Homeland recap: 'One Last Time'
After last week’s stunning cliffhanger with Brody and Saul, Homeland went full steam ahead with tonight’s hour, “One Last Time,” which, thanks to an intense (maybe even Emmy submission-worthy?) performance by Damian Lewis and sharply written dialogue, has made me optimistic about this season’s final episodes. This was a well-crafted episode, and I dare say it’s the best of this season so far.
I’ll admit I wasn’t the most confident in the show’s ability to bring Brody back in play, given how the writers struggled with logically keeping him around past the first season vest plot. But tonight’s episode made good use of the character, dedicating the most screen time to Brody and his torturous post-Caracas rehabilitation without any of it feeling over-the-top or unnecessary. By shaping the episode and every character around Brody’s plight, his story felt organic again, instead of being a liability or an afterthought.
Not only that, but ending the episode with Brody leaving for a new mission is a clever way to ensure his importance without dealing with the question of how much screentime to allot him every episode. Saul’s plan may have a ton of holes, but including Brody now makes sense, in the “well, this is Homeland so it sort of makes sense” way.
Anyway, on with the (longer-than-usual) recap! We open the hour with Carrie at the naval hospital, recovering from her gunshot wound. Though she’ll heal just fine, she’ll have to deal with the CIA about her release, and as her doctor points out, she’s now on the record as 13 weeks pregnant (er, should she be showing?). Carrie hesitates but acknowledges that she’s aware of her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Saul and Dar Adal are watching Brody being examined in a cell, struggling with withdrawal. Four men — special ops soldiers Saul brought in, we later learn — restrain Brody to his bed while he flails around and sobs.
Saul, though, says that bringing the dehydrated and diseased Brody to a hospital is “out of question,” and that Brody must quit cold turkey. He trusts that Brody will make it through, but it’s not looking good: Brody violently coughs and heaves all over his cell floor, begging for drugs.
Carrie is much more serene with her painkillers in her hospital room. Lockhart stops by to see her, and gleefully notes how the agency caused her to be injured and land in the hospital. “You’re lying there shot,” he says, smirking. “Still, somehow I’m the enemy.” Of course, Carrie’s having none of it, dismissing his remarks. But when Lockhart asks what Saul was up to in Caracas, Carrie betrays her ignorance, and Lockhart pounces. “You didn’t even know he was there, did you?” he asks, as she turns away.
News of Lockhart’s visit reaches Saul, who realizes Carrie knows exactly what he was up to in Caracas. He instructs Dar to keep Carrie at the hospital for the time being “away from Brody,” but as for Lockhart knowing about Caracas, Saul and Dar reach the conclusion that their homes and offices must have been bugged because only the two of them knew about Saul’s trip. To fix this, they ask — who else? — Virgil and Max to do the dirty work. Max proves his competence yet again when he discovers the bug planted in Saul’s computer mouse by Alan Bernard.
Back at the CIA safehouse, Brody’s carried out of his cell after soiling himself and gets tossed into a shower to be cleaned. Seeing this, Saul wonders how long it’ll take for the former congressman to be “ready,” but he’s told Brody needs at least 10 days to clean up. Saul’s not happy with the news — he only has six until Lockhart’s confirmation hearings begin.
Dar, however, has a solution: a Nigerian drug that wipes out the effects of withdrawal faster than quitting cold turkey, but causes “violent, mind bending hallucinations.” Saul gives the go-ahead for them to use the drug on Brody.
And that’s when the real fun begins.
NEXT: “You will do this one last thing.”
Alone in his room, Brody begins to lose his mind, fixating on a spot on the wall and singing the Marines’ Hymn — “From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli/We will fight our country’s battles/In the air; on land and sea” — before pausing and reprimanding someone he sees.
“Say something, you motherf–ker,” he says, just as the camera cuts to who he’s glaring at: Tom Walker, his former ally he killed after the botched suicide vest op. Walker silently glares back until he sings the rest of the hymn to Brody. The hallucination understandably drives Brody out of his mind. He destroys a chair in his cell and grabs a splintered stake to stab himself with, repeatedly driving it into his arm.
Saul dashes to Brody to stop him from hurting himself further, but Brody doesn’t see Saul; instead, he hallucinates that it’s Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban, making a surprise special appearance — the actor wasn’t even included in the opening credits) coming to his rescue. Brody stops and gazes at Saul-as-Abu-Nazir, until he’s restrained.
