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

It turns out the soldiers are from an Iranian military unit, and after a few tense minutes as Brody recites his lines -- "My name is Nicholas Brody. I am wanted in America for the bombing of the CIA, and I request asylum in your country" -- they capture Brody and Bravo. The CIA receives notice that Iran has picked up two prisoners, and Carrie smiles at the news at Quinn, who smiles back.

The scene shifts to Carrie visiting Saul's office, where her mentor has been sitting at his desk, still pondering the apparent failure of the mission. She reports that Alpha is stable, and that "there's something else," she says, pausing before breaking into a smile again. "Brody made it across."

Saul blinks at her, confused. "He made a last second run for it," she explains. "He's okay?" Saul asks. "Yes," Carrie replies, looking the happiest she's been all season. "He made it -- and you, Saul, are still in the game."

"I'll be damned," he says.

Things aren't so picture-perfect in Iran, though, as Brody and Bravo sit together. Bravo is scared, having been picked up when Brody was the only one who was supposed to cross. "You were tortured," he asks Brody. "Just tell me what to expect."

"Expect to break," Brody responds, and tells the soldier how he lost track of time and held out for about seven days.

Meanwhile, Carrie's moved on to her next mission: Find a way to extract Brody when the time comes. She turns to Fara, praising the new officer first for helping recruit Javadi before launching into her request. "Javadi's only half the plan," she says. "There's another half you weren't aware of."

But Fara resists immediately as Carrie explains they need a safehouse for Brody to go to when it's time to leave Tehran, and that Fara's uncle in Tehran can provide the space. "You're asking me to put my family at extreme risk. You know you are," Fara says. "You forget I've seen firsthand how fast an operation can go sideways. Tell the truth. You would never ask your own family to do this."

Carrie pauses. "I might," she replies, earnestly looking at Fara, who shrinks from Carrie's gaze.

The last scene of the episode shifts back to Brody and Bravo in their cell being greeted by a visitor: Javadi, who leers at Brody as Brody launches back into his rehearsed lines about requesting asylum. "I know who you are," Javadi says. "Are you ready?"

"Ready for what?" Brody asks. "To go with me to Tehran," Javadi responds. Brody is confused and asks what will happen to Bravo if Brody's the only one heading to Tehran.

Javadi doesn't blink as he pulls out his gun and shoots the soldier in the head. Brody screams, launching himself at Javadi, as Javadi simply points his gun at Brody instead. "Calm down, calm down," he says, forcing Brody to stop. Brody furiously watches Javadi, and faced with no other choice, listens to his next command. "Now, we go to Tehran," Javadi says.

Again, Brody makes it out alive as everyone around him falls because he's, well, lucky. The fallen include Bravo, the soldier we learned last week has a young family at home, and in fact, every soldier we've met on the special ops team who has had close contact with Brody has been sympathetically portrayed with back stories or has appeared likable in limited screen time. Maybe I'm the only one here, but I can't help but feel a bit cheated by the writers -- it's as if they set up these characters just to dispose of them for emotional impact with this mission.

So overall, I found the episode a mixed bag: The mission lent itself to some powerful moments in the battlefield, but a lot of it also felt forced. As one tense sequence played out after the next, it made each one lessen in impact in a way, and I found myself questioning how the soldiers reached Alpha and Brody so quickly, and how Bravo was able to navigate around the gunfire to get to Brody in less than 15 seconds. (The darkness didn't help the look of the shots either. It's almost a missed opportunity to shoot everything in Morocco but shoot at night with the low visibility, even if it makes sense to carry out an intelligence op during the night.)

I do think the scenes at the CIA were strong, and it was wise to concentrate the camera on the individual reactions of Carrie and Saul, the two people who care the most about the op succeeding. Claire Danes didn't need to say half her lines as she conveyed her worry, and Mandy Patinkin, as always, did the most with his silent scenes -- in this episode, that meant the one by the elevator and the one of him at his desk, anticipating the op as he reached for his lucky gum.

Still, perhaps you disagree with my lukewarm assessment -- perhaps you loved the entire episode, or perhaps you hated it all. Were you pleased with the hour revolving around the mission, without any B-plots or scenes outside the CIA or the op? What did you think about the use of the special ops soldiers? Do you think Brody will make it? Will he listen to Javadi? (My guess is no.) Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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