Homeland, ‘Big Man in Tehran’ review: Lots of moving parts

“I need to know now that I can trust you.” 

In ‘Big Man in Tehran,’ Brody is, yes, the big man in Tehran. The execution of the CIA’s plan to have a regime change in Iran went awry, and Brody decides to make the most of a bad situation. He becomes the newest puppet of the Iranian government and betrays, once again, the country that he once called home.

Brody stops running in this week’s episode. It turns out that it’s all a con. 

Showrunner Alex Gansa proves in ‘Big Man in Tehran’ that just because “it was always a long shot” doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. The odds are long for everyone involved but, in typical Hunger Games fashion, they are ever “in your favour.”

The odds are long that Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) will see through his plan, and they have been since the inception of this “play” that would bring regime change to Iran.

But perhaps most improbable of all is that after the episode, he’s closer to pulling it off than he was when he seemingly gave up just 300 yards away from Iran. He’s made decision after decision that has led nowhere, or worse, only to see that it’s now just about all worked out. “It’s too dark” and he “can’t see anything,” but he still keeps rolling a 7 since he traveled to Caracas—which isn’t Las Vegas.

The odds are perhaps longest for Sgt. Nicolas Brody (played by Damian Lewis), who embarked on what surely would have to be a suicide mission—killing the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard? We’ve seen lamer ducks get shot down. Maybe he would manage to see the plan come to fruition, but he would surely not live to see Majid Javadi (played by Shaun Toub) replace Danesh Akbari (played by Houshang Touzie), right? Well, it turns out that Brody does neither, at least at first.

Brody realizes that he doesn’t want to run anymore. He has stopped running and, maybe it’s saying it out loud to Javadi that made him realize just how much he had ran, but he can’t continue. He’s at peace with whatever will happen and will not run. If Carrie still wants to run, she’ll do so alone. (More on Carrie in a moment.)

In Tehran, Brody decides to turn a negative into a positive. Considering that he’s already exiled from his family in the USofA, staying in Iran makes sense. Six days pass, and Brody hasn’t run. All seems well, until the President of his former country decides to carry out the “suicide” part of the mission. Just in time, Carrie turns into The Wire‘s Jimmy (“Jimmaaaaaaaaaaay!”) McNulty and understands that Brody’s suicide may be “done to him.” She saves him and, voilà! The mission can carry on.

(Just as an aside, I hate that Showtime has fast-forwarded through those six days of idle Brody. It’s the second time this season, after the training with the Bearded Bunch, that the viewers are left on the outside listening in at what’s happened previously. All signs point to these two instances being bystanders in the LeoRomeo car chase during the first half of season 3. It’s really too bad. Brody and Carrie are boring when they run, not when they stay idle. But them running is all we have.)

The odds are against Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) as well, as she somewhat has decided to stay behind in Tehran for reasons that not even the wunderkind Peter Quinn (played by Rupert Friend) can understand. Carrie, this season, has forever embraced her #RobotCarrie persona, showing compassion only so she can ask for favours afterward.

This season, she’s as insufferable as she’s ever been, but that’s not the problem. Rather, the problem is that she’s always right. By some miracle, luck, or sheer love, Carrie is always proven right. It makes no sense that someone this insubordinate, that someone who really has been a liability at her job for about a season and a half, that someone like this can keep turning up on the right side and not “down that river.” But here we are. Carrie keeps dropping her toast, but it never falls on the buttered side. She’s proving that Homeland is Entourage—no matter how unlikely success is, success will come. That’s not good television, because it’s so unrealistic and Homeland otherwise approximates realism.

One character whose odds are not long is Senator Andrew Lockhart (played by Tracy Letts), and perhaps that’s why he’s come up short so often recently. Some of it his of his own undoing (i.e. the Barbe française affair, with Alan “Alain” Bernard, jumps to mind), but he just may be the unluckiest character in the history of American television. His ascension to the throne seemed all but a formality just three weeks ago, but it’s not such a certain thing anymore. In ‘Big Man in Tehran,’ his descent continues. With yet another victory, one that he wanted no parts of just a minute earlier, Saul can’t win anymore. And Lockhart probably feels like one of those pawns on the Homeland chessboard. “This game is rigged man,” he must probably think. Lockhart is The Wire‘s Bodie. He’s a soldier.

For a while in ‘Big Man in Tehran,’ it looked like the showrunners had brought Homeland back to the game of mystery that made the inaugural season so great. It was impossible to know where Brody was heading, because he had stopped running. He was in Iran, sure, but why? As a patsy? As an asset? As a man trying to survive or one trying to live it to the limit and love it a lot?

By the end of the episode, it’s obvious that the most unlikely love story in the history of modern television will get yet another shot to unfold in that cabin in the woods. If that’s the case, then I hope that season 4 stays away from the forest and that we bid adieu to our two lovebirds and their unborn child forever. Because if not, then I’m not watching.