It’s a fascinating scene for the episode, and not just because it brought some characters we’ve missed back on screen, but also because it accomplished many things at once: Tom Walker and Abu Nazir effectively reminded us of Brody’s past, but more than that, having Brody hallucinate that Saul is Abu Nazir was, at least to me, some sly meta commentary from the writers. They’ve been remaking Saul this entire season into somewhat of an antihero (I know, not that word again, but I think it’s true), and this just underlined Saul’s new position as someone who’s less moral than previously thought.
Anyway, when Brody wakes up, Saul’s waiting to talk to him about why he’s there. Brody immediately tells Saul that he had no hand in the bombing, but Saul stops him from saying more. “I’m inclined to agree,” Saul tells him. “But your transgressions don’t begin or end there. And I’m not about to engage in a back and forth where you somehow end up the victim. We both know what you’ve done. We both know what you are.” Brody looks stunned and confused at Saul’s speech. What could the acting director of the CIA possibly have in mind for him?
It turns out Saul wants to turn Brody back into a Marine, into someone who can help him carry out a mission. But Brody protests. “Please, no more, I’m done,” he says.
“You’re not,” Saul replies. “You will do this one last thing.”
Brody refuses to accept Saul’s offer, saying he would rather die. Saul decides, then, to test his resolve, and the special ops team drives Brody out on a boat in the middle of the night and tosses him overboard into the water. The foursome patiently waits to see if Brody resurfaces, but it quickly becomes clear that Brody has no intention of saving himself. Two men dive in after him, pick him back up, and report back to Saul.
“He went down like a stone, no attempts to save himself whatsoever,” one of the soldiers tells Saul. But Saul and Dar aren’t giving up on Brody. For the time being, they’ll have to force-feed him and keep him alive.
Clearly, Saul can’t motivate Brody, but he knows the person who can.
NEXT: Calling Carrie
No matter what the CIA does with Brody, it always comes back to Carrie, doesn’t it? Saul reluctantly realizes that he has to appeal to her, so he pays her a visit at the hospital.
Unfortunately for Saul, Carrie’s in no mood to help the agency. “I keep coming back to the fact that this bullet in my shoulder would never have happened without your OK,” she tells him.
But Saul turns the tables on her, telling her he never bought for one second her lie about Brody slipping out of the country while she was unconscious for 14 hours after the Langley bombing. Backed into a corner, Carrie asks how Brody is, and aggressively asks Saul, “What did you do to him?”
“You know, the assumptions behind that question are so misguided, it frightens me,” Saul replies. “Believe me, it wasn’t something I wanted.”
Saul moves on and fills Carrie in about the next phase of his plan, which requires Brody to be in shape again. Here’s the gist: Saul wants to use Brody to take out Javadi’s boss, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which, according to Saul, is “the single greatest impediment to peace.” Once the head’s removed, Javadi will move up the ranks and take his place, helping the CIA have a hold on Iranian security, and allowing for Iran-U.S. relations to finally be about peaceful negotiations instead of incessant war.
It’s an idealistic plan, not to mention a dangerous one with a slim chance of success, and Carrie’s right to point it out. “Come on, Saul, you’re reaching,” she says. “At best, it’s a suicide mission.”
Saul, though, is again confident (overconfident, even?) that it’ll work, because they already have Javadi in play, and all he needs is Brody to come on board. And, he emphasizes, the mission’s success would completely change the map in U.S. foreign relations and maybe, finally, the two countries “can sit down and talk.” “That’s the play, Carrie,” he explains. “Tell me it’s not worth your time.”
Though Carrie never says the words back to him, she agrees to see Brody and quietly walks into his room, as Brody opens his eyes. The two — in one of many highlights this episode — spend a painful minute in silence, as Brody slowly comes to the realization that it’s not Saul or one of the soldiers visiting him this time.
Slowly, he turns to look at Carrie, who smiles back at him. She strokes his arm and continues to hold her smile, but after watching her, Brody turns away.
Carrie starts crying, but goes ahead and speaks to him. “Brody, I want you to know I didn’t know you were here until today. I came as soon as I heard,” she says. “Tell me if there’s anything I can do for you. Anything.” But Brody keeps mum, and stays on his side as she exits the room.
