‘Big Man In Tehran’
“I’ve traveled so far and I almost didn’t make it,” exclaimed Brody towards the start of this season’s penultimate episode… you and me both brother. If the first half of this season strung together six of Homeland’s weakest episodes, these last three have debatably been some of the show’s strongest. Well-balanced, sharply written and brimming with a gnawing tension that pushed towards a final scene that no doubt left you, like me, with your mouth wide open.
Time has passed since we last saw Brody and he is now working towards the final phase of his mission, but first he must convince the Iranian authorities that he is a genuine enemy of the Yanks. Mercifully, his main interrogator is Javadi, who puts Brody through his paces without really applying too much pressure on him. While he does this Carrie, complete with brunette hair and headscarf, is in Tehran to assist Brody with finishing his mission. This she is doing with the help of Fara’s uncle and two Mossad agents hired through Alan Barnard, the lover of Saul’s wife who is now in a detention centre for spying on Saul for Lockhart a few weeks ago.
This was an episode that used everything at its disposal to build an almost unbearable amount of tension. The relentless twisting and turning of the narrative, the electrifying dialogue, and the subtle score pivotally used at key moments heightened the risk and confusion that both the characters and we felt. If there was a gripe to be had, it’s that with so much going on, we weren’t able to admire the beautiful Moroccan scenery that doubled for Tehran.
Once again at the forefront of the all the action was Damien Lewis, whose lack of Golden Globe nomination is a serious crime. The key to his performance remains his ability to simultaneously let you trust and suspect him. During this episode and the last, one was never fully convinced as to whether Brody was really intending to kill Akbari given the chance. It added yet another layer of excitement as Brody seemed to embrace being used as a propaganda tool for the Iranian people.
This show has always enjoyed toying with our preconceptions of what makes a protagonist and antagonist, something that was masterfully brought back to the forefront of the show during this episode’s final scene. As Brody demanded to meet with Akbari, to tell him information about Javadi, we believed that once again we had been duped by Lewis’ enigmatic performance. Even after he had killed him, we still don’t know where Brody’s true loyalties resided; did he killed Akbari for the sake of the mission or for his own personal reasons involving Akbari’s relationship with Abu Nazir?
Then there’s Saul, determined to do what’s right and who has now ordered Brody’s hit in order to clear up the mess of the Iranian propaganda. His decision, going against Carrie’s beliefs, has once again turned Saul in to an antagonistic figure; but one that we know is trying to do well by his country and his profession. It’s the way our notions on good and bad are played with that has made Homeland such a roller-coaster ride in the past… and with one episode left and so much to address, it seems the ride has no plans to slow just yet.