On paper, this is the Homeland we’ve all been waiting for. Brody returns, meets everyone again, and then is sent to Iran to carry out his part in phase two of Saul’s master plan to topple the Iranian government. In reality, it wasn’t the crescendo I’d imagined it would turn out to be. It was understated, underplayed and, if I’m honest, underwhelming. I wanted more drama, a couple of obstacles thrown in the way at least. What we get instead is a very straightforward filler episode, to quickly tie up a load of loose ends before we get into the main thrust of the season, the final quarter, the endzone. “One Last Time” was the writers quickly clearing the table and removing any distractions from what will hopefully be an explosive final three episodes.
That a large portion of this episode was effectively a training montage was a bit annoying. Glossing over everything that Brody and Carrie have been through together up to now wasn’t a slap in the face necessarily, more just a bit sad. I really liked that moment they shared when Brody was lying on the bed, facing away from her. He had to work up the courage to turn and face her, only to turn away again when she reached out to him. But after that? Nothing. No pregnancy revelations, no declarations of love, not even an acknowledgement of how weird their situation is now.
Just … nothing.
That didn’t really ring true with me. I didn’t want a blazing argument per se, I just wanted something to hang my hat on. I’m hoping it’s a deliberate tactic to keep narrative focus on Saul’s plan and to represent how emotionally bereft both Brody and Carrie are after everything that’s gone on, rather than them not realising that something has to break at some point between them. The moment in the car would have been perfect, when Carrie tells Brody about what’s happened with Dana. That’s when they should have really had it out – a nice long (ten minutes?) scene in which Brody and Carrie really hash it out, ending up either crying or making out in the back seat. It should have been there, but it wasn’t.
It’s easy to forget, through the fun of season two and the Langley bombing, back to the suicide vest of season one, that none of this would have happened had Brody not been kidnapped in Iraq. His is the tragedy of Homeland. This show is about the fragility of life, and how easily everything gets destroyed. Brody has lost his entire life – you know you’re in dire straits when your only path to redemption involves being taken hostage by al-Qaeda – as has Carrie. Saul, depending on how this mission pans out, has sealed his fate either as a hero or disgrace. Even Quinn, whom the show has casually destroyed almost in passing, will never be the same after what the agency has driven him to do to further the cause. That adds another layer to whatever unfolds next: the knowledge that whatever happens, nobody will ever truly recover or ever truly be redeemed.