Saul watches her leave through his security feed, then turns and sees her walk toward him down the hall from Brody’s room. Satisfied at her first try, Saul divulges everything he knows about what happened to Brody — getting shot at the Colombian border, the incident at the mosque — while Carrie quietly takes it all in. At the end, she requests a vehicle to take Brody to his next stop.
Carrie’s plan is a cruel one, but she’s forced to deal her hand because of Saul’s looming deadline. She leads Brody to the motel where Dana now works as a maid, and Brody reacts just as she hoped he would: He tries to reach Dana, thrashing against the soldiers in an attempt to leave the car. But when Carrie tells him Dana can’t hear his screams, Brody finally stops and turns his anger toward her. “You bitch, you f–king bitch,” he says to Carrie.
Carrie looks hurt, but she did her job: Brody’s motivated and clearly wants to see Dana, which is enough for Carrie to use to force him to help the CIA.
NEXT: “Quit your f–king games, Carrie.”
Virgil and Max, during all of this, have tracked down Alan Bernard, and followed him to a meeting with Lockhart. The duo present their findings to Saul, who can only laugh at the turn of events. So his wife’s lover is an Israeli intelligence officer who’s also in cahoots with his enemy at the agency? Great! Bernard is definitely unlikable, and Lockhart truly can’t be trusted. The show just painted them both as clear-cut villains.
And Saul takes the information straight to Lockhart, definitively getting the upper hand over his successor. In return for not releasing the images, Saul tells Lockhart, Lockhart just needs to give Saul more time at the top of the food chain by postponing the confirmation hearing by a few weeks. Lockhart agrees after realizing his flimsy cover story — that Bernard is there to interview him for a profile in Le Monde — isn’t going to cut it. There’s just one problem: Lockhart wonders why Saul isn’t releasing the images immediately, seeing as he could use the information to permanently ruin the senator and keep the top position to himself, possibly even guaranteeing his own tenure. “Because it would humiliate my wife, Senator, and because it would damage the agency,” Saul replies.
And that’s the crucial difference between the two men’s philosophies: Sure, Saul’s more old fashioned in his approach with the agency, but also understands that the agency needs protecting. Lockhart doesn’t, only seeing the agency as a force that’s been too unsuccessful in recent years to apprehend the Big Bads.
Back at the safehouse, Carrie is catching Brody up on all the Dana drama — his daughter has dropped out of school, moved out, and changed her last name. That’s most of it anyway; Carrie wisely avoids any mention of Leo or Dana’s suicide attempt (at least, she saves the latter for later). Brody’s frustrated and insists on seeing Dana again. “Quit your f–king games, Carrie, I need to look her in the eye,” he says. “I want her to know I’m innocent.”
At this, Carrie launches into a new approach, saying much of what Saul said but amping it up with her own spin. “What do you want, Brody? What have you always wanted? A chance at redemption,” she says, firing the questions at him. “I’m talking about the suicide vest, I’m talking about the death of Elizabeth Gaines, and those two Secret Service agents… I’m talking about what happened to that imam and his wife in Caracas.”
Brody’s left speechless, so Carrie continues her appeal. “Do what Saul is asking. Alright, what I’m asking, if not for your sake, then for Dana’s,” she says. “Otherwise, telling her you’re innocent is just one more lie.”
It finally sinks in for Brody, and he slowly sits down on his bed. “Look at me, Carrie, you couldn’t send me out for a pack of cigarettes right now,” he tells her.
But Carrie’s confident in his abilities, and the training begins.
Brody jogs with the special ops team, and after one quick title card declaring “16 days later,” we’re introduced to a strengthened Brody, back to form as a montage shows him working out physically and mentally.
Finally, he’s ready for a briefing about the plan.
NEXT: “Did you think ever for one second if I wanted to see you?”
Saul’s plan, in a nutshell, is for the CIA to help Brody reach the Iranian border, where Brody will surrender himself and eventually be flown to Tehran after a period of vetting. Saul’s confident Brody will reach the city because Javadi will help, and the government would be happy to let Brody in and use him as propaganda. Once Brody takes out the head of the Revolutionary Guard, Brody will be extracted by a four-member team in a small city outside Tehran.
Brody quietly considers the facts and later, while stepping outside, catches Carrie smoking a cigarette. Carrie quickly tells him he saw nothing, and Brody reminds her that she promised he would get to see Dana if he went through with Saul’s plan.
