Homeland, ‘Good Night’ review: Bad luck or bad gum?

“There’s no fresh side. One side’s sweaty, the other’s just dirty.” 

The next place in the Homeland journey is actually where it all started—Brody is in Iraq, four miles from the border with Iran but only a satellite image away from Carrie.

In the same way, after the hate of two weeks ago and the near-love of last week, it’s more of the same for the viewers this week. We’re back where it all started, and it’s fine that way.

But boy did it take long to get there.

In the late part of this third season, showrunner Alex Gansa has apparently decided to simplify the storyline. It’s worked out for the better, but the problem is that it took us a lot longer than we might have wished and that we wasted too much time looking into the haggard eyes of a lovelorn teenager.

As improbable as it sounds, Majid Javadi (played by Shaun Toub) is now a CIA asset. That’s where we’re at, and Showtime has finally embraced it. There may not be a “fresh side” to this third season, but at last the showrunners have taken the one side—and pursuing one side, which may ridiculously far-fetched, is still better than treading water. We’ve known since ‘Gerontion‘ that the Beard at the head of the CIA would bring regime change to Iran, or that others would die trying to bring this for him, and that’s how we’ve rolled.

But all is not well in the Homeland universe.

I’ve turned on Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes). I don’t know whether it’s been obvious up to this point, but there it is—she’s dead to me, because somewhere she somehow decided that it would be wise to submit her unborn child to a steady diet of alcohol, redheads and lithium. (Hey, nothing against redheads!) In season two, she proved that she was almost willing to give everything up for Brody. Somehow, Brody’s own baby falls lower in her eyes. Booooooooooo!

In the same way that it happened to me for Dana Brody earlier this season, I’ve resolved to simply make jokes about everything Carrie does. It’s too bad that I don’t believe her anymore, because her character was my favourite for the first half of Homeland. She always had a life that was synonymous of work, but she hasn’t been good at her job for about 15 episodes and now you can’t even excuse it by pointing to Brody—the new marine is in the middle of what just about may be a suicide mission.

Speaking of Sgt. Nicolas Brody (played by Damian Lewis), he seemed almost eager to carry on with the suicide part of this mission when he decided to run, head first, across those 300 yards to Iran. He darted and left everyone else feeling a little like Fruit from The Wire. “Why you got to go and fuck with the program?” The plan was for him to leave along with the Bearded Bunch, but he couldn’t do it, not so close to the prize, so he stayed behind and carried foward. And now he finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun. Now, he finds himself with no choice but to “go to Tehran.”

Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) has been the most ambitious one this season and so far he’s escaped unscathed. Maybe you can’t lose if you don’t play, but he’s really more like Omar. “The game is out there,” he thinks, “and it’s either play or get played.” Saul has his new rookie in Fara, his protégé in Carrie, his wife in Mira and his love in the CIA—he’s got it all. That his wacko plans come this close of sending him and a slew of others on a direct flight to Belize has no importance. It doesn’t and, as a result, Saul is “still in the game” like Carrie says.

I made it clear on Twitter what I expected with ‘Good Night,’ and I wasn’t disappointed.

Showtime decided to get back to some of the things that once made Homelandone of the best experiences on television—in this case, the network has let Peter Quinn (played by Rupert Friend) do Peter Quinn things.

My biggest regret with the third season is that the show hasn’t gone all-in in examining whether the risk is worth the reward for an agency like the CIA. Whether a possible regime change in Iran, as implausible as it may be, is worth putting the lives of so many in danger. It’s only implied, for example in scenes like the dialogue between Carrie and Fara Sherazi (played by Nazanin Boniadi).

In that scene, the veteran agent asks the rookie to put her family at risk, because Carrie herself would do it. Yes, Carrie, we know. You would put the life and health of your unborn child at risk if it means one last kiss with Brody, or one last mission for him. But just because Carrie would do it doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. Saul would, too, but why wouldn’t he? The women in his lifekeep on coming back for more despite the fact that they are never better than second behind the CIA.

Here, it’s not Carrie who needs to put her family at risk. It’s Fara. And of course, Carrie will manage to turn her into an asset because that’s what she does best. You can see the grinds turning and turning in Fara’s head, and I bet that she will have accepted to put her uncle’s family at the CIA’s disposal in the next episode. And that this one time it will all work out fine, so Fara will feel better about it and she will even confront her father about it. And then Carrie will ask her again in season 4, this time whether she could ask her distant cousin to accommodate operative X, and that’s where it will all go wrong. And Fara will cry and be mad at Carrie, who will pay her no mind because she will only be looking for that next place and that next step toward securing agency asset Y in country Z.

See? I’ve got it all mapped out, and if it does unfold that way I’m alright with it. I just need one moment in Homeland where one character asks LOUDLY whether it’s all worth it. Sure, we had Detective Johnson in ‘Gerontion,’ but he’s gone A.W.O.L. since he questioned Quinn. Like a game of tag, it’s now Quinn who’s it. But because he’s too much of a soldier, or whatever, Quinn has gone back to following orders and let go of his insecurities over the mission. Bah. Stand up for what you believe in, Quinn! You’re #myguyyy.

‘Good Night’ ends when the two CIA assets meet each other, though Javadi first introduces the barrel of his gun to Brody. And, hear me out here, here’s to hoping that Javadi makes a mess on the dress shirt of the CIA or throws a wrench in that pristine plan of Saul’s. The CIA may have Fara’s family on location, but Javadi has millions and millions of dollars to wreak havoc.  Saul and Carrie have operated unpunished in this third season. They may have messed up, mightily too, but what has it really cost them? They still have their job and their family. Saul and Carrie have it a little too perfect at home, let’s make things messy.