Homeland Season Three Episode Eleven Recap: “Big Man in Tehran” is Big Television

Like others, I considered myself a skeptic of Nicholas Brody post-Season 1 of Homeland. He was a character who had outgrown his usefulness to the show, and the longer that the writers kept him alive and strung out the soapy romance between him and Carrie, the worse the show would be. The man should’ve died in the bunker with the suicide vest, or he should have died after assassinating the Vice President, or Peter Quinn should have terminated him after the CIA had already expended his use as a double agent in the Season 2. These fears seemed justified in the early episodes of Season 3, where even Brody’s absence bogged down episodes that charted the traumatic effects of his betrayal on his daughter, and even in the technically excellent visuals of “Tower of David,” which precisely paralleled the lives of Carrie and Brody in ways that nobody thought necessary. And yet, the most troubling episodes of Homeland have been those in which Brody didn’t appear, and bringing him back into the fold has revitalized the show, which otherwise was merely a slightly more sophisticated version of 24. I, and other critics, were wrong to assume that this was Carrie’s show, or that it was best to focus on the daily grind of the CIA–you can some form of that on any number of banal television shows. In truth, as the title suggests, Homeland has been about Brody all along–his singular path to find a place where he belongs, divided as he is between the desire to fulfill his unflinching duty as a Marine and the informed, conscientious objections of a world citizen who has seen the true, un-spun actions of the military’s drone strikes abroad.

So, of course, this week’s episode of Homeland, which I discuss in greater detail over at Slant Magazine, is the one that puts Brody in a position of no-return. Despite appearances–and an attempt by Saul to cut losses and murder him–Brody is in fact still working with the CIA, and the episode ends with him standing over the corpse of the head of Iranian Intelligence, in the middle of their most secure headquarters, desperately hoping that Carrie can come up with some sort of emergency extraction. Brody’s led a charmed life, and I’ll be sad to see him go, but I can’t possibly see how he survives this season–unless Carrie winds up captured (and tortured) in her attempts to save him. (Her being pregnant with Brody’s child would make this even more complicated.) But for all my fears and realization that Homeland is about Brody, I have faith that the show will find a way to continue at least to surprise and entertain me. Can’t wait to see how things wrap up next week, and that’s not something I often say about television these days.

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