“I meant after you get back,” she says weakly, but he pushes ahead. “Come on, Carrie, we both know it’s a long shot,” Brody says, almost with a smile. When Carrie replies that she had doubts about his ability to get back in shape, Brody questions her behavior. “Is that why you’ve kept your distance?” he asks. “Hey, it’s fine, you’re entitled.” Carrie doesn’t continue the conversation down that path, and instead tells him they have six hours before he has to leave, and drives him to Dana.
On the way, she finally tells him about Dana’s suicide attempt, leaving Brody looking broken just before he has to approach Dana’s room at the motel. He goes ahead anyway, and manages to convince his daughter to open the door and let him in.
What follows is a painful scene — a good painful, if that makes any sense. Morgan Saylor in particular does best when she’s playing opposite Damian Lewis, and it’s a great move to use her character in this episode because Dana’s the only one who gives him the reality check that finally sinks in, unlike both attempts from Saul and Carrie.
“Did you think ever for one second if I wanted to see you?” Dana says, crying. “What did you want to hear? That you were a good dad? That despite everything that it’s all okay? What do you want me to say?” She turns around and grabs a pen and a paper pad. “I will say it to you as long as you promise that I’ll never have to see you again,” she says, before seeing Carrie in the doorway. “Either of you.”
Brody has nothing left to say and leaves. Dana’s speech is crushing, and Brody realizes he’s lost his daughter. And after he and Carrie drive back to the safehouse, he has a new motive. “I will come back from Tehran,” he tells Carrie. “Not just for her.” Carrie appears to almost respond, but catches herself at the last second. She instead vents her frustration at Saul, who reprimands her for driving Brody alone to Dana. “Have a little faith, Saul,” she says. “I need you to get that we’re gonna have to find a way to trust each other again or at least come up with a really great way of faking it.”
NEXT: “See you on the other side.”
After everything that’s happened in this packed episode, Brody’s ready to be sent off at last. Just before he walks away, Brody pauses to give Carrie a final look. Carrie, though, calls out to him one last time. It looks like she’s about to tell him something — the pregnancy, perhaps? — before stopping herself and saying, “See you on the other side.”
Slowly, the camera zooms in on Carrie as she watches him leave for Iran. Fade to black.
And that’s that. Like I said earlier, I’m nominating it as the best episode so far this season. It’s brilliantly paced, because you don’t get a chance to pause and think about Saul’s plan (until now, of course), but it allows enough space for scenes between Carrie and Brody to breathe. In a way, I’d argue that the episode was also trying to show how Brody is Carrie’s addiction, and quitting him cold turkey hasn’t worked out well for her, even if she was never trapped at the Tower of David. Brody is harder to read, even though we’re shown the scene with him and the soldier discussing whether there’s anything going on between Brody and Carrie, which means we’ll probably find out more of his thoughts down the line.
But aside from all that, having the two of them together was just a testament to how much Claire Danes and Damian Lewis crackle when they’re together onscreen, which of course makes me miss season 1 Homeland. I hope I’m not the only one — Tom Walker and Abu Nazir’s appearances also made me nostalgic for the early days of this show.
Yet, even with those reminders of the old Homeland, the current incarnation of Carrie, Brody, and Saul’s story is looking up, as everything’s set in motion for another explosive season ending. We still have several episodes worth of stories to watch first, but now that we know Saul’s plan and its stakes, the show’s on a clearer path than before. The only things that bother me at the moment include Carrie’s pregnancy story line and how the show just glossed over the Alan Bernard/Lockhart plot, but I’m sure at least the former will come up again before the season ends. (Side note: Is anyone else concerned with how shaky Saul’s plan sounds when you think about it more? For example, how can he trust that Javadi will actually help Brody make it to Tehran? We know that Javadi seemingly has no other choice, but he seems too sly to just do Saul’s bidding like that, without getting something else out of it. It’s a lot banking on a villainous double agent and a congressman-turned-fugitive-turned-junkie working together to take out someone Carrie claims is more protected than the Ayatollah.)
Whatever happens, the show can rest easy knowing it produced an episode that was not only emotionally satisfying, but thrilling in its drama. And I can’t wait to see what happens next.
So what’d you think of the episode, readers? What’s coming down the line for Brody? Do you think Brody completely forgot Chris existed? Are you happy to see Damian Lewis helm an episode again, or would you rather they write off Brody by the end of this season? Whatever your thoughts, share them in the comments below.