Homeland: “Big Man in Tehran” Season 3 Episode 11 Review

Photo Credit: http://www.welovesoaps.net/2013/12/homeland-big-man-in-tehran-sneak-peek.html

I’m still not sold on Brody’s second act, but this episode provided quite the adrenaline rush.

I’ve spent a lot of time comparing this season to season 1. It’s hard not to. Homeland‘s first outing proved to be such a singular triumph that it was so surprising when the show jumped the shark the following year. This season has been all about getting the characters out of the corners they were backed into, and returning the show to its former glory. Critics and fans alike talk a lot about the show’s layered characterization and the brilliant way it develops relationships between its central players. This may be a major tentpole for the show, but I think there’s something else that makes it so unique–something that’s been largely absent from this season: genuine thrills.

I’m not just talking about fast-paced action or flashy twists. I’m referring to that intense, sweaty-palmed, heart-racing anxiety that comes from watching something wild and unpredictable. Back in season 1, Homeland had such a hold over my emotions that I would watch each episode with bated breath. The finale, “Marine One,” was so extreme that I’m pretty sure my hands were shaking during several scenes. That kind of excitement is hard to fake. It comes from real, honest writing that brings about climaxes in an organic way, instead of merely manufacturing OMG-type moments.

This week, Homeland proved it still has a few tricks up its sleeve. Once Brody was on the ground in Tehran, a sense of uncertainty began to kick in. Saul’s plan relied on so many pieces being executed so precisely, that I knew something could go wrong at any moment. I realized what was going to happen as soon as the guards left Brody alone with General Akbari, but by then it was too late. I was way too swept up in the moment, and could only watch–with bated breath, of course–as Brody murdered Akbari and then rang Carrie for help. It was a genuine thrill, and something I’d forgotten I missed so much from this show.

Before I get ahead of myself, I should say that the few heightened scenes, while enjoyable, do not redeem the wrongs of this season. Yes, I found myself invested in Brody’s mission and his now seemingly impossible escape. But only briefly. As the credits rolled, I asked myself, “Now what?” What is the show going to do if it manages to get Brody out alive? Where is he going to go? Are he and Carrie just going to settle down and raise their child? I know that sound ridiculous, but so does another season of Brody on the run and Carrie moping around at his absence. This show may have shown some serious flare this week, but if it really wants to impress it’s going to need to take some bigger risks. Namely, killing off Brody.

It also needs to do some work on Carrie. Seriously, what was up with her this week? I’m really disliking how eager she is to lay everything on the line for someone who isn’t even an interesting character anymore. Her phone conversation with Brody outside the Mosque was completely absurd. Maybe I’m alone here, but I am not interested in watching a show with the two of them and a baby on the run from the government. Not only is it implausible, but it’s miles away from what Homeland initially set out to create. Carrie standing up for what she believes in is one thing, but blatantly defying the CIA at every turn is just something I didn’t sign up to see.

Overall, this episode was definitely an improvement from last week. I doubt the finale will be able to fix all of this season’s problems, but now I think it will at least be a very compelling how of television. Grade: B

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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