Homeland: 3.11 - Big Man in Tehran

Homeland has spent its third season slowly building conspiacies and characters, all very slow and talky. Don't get me wrong, it's been intriguing and exciting as well, but after nine solid episodes of setting up the pieces, we're near the conclusion and that can mean only one thing: action time! Or at least, field operation commencement. So Brody is in Tehran trying to assassinate the leader of the Revolutionary Guard, Carrie watching over him and the rest of the CIA sitting at home, swearing at their comms equipment and wondering why they let Carrie out unsupervised.

This clearly won't go wrong. Join us now for Homeland penultimate episode bingo. And watch the episode on 4OD first, there will be dreadful spoilers.

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Brody and his guilt, sitting in a tree...

Once again, the show's big strategy of keeping Brody off-screen for ages so we had a chance to miss him is paying off here - Damian Lewis is doing great work showing Brody's desperate, soulful need for redemption, even as the weight of his ridiculous history presses down on him like so many tons of rubble. Brody scrabbles around, reaching for any hope he can find, only to realise no-one except Carrie wants him as anything other than an "asset".

At this point, the character is such a tangled mess that even he must have realised death is his best option. If this run of episodes is building to Brody being killed off next week, this could be remembered as an amazing run of episodes, a smoothly portrayed screen death that made something good out of a messy past. If he survives - well, it won't automatically suck, but they'll have to work hard to convince me it was worth it.

So that's the discussion next week. For now, though, Brody dashes around Tehran, determined to complete his mission, briefly slipping into believing he can find peace there, only to be shown that no, that was just another one of his delusions. We see Jivadi in action as a mole, which pays off his appearances earlier. He was made out as such a bastard in that arc, by the way, I struggle to believe he won't eventually betray Brody and/or the CIA, but for now, he's playing his part, presumably because if the operation works out, he gets a massive promotion.

"Let's send Carrie in, she'd never ruin the plan with sudden yelling..."

The storytelling in this episode is particularly good, keeping us up to date with a fast-moving storyline without skipping a single beat and juggling multiple characters with ease. Even when Homeland had ridiculous storylines in the past, it's always been good, well-told TV, so when they find a plot that works as well, it's a joy to watch.

Carrie, meanwhile - Claire Danes is still superb, and I'm glad we're going to reach the end of the season without playing the Carrie has a breakdown card yet again. Gotta be said though, the one thing still pushing at the edges of Homeland's plausibility is this: how many times will they let Carrie fuck up operations with her Brody obsession before someone says "Hey, guys, maybe we should fire her or give her a desk job?". Still, if they do knock off Brody next week, I guess that problem solves itself.

That's yet another question we'll come back to post-finale, and I guess this episode has done everything a good penultimate week should: left me on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what happens next. I hope the last episode won't be a letdown, but either way, this has been an impressive season for Homeland. Slow start, yes, but for the last seven or eight episodes, I've looked forward to every week and been tense throughout. Nicely done.

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