’t want an episode of Homeland to end. Shocking, I know, especially with how underwhelming the third season has been, but the second half of the season is significantly better than the first half and the ending of the story arc is shaping up to be quite good. “Big Man in Tehran” is a good follow-up to last week’s impressive and action-packed episode. Again, there is a more focused approach to the narrative than earlier in the season. This installment is much more sweeping than last week’s, but it isn’t hindered by unnecessary, extraneous plot lines. Though there are many narrative contrivances and conveniences (Carrie sure got to Brody just in time. It was really that easy for Brody to get to Akbari? And what do these guys have against camera surveillance?), the performances and the execution of many of the scenes elevate the questionable story. There is no doubt that those final moments are expertly played by Damian Lewis and the sequence is directed to emphasize the tension and suspense of the situation. The episode’s ending creates a feeling of anticipation and certainly encourages positive expectations for the season’s finale episode. “It all started here.” In the last, very tense scene of the episode, Brody realizes that he is sitting in the place where his ordeal began, the room in which the plan to break him down all those years ago was conceived. With this realization, it seems, comes his decision to kill Akbari. Had Akbari chosen a different approach to things, not mentioned the fateful conversation he had with Abu Nazir, perhaps Brody would have not gone through with the assassination. “Big Man in Tehran” focuses most of its story on Brody’s potentially shifting alliance. Harkening back to the series’ initial treatment of the character. Is he a traitor, can we trust him? Questions that were raised and became the basis of the show in that first season arise once more. Would Brody betray his country yet again? I don’t think we’ll ever really know. And it really isn’t that important, what is significant is the choice he ultimately made, much like his decision to terminate his suicide mission. With this major development comes a more urgent uncertainty. Will Brody’s tale end where it began? Most likely. There really seems to be no alternative. Extracting Brody from this situation is as close to impossible as anything can get. Granted, getting him alone with Akbari seemed to be such an impossible task before he managed to pull it off quite easily, but so much is stacked against Brody and Carrie that the success of this part of the mission is highly improbable. Also, they have gotten lucky so many times in this operation to this point that it would be frustrating to see them get yet another pass. I can’t see Brody getting out of that office, unharmed, let alone alive. As fun as this episode is, there is no escaping the déjà vu quality of it all. The writers don’t seem to know what else to do with Brody (this episode was a quick rehash of the first season) and his story seems to have come to its inevitable conclusion. Yes, they are irrationally invested in the Carrie/Brody romance, but come on, even they have to admit no one really cares about the characters’ bond.
And about that bond, Carrie yet again disregards orders from Saul and potentially sabotages the operation and the agency’s efforts in order to protect Brody, who by the way hasn’t proven himself to be the most trustworthy guy. How many times do we have to see this exact scenario play out? “She wouldn’t fucking dare,” says Andrew Lockhart in response to Carrie’s insubordination. Obviously, Lockhart has never seen an episode of Homeland. This is her M.O and lately is has grown increasingly annoying. I mean, there is a reason why so may viewers took gleeful pleasure in her getting shot a couple of episodes ago. But as irritating as she has been, the writers are oblivious to this and reward all her disobedience; they suffer from “Carrie is always right” syndrome. Since Carrie’s instincts are miraculously fail-proof, then it gives the character the opportunity to do whatever the hell she wants, without any repercussions, which isn’t really fun to watch. For once I’d like to see her make a horrible decision that doesn’t pay off, nobody makes the right call every time. Perhaps this final episode will offer some kind of reality check for her; Brody’s death would certainly be impactful and is a likely development. Still, “Big Man in Tehran” is a fun episode, full of tense scenes and great performance and I can finally say that I cannot wait for next week to see how it all will unfold. Final Thoughts: