RSS
Homeland recap: 'Good Night'
A tense thriller of an episode follows Brody as he embarks on a high-stakes mission abroad
A plan so crazy, it probably won't work.
A plan so crazy, it probably won't work. (Kent Smith/SHOWTIME)
N

icholas Brody made it. Despite the heroin addiction, despite the interfering Iraqi police, despite White House intervention and unplanned killings, Brody made it across the border to Iran.

But did anyone really believe he wouldn't?

"Good Night" is a grim episode of Homeland, focused entirely on the black operations designed to make this passage possible. The CIA continues to struggle, and Saul's Grand Plan, in which Brody must kill a top Iranian official, is always falling apart in one way or another. The title "Good Night" comes from the code words the CIA uses when it kills Iraqi locals who may interfere with Brody's attempt to get to Iran under the false pretense of asylum. These stray deaths ensure the mission's success, but they also undercut the broader mission of peace that CIA interim chief Saul Berenson claims he will achieve as part of this assassination plot.

It's a narrative that's in line with Homeland's third season, which has largely been about resolving guilt. In an earlier episode, CIA agent Peter Quinn told his colleague Carrie Mathison how good it felt to confess to two murders he didn't commit in order to get local police off the CIA's back. Quinn has been tortured all season about his complicity in what he sees as CIA injustice, whether that's the desperate straits of Carrie or the child he accidentally killed in the season premiere.

Like Quinn, Brody has now been placed in a situation where he's forced to confess to a crime he didn't commit. (Unless there's an even greater conspiracy we're not aware of yet.) As Iranian forces light up the fields, Brody throws up his hands and shouts, "I am wanted in America for the bombing of the CIA, and I request asylum in your country." But despite his innocence here, Brody has other deaths on his conscience — most notably, the memory of strapping a bomb to his body next to the U.S. vice president. Brody has his share of guilt, which Carrie evoked when pressuring him to go to Iran. Will this false confession allow him some peace about the man he has become?

"Good Night" offers plenty of insight about Brody's commitment to his mission. He's the linchpin of the whole operation. If he fails, it fails. Over the course of the episode's hour, we see an evolution. He is already in the Middle East when the show opens — moody, eating goat with CIA forces. Brody's resolve breaks when the mission first begins to fall apart, as American snipers execute Iraqi police questioning him and a sniper's bullet leaves blood spattered across his face. It's a tough experience for anyone — but recall the hallucinations and withdrawal-induced weakness afflicting the man in last week's episode. No wonder Brody is extra shaken.

The weakness passes. By the episode's final third, Brody's resolve is so hardened that he wants to cross the Iranian border even if the mission is a bust and the CIA is calling it off. Pressure has built against the mission all episode, with the White House taking over and Saul wandering away from the monitors defeated. Unfortunately for Saul (and for loyal viewers), the White House is right to be concerned about the sloppiness of a mission that has become a total mess. "Good Night" succeeds at illustrating the ways Saul's plan can fail. No one wants to cause an international crisis, and there's a good reason the plot is aborted.

But then there's Brody, who refuses to back down so easily. The CIA allows Carrie, from its U.S. agency headquarters, to try to talk Brody down. "You will die over there," she warns him, citing his lack of an exit strategy from Iran now that a firefight has broken out between the CIA agents and local forces. Brody scoffs and says Carrie will find a way to get him home.

Yes, that's unfair, as Carrie tells Brody. But that's the hubris of Brody, a fugitive who has no plan, no family, and no coherent ideology left to drive him. All he has, much like Saul and Carrie, is this mission. Yet Brody was right about Carrie trying to find a way. She goes to Fara, the reluctant Iranian CIA analyst, and asks if Fara's Tehran-dwelling uncle will cooperate in setting up a safe house for Brody. Fara has already dealt with fears this season about her Iranian relatives dying due to her CIA connection, and this latest development raises the unfortunate specter that at least one might.

On top of all this political intrigue, Carrie's pregnancy lurks. Quinn, who learns of it this episode, suggests Carrie should sit this operation out because her judgment may be compromised with her unborn baby's father out in the field. In response, Carrie denies that the baby is Brody's. Is Carrie lying? A recent interview with Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa suggests yes. "When it looks like [the possibility of exonerating Brody] is going to be taken away from her, I think her emotions come into play," Gansa told The Hollywood Reporter in November. "She's carrying Brody's child, and it completely consumes her."

The Homeland finale is just two weeks away, and it seems increasingly likely to take place in Iran. At stake is Brody's extraction plan and his dealings with Iranian intelligence official Majid Javadi, the real mastermind behind the Langley bombing. There are crucial questions left to answer: Whether Javadi will play ball with Brody, and whether that would be enough for Saul's plan to come to fruition. Javadi and Brody come face-to-face at the episode's end, and Javadi has no qualms about killing the agent taken in with Brody. It's not exactly the warmest start to the Brody-Javadi relationship, and is a hint about the tension that will likely follow in the upcoming episodes. Javadi holds all the cards in Iran, and it's an open question whether a man like Javadi will allow Brody the freedom he may need to assassinate Javadi's boss at all.

If the last two seasons are any indication, Homeland has at least one major twist left. Should we expect any CIA moles to be exposed? A surprise turn from Senator Lockhart? A revelation that Brody may actually have coordinated with Javadi to bomb Langley, despite all signs to the contrary? Homeland may have its goofy moments that don't add up, but the drama itself has regained enough momentum to guarantee two final episodes will be worth watching just to find out.

Read more Homeland recaps:

John Hendel writes about technology and media policy on Capitol Hill for Communications Daily. He has published articles for The Atlantic, The Millions, Splitsider, and elsewhere.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week