“Homeland” recap: The rebuilding of Nicholas Brody

Will Brody survive this season of “Homeland,” or is his latest effort truly a suicide mission?

Topics: Homeland, homeland recap, TV,

"Homeland" recap: The rebuilding of Nicholas Brody (Credit: Showtime)

In this week’s “Homeland,” a broken-down Nicholas Brody was rebuilt into a well-trained, agile, government-infiltrating machine. That evolution felt almost archetypal, partially reminiscent of the hero’s journey that we’ve seen unfold in countless other novels and films. As Brody went through violent heroin withdrawal, then miraculously recovered and physically conditioned himself for what Saul described as his “chance to be a Marine again,” I was reminded in particular of “The Dark Knight Rises,” in which a battered Batman summons the strength to escape from his prison-dungeon, return to Gotham and save the city, one last time, from Bane.

The title of this episode, as it happens, also was “One Last Time,” a name that implies that Brody may not survive his half-baked mission to Iran. Or perhaps we will just think he didn’t, and then we’ll see him at an outdoor cafe, exchanging a meaningful glance with Michael Caine. (In the “Homeland” twist on “The Dark Knight” saga, is it possible that Alfred is … Dana? Oh my God, yes! This totally explains why Dana’s now a motel housekeeper. That’s the bizarro world version of being a butler at Wayne Manor!)

In all seriousness, the story of Nicholas Brody feels like it’s coming full circle, what with the revisiting of old demons — those Abu Nazir and Tom Walker flashbacks — and that brief, terribly sad conversation with Dana, who, not surprisingly, did not want to see her father when he unexpectedly showed up at her motel maid’s quarters. Even the last thing Carrie said to Brody before he hopped on that helicopter — “See you on the other side” — had the ring of a last goodbye, one Brody didn’t know he might have been saying to two people: Carrie, and the lil’ Brody who continues to grow inside of her no matter how much she drinks, smokes or stands in the way of sniper bullets.

As frustrating as the Brody-Carrie relationship can be, there’s still a very palpable chemistry between Claire Danes and Damian Lewis that would be missed if Brody were permanently removed from the show. On the other hand, there’s so much potential drama to be mined from Brody’s death that I can feel myself almost rooting for it to happen. Imagine how it would affect Carrie, who talked Brody into going to Iran while she was secretly carrying his child; or on Dana, who rebuffed her father in their final moments together; or on Saul, who cooked up the scheme that put Brody at risk.



Let’s talk about that scheme, shall we? Contrary to what I assumed last week, Saul did not retrieve Brody from Caracas with the intention of immediately claiming credit for his capture. I was right, however, when I guessed that Saul intends to use Brody as a means to infiltrate terrorist regimes.

Specifically, the second phase of Saul’s Mahid Javadi-related master plan requires Brody and a special ops team to take out Javadi’s boss and clear the way for Javadi to become the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, all of which must be accomplished before Lockhart assumes the role of CIA director. While this agenda raises the intensity and the stakes for the third act of Season 3, it also reveals just how much the writers had to stretch to come up with a narrative device that would put Brody back in Saul’s and Carrie’s orbit. It was impossible to look away from this episode, especially Lewis’ no-head-beating-barred portrayal of Brody’s desperate detox process. It also was impossible to get through the whole hour without shaking one’s head and doing at least one classic Liz Lemon eye roll.

The fact that in 16 days, Brody turned from barely functioning, heroin-addicted man-baby into physically fit, “Wild at Heart”-quoting soldier was hard to believe, even if that illegal Nigerian-plant drug does work wonders to accelerate the withdrawal process. So were some of the details of Saul’s Brody play, which, somehow, will lead to full cooperation from Javadi and the U.S. finally being able to “sit down and talk” with Iran. Even Carrie couldn’t suppress the opinion that Saul might be reaching. Although, given recent headlines, maybe Saul Berenson is more in sync with reality than it appears.

He’s definitely in sync with calling Carrie on her crap. “I am at a fuckin’ loss with you,” he sputtered when she returned from taking Brody off the military base without authorization. “We’re going to have to find a way to trust each other, or at least come up with a really great way of faking it,” Carrie responded, a statement dripping with irony considering that earlier this season, these two devised a really great way to fake their mistrust in each other.

On the trust front, though, Carrie may be the least of Saul’s issues. Throughout this episode, he continued to rely on Dar Adal’s seemingly good counsel, but every time Dar said something like, “Take my word on this,” all I could wonder was: Should Saul be taking Dar’s word on anything?

Earlier this season, Dar pledged his loyalty to Lockhart behind Saul’s back, but appeared to have destroyed any alliance with the senator once he helped Saul lock the guy in a conference room. But I’ve been wondering for a while whether Dar might be playing both sides, ensuring that he’ll remain high up the CIA food chain when Lockhart gets confirmed.

We learned in this episode that Mira’s Saul-spying boyfriend was actually an Israeli intelligence officer feeding info to Lockhart. (Like all excellent intelligence officers, the guy was dumb enough to meet with the senator in the middle of a well-known Capitol Hill restaurant. Insert Liz Lemon eye roll here.) That reveal implied that everything Lockhart knew about Saul’s trip to Caracas came via Mira’s friend from Mumbai, but that could just be a red herring. Dar could be an informant, too, one who’s willing to champion Saul if the political winds start blowing in his direction and against Lockhart, but equally willing to toss Saul under the nearest bus the minute the Javadi mission goes south.

It looks like we’ll find out whether the mission goes south in next week’s very special “Zero Dark Thirty” episode of “Homeland.” And, perhaps, others will finally find out that Carrie Mathison is expecting.

By the end of this episode, Carrie was nearly 16 weeks along, which means she should be showing very soon in a way that won’t be possible to hide. That’s assuming she doesn’t lose the baby. At this stage in her pregnancy, Carrie is still attempting what can only be described as a passive-aggressive abortion, engaging in behavior that she knows full well could endanger the child and cause a miscarriage. She’s handling motherhood the same way she’s always handled her relationship with Brody: recklessly and convinced that destiny will play a role in whether it works out or doesn’t.

Evidently she hasn’t had the heart to give up entirely on the pregnancy, the same way that she can’t give up on Brody, a  fact that was scrawled in all-caps all over her face as soon as she looked into his eyes again. She figures that if their relationship is meant to happen, it will survive all the crushing obstacles in its way. She assumes that if she’s supposed to be with Brody, he will somehow live to risk and rebuild himself another day.

And she has apparently decided that if this child is meant to be, he or she will be born no matter what she does. So she lights another cigarette, and she waits for fate to make the call.

Jen Chaney is a pop culture writer whose work appears regularly in The Washington Post, New York Magazine’s Vulture and The Dissolve. She’s currently working on a book about the movie “Clueless,” to be published next year by Touchstone.

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