If your heart was pounding at the end of tonight's episode, you're not alone. I was pumping my right fist in the air, at the edge of my seat, with my left palm against my forehead. And needless to say, my jaw was wide open.
Because wow, just wow, what an episode. What a penultimate episode for the season. (Speaking of which, just FYI: Showtime does not post screeners for Homeland's final episodes of the season, hence tonight's delay. Same goes for next week.)
The show did what it does well -- deliver twists -- but more important, it did so with what it does best: spotlight each of its character's flaws while pushing them to move the action. I've grumbled about its shaky treatment of Carrie, Saul, and Brody this season, but tonight's hour used them all without making any of their scenes feel overkill or unnecessary. Thrills and characters -- that's what we need.
Sure, it had some usual Homeland-esque holes, but this was overall a sharp hour. I think it's thanks to three components: a) having Carrie, Brody, and Saul never in the same place at the same time and therefore upping the anxiety of not knowing what each one is up to, b) using Javadi as a fleshed-out character beyond simply being the bloodthirsty Big Bad, and c) introducing characters that were essential to the story and had motives of their own. Oh, and the shots of Morocco-as-Tehran were certainly beautiful, much better than last week's hazy terrain.
We began with Saul, who's hastily making his way to Alan Bernard, the, well, "greaseball who f--ked my wife," as Saul puts it. He's there to ask Bernard a favor (more like demand it, actually), in which Bernard will talk to the Israeli Mossad for help in the Brody operation in Iran, seeing as the original CIA support team couldn't cross the border with Brody. "No one wants you here, not Mossad, not me," Saul growls at Bernard as Bernard cowers in his cell. "Do everyone a favor. Make this happen." And he does, as we see later.
Brody, meanwhile, is on tape again, this time recording the "truth" about his journey for Javadi, who will deliver the message to Akbari, Brody's target. The former Marine is impatient with having to repeat his answers to Javadi, but Javadi coolly asks him to repeat his story, one in which Brody glosses over his time in Caracas and claims an imam got him out. Brody says this with a straight face, and looks almost proud to say that he's the one who bombed Langley -- "their heart," he says to Javadi -- but Javadi replies with a scowl. "You think what, we like traitors here?" he tests Brody. "No," Brody responds, and then puts his head in his hands. "I told you, I just want asylum. I just want to rest."
From there we meet Brunette Carrie, scarf around her head as she enters a hotel and grabs her key. She's looking over her shoulder every other second, nervously glancing at everyone around her. As soon as she's shown to her room and the bellboy leaves, she hurries off...
...and ends up at the home of Fara's uncle in Tehran, whom Fara promised she would talk to about helping Carrie. He looks worried, and doesn't answer when she asks if he has something for her. Carrie notices the opened package and begins to confront him, but he's going first. "Tell me what's going on," he says.
Carrie outlines the plan: He's just helping the CIA operation and cannot know every detail, for his own protection. "I'm a friend of your niece's," Carrie says again, trying to appeal to him. "So she's CIA too, working against your country," he answers.
"Working for her country," Carrie corrects him. "She trusted you to understand that." He finally hands her the phone he took from the package, and courteously asks if she needs anything else. Carrie doesn't answer, but we know what she's thinking: She'll likely need him to help again once Brody's in play.
NEXT: "We need to be sure we can trust him before we let the world see him."