Homeland Season 3 Review “Good Night”

So much of the third season of Homeland has felt like aimless wondering in Middle Eastern desert. Therefore, it seems fitting that the tensest hour of the season be set primarily in the Middle Eastern desert. When taken in a vacuum, the majority of the episode was tense, engaging, and featured some really solid performances from all involved. When looked at through the prism of the entire series, it becomes a little curious.

Penned by series’ veterans Alexander Cary and Charlotte Stoudt, the episode has a lot of beats that felt similar to a lot of season one. There are people in dark rooms dealing with realities most people never need know about (including POTUS). However, the episode is further energized as we track Brody’s mission across the Iranian border. It was liberating to watch an operation Carrie Mathison had no hope of destroying. Without that pall hanging over it, the mission became fully engrossing. Unfortunately, it gave Carrie’s appalling sanctimony longer fingernails to scrape the chalkboard. When she takes her shot at Senator Lockhart when he first enters the situation room, I wanted him to run down the entire list of her psychotic, mission-jeopardizing, boy-crazy behavior. It’s not entirely clear how the show feels about Carrie Mathison at this point, but I can only hope they’re on Team Lockhart. Given all that has occurred, it’s tough for anyone not to be.

Fortunately, Carrie’s preening and finger-waving was only a small portion of the episode. Watching the operation unfold was very engaging. There were many standard tropes used throughout the episode, but they were ultimately used wisely. We never got to know the team of men tasked with getting Brody over the border, but given their short usage time, it was unnecessary. Plus, it makes Javadi’s execution of one soldier more about Brody’s situation and less about another horrifying Javadi murder. Donnie Kershawarz as A-Z is the only one we learn lot about, but even that turns out to be manufactured for Brody’s comfort. The show handled them exactly as they should appear to us in their corner of the world: They’re elite soldiers who excel at their work. Though monetary restrictions couldn’t allow us to have a cinematically pleasing shootout, the people involved did their best to make it seem as though the situation was dire. If nothing else, it was nice to see people being good at their jobs for a change.

But about that ending: There are shows across the dial that always deliver the best possible result even in the face of insurmountable odds. Steve McGarrett will always triumph over the bad guy, Leslie Knope will always win the day, and Booth and Bones will always solve the case. It’s the way the shows are designed. When Homeland was at its most successful, it subverted this idea. Not everyone gets their moment in the sun. Sometimes they die horribly, sometimes they make poor decisions, and sometimes they get committed to a mental institution to receive electroshock therapy before resuming duty at the CIA. As Brody is taken in by the Iranian soldiers, I could only think about the far more interesting road not taken. If Saul’s entire dream of peace in the Middle East goes up in IED smoke, the show becomes a good deal more interesting. Alas, the super-secret Iranian military group appears as if from nowhere in the middle of a field (bad look for US drone equipment tonight), and Brody’s mission continues sort of as planned. Unless the show plans on running parallel narratives from DC and Iran in season four, I’m just not sure why we should care.