7   +   6   =  

homelandonelasttime3‘One Last Time’

One realises that this week on week review has harped on about how this season of Homeland has continued to improve on its lacklustre first half. Particularly over the last two episodes, which have carefully developed all the major characters as well as the central story arc. Last week’s finale left you craving more and One Last Time did not disappoint; sharply written with magnetic performances from all the cast, it was a bold and brilliant hour of television that may well be the show’s best episode since the Season one finale.

Time has elapsed since Saul found Brody in David’s tower and now Brody is being kept under lock and key in a military base, under Saul and Adal’s watchful eye. It has to be said that the show hasn’t suffered without Brody this season, but Damian Lewis’ performance in this episode was a tour de force from the native Brit. Watching his mental disintegration as he went cold turkey was expertly handled; it was painful and upsetting, but never over exaggerated.

Homeland was always at its peak when exploring the murky world of US espionage, admirably unafraid of showing the darker side of the CIA. The dialogue crackled with the lies, revelations and decisions made by the major players; Mandy Patinkin, Clare Danes & F. Murray Abraham all giving exceptional performances. Patinkin, in particular, was outstanding. Saul has long been considered Homeland’s moral heart and some of the most powerful moments came from seeing just how far he’s willing to push in order to achieve the greater good.

At its core though, Homeland has always been at its best when exploring the relationship between Carrie and Brody. There’s indescribable electricity whenever Danes and Lewis are on screen together. From the disappointment and hostility of their first encounter at Brody’s bedside, to the uncertainty of their goodbye, it was a poignant and effective reunion that once again allowed us to become fully invested in both characters.

Considering how melodramatic Homeland had become at times this season, the most astonishing moment was Brody’s meeting with his daughter Dana, which was played out with an elegant subtlety. Her tearful declaration that she never wanted to see her father again was heartbreaking to watch, thanks both to Morgan Saylor’s honest emotion and Lewis’ silently crushed facial expression. The writer’s decision to not draw the scene out was commendable; it was a short, sharp blow to both the audience and to Brody.

Leaving the episode with Brody shipping out for his mission to Tehran was a delicious tease of what’s to come from this season’s final quarter. With 3 episodes to go, we finally know the plan, the stakes and all of the players. Without doubt there are many thrilling moments to come over the next 3 weeks, but whether they can match the raw power of this flawless episode remains to be seen.

★★★★★

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