Homeland: 3.09 - One Last Time

The full-blown return of Damian Lewis as Nick Brody has been an event hanging over Homeland ever since it came back for this third season. We all thought he'd be back in some full-time role by week four at most, but with the exception of his one spotlight episode in week three, Brody hasn't played a substantial role in a single episode until, well, now. Week nine. After last week's cliffhanger, where Saul found Brody in Caracas, it's officially game on. And just when I was starting to think this series was at its best as a CIA show about Saul and Carrie too.

Still, now he's back, what will they do with our heroin-hassled hero? Can't pretend I'm not intrigued, so let's get to it. Spoilers, obviously, watch on 4OD if need be.

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Can Nick Brody find redemption after shitting himself?

As a viewer who isn't a huge believer in the Doomed Love of Carrie and Brody, I didn't trust this episode, but it pleased me more than I expected. It helped that Brody was given the same grim psychological makeunder as everyone this season - he isn't much of a confident, redeemable hero, he doesn't make many big bold moves, he's just another guy in an impossible situation, unable to see a way out. He realises with increasingly clarity how much he's messed up his own life and everyone else's, all he can do now is make a vague stab for symbolic redemption in Iran.

Although the show swipes even that safety net away from him in the end, by wheeling on Dana to yell that she still won't love him anyway. Poor bastard. He clearly appreciates Carrie's warmth, but is far too busy trying not to have a breakdown for full-on lovelorn staring. Fair enough. This is a Brody I can get on board with, although assuming he survives the mission, he could still be back to annoying me by season four. I won't have an opinion on that until the season is over, I imagine, but for now, this does a decent job of assembling a troubled yet sympathetic character out of the human car wreck that Brody now is.

And to be fair, the scene where Carrie watches over Brody is very heartfelt, and Lewis does a great, upsetting job of the early sequences where Brody is out of his mind on various drugs. This was a longer-than-usual episode but I didn't feel it, I was staring at the screen the whole time. Turns out, taking Brody off stage for a while and destroying his life and soul was just what he needed. Hooray for pain!

Brody has training montage, is now Rocky

Some reviewers have criticised the way Brody recovers from being totally destroyed at the start of the episode to become combat-ready by the end, and that may well be valid in terms of realism. Does the heroin-curing wonder-drug they used really exist? Can you really train up that effectively in sixteen days? I do not know, does seem pretty quick, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of some liberties. I just hope the complex storyline they've built up in recent weeks isn't going to get flattened down into Nick Brody - Angst Commando in the remaining weeks.

Elsewhere, not a lot, to be honest. Some charged Saul/Carrie scenes, and the subplot from last week with Saul's love rival being a spy turns out to have a fairly pedestrian resolution. Virgil reappears, the Evil Senator has yet another bad day. Standard.

Nonetheless, especially considering my initial misgivings, I enjoyed this a lot. Could all go wrong later, as ever, but they've brought back Brody a lot more calmly and interestingly than I thought possible. Now, let's see if Homeland can resist having him rush in, complete the Iran mission singlehandedly, then whisk Carrie into his arms. Hope so.

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