‘Homeland’ Review: Brody at Zero Dark Thirty

By  · Published on December 2nd, 2013

‘Homeland’ Review: Brody at Zero Dark Thirty

“Good Night” was another transitional episode. Last week’s “One Last Time” had Brody shuttled from Venezuela to D.C. to Iraq, while “Good Night” focuses on the difficult border crossing from Iraq to Iran, where the former Marine is to kill General Akbari, the head of Tehran’s intelligence agency. Saul’s plan thereafter is that his “asset,” Majid Javadi, take over and work with the CIA, creating peace on earth and goodwill toward men in the season’s final two episodes just in time for Christmas.

Though there were a few obligatory thinkpieces about the similarities between Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty when Kathryn Bigelow’s film about Osama bin Laden’s assassination came out last year, the two have never felt overtly similar until last night’s hour. Switching back and forth between the unpredictability on the field, the frustration within the control room, and the various political maneuverings to cover one’s own ass in the higher echelons of power in case things go south, “Good Night” borrowed liberally from Zero Dark Thirty’s structure to construct a suspenseful, poignant narrative out of what is basically filler material.

With Carrie and Saul on the sidelines this week, the character work and the action came from Brody and his two doomed handlers. After a quick panic attack at the beginning of the mission, when the CIA killed several Iraqi police officers to avoid legal wrangling, Brody entered Soldier Mode, determined to complete his mission while bonding with his comrades in arms.

The quick little character sketches from childhood dreams and macho-posturing, especially from the Texan Azizi (Donnie Keshawarz), were particularly great. Despite his obvious competitiveness, Azizi has a knack for putting Brody at ease. “A bit late in the game for your vagina to chime in,” he drawls when Brody gets the jitters about the mission. Later, he’s admits a weakness: “All I wanted to do was ride bulls… but my nuts couldn’t take the beating.” When the car that they’re driving in hits a road mine, flies into the air, and Azizi loses his leg, it adds a weightiness and an urgency to the proceedings. It’s unlikely, but I hope he’ll return to the show in some way. In a Darwinian setting like Washington where everything is a dick-measuring contest, Azizi is at least open about what he’s doing and why.

Also affecting is Brody’s partner in the border-crossing, Turani (Jared Ward), who all but pledges to become a martyr for the mission. In the small holding cell they share once they’re captured by Iranian forces, Turani requests, “You were tortured. Tell me what to expect.” Brody’s answer is none too comforting: “Expect to break.” Turani hopes he’ll hold out for however long it takes Brody to assassinate General Akbari, but he’s never given a chance to prove himself. Javadi enters the room, seems to immediately sniff out the CIA’s complex scheme, and, either in retaliation to Saul or for his own expediency, unceremoniously shoots Turani in the head. Whatever Javadi’s motivations, it’s a cruelly nonchalant send-off for a noble man.

Back at Langley, Sen. Lockhart seems to have given up all pretense of ever coordinating operations with Saul. Saul has become to Lockhart what Carrie is to him – a brilliant rogue whose affiliation with the CIA merits questioning, but is probably desirable at the end of the day. When it seemed that the infiltration operation with Brody would have to be aborted because of Azizi’s blown-off leg, Lockhart seems genuinely sorry that Saul’s plan didn’t work. It’s an anticlimactic end to the tension between the two grizzlies, but I’m glad it’s over, as Lockhart was becoming a one-note scold.

And over at Soap Opera Land, Carrie still hasn’t revealed to Brody her pregnancy (I guess the show’s saving it for the finale), but Quinn discovers it through his reportable-to-HR deed of looking at her medical records while she’s incapacitated. Creep.