Homeland recap: Passenger's Luck

Brody's mission to cross the border into Iran doesn't go smoothly; Carrie and Saul try to keep the op in play from home
Ep. 10 | Aired Dec 1, 2013

WATCHING THE SCREENS... and chewing some lucky gum: the two things Saul and Carrie do this episode. Though there's not much they can do from Langley other than monitor what's going on abroad, both of them have vastly different reasons for wanting the mission to succeed.

Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

Looks like Saul's lucky gum, er, sort of worked.

Brody got into Iran and has met up with Javadi. Pieces all in place, right?

Not quite. See, at this point, I know I shouldn't be surprised by the plot holes, or by Homeland glossing over finer details to simply push the story forward -- after all, I've been overlooking them for past few episodes, because the pacing and the action trumped nonsensical plot devices -- but tonight's episode was just a little too uneven, and it makes me nervous that the rest of the mission will follow this format. Whatever happens, I'm hoping the writers have more up their sleeves.

Despite successfully packing in some thrilling, edge-of-your-seat moments, much of the hour felt like a parade of obstacles. To me, it seemed like the writers knew that Brody had to go from point A (being cleaned up, but worried about the mission) to point B (a confident Marine, picked up at the border), and they knew they had about 45 minutes to do it. But in order to make the journey compelling enough to last the entire episode without devoting most of the screen time to the final moments, they had to add some conflicts.

And in doing so, the episode made each segment feel as if Brody were a character in a video game, encountering one level of obstacles after the other, while Carrie, Saul, and company watched from home base. First came the faulty drone and the blocked border, which attracted local police -- and plenty of bloodshed with the delay. Next came Brody's freak-out session. Afterwards, it was the Iraqi patrol, forcing Brody to move in with only the leader of the special ops team accompanying him, and then came the land mine. It's a miracle Brody even made it within 300 yards of the border with all the speed bumps that felt like they were inserted just because the writers needed something to make his life difficult.

Of course, I'm not denying this episode wasn't intense -- it was full of riveting moments and unpredictable scenes that followed a straightforward, linear overarching story. It just made for a bumpy ride, plot-wise.

Anyway, the hour opened with Carrie tersely dismissing Quinn's questions about her pregnancy while heading to the CIA mission center. Quinn, being Quinn, only wanted to help, but Carrie's still not happy about being shot in the shoulder, and is now even more pissed at him for looking at her medical records. "Carrie, you're 15 weeks pregnant," Quinn tells her. "So?" she replies. "Stay the f--k out of my way." (Ouch, Carrie. You're telling this to the guy who was about to quit the CIA just weeks before, but came back because of you.) Frustrated, she even says the baby's not Brody's before rushing out of the elevator.

Meanwhile, Brody's in Iraq, waiting for the op to begin. He removes his socks and turns them inside out, an old habit he picked up as a Marine to switch it to the "fresh" side before a mission. One of the special ops soldiers points out that even though he's flipping it, one side's sweaty and the other's dirty. Brody smiles. "Well, look at me," he says, dragging the socks back on. "I'm a new man."

Sock drama aside, the teams are waiting for nightfall before they move toward the border, and back in D.C., Dar Adal has seated himself next to the Chief of Staff to reassure him of the plan. If anything goes wrong, the CIA will "have it covered," he tells Higgins. "I'm not even going to ask what that means," Higgins responds, but Dar says the mission's simple: All Brody has to do is cross the border and ask for asylum. Piece of cake!

Saul is also watching the preparations in his office, but nervously rummages for a piece of gum -- his "lucky gum," we find out later -- in his drawer. Despite all of Dar's reassurances, he's not 100 percent confident going in.

And neither is Carrie. The screens show Brody -- the Passenger -- doing fine, but she's worried. There may only be eight border patrol officers in their way for now, but who knows? Brody, for his part, is just following the motions so far, doing night vision checks and reciting his story one last time, explaining how he reached the Canadian border, got transported to Colombia, was aided by members of Hezbollah to reach Venezuela and was eventually taken to Iraq by members of Al Qaeda. "Join Al Qaeda, see the world," one of the special ops team members quips.

By this time, Saul has joined the party at the CIA. Brody steps away from the team to pray as the sun sets, while Saul, watching the screens, tells everyone to get ready.

"Stand by, people, it's show time," he says.

NEXT: 'A problem with the drone? That's a good start.'

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