‘Homeland’ Review: Now Full-On Channeling Dr. Evil

By  · Published on November 25th, 2013

“One Last Time” was a great acting showcase for Damian Lewis, who, having appeared only thrice so far this season, really needs to pad his portfolio to earn another Emmy nod. Other than that, last night’s episode was about as rote as they come, serving as a necessary transitional interlude between Brody the Junkie to Brody the Badass Marine so the season can propel toward its final espionage plot.

Which, it turns out, is another convoluted assassination mission. Believing he has Javadi under his thumb, Saul has Brody dried out and back in fighting mode, so the latter can become besties with Javadi’s boss and eventually get close enough to kill him. Then Javadi will be installed as one of the most powerful men in Iran while being an American double agent. It’s all a bit Dr. Evil, no? Is Brody going to attack Javadi’s boss by hurling a shark with a laser attached to its head at him?

During his trip from Venezuela to D.C., we see Brody do Transpotting, then Rocky, then the usual Nicholas Brody Homecoming Tour. On the itinerary: flirting with Carrie, reassuring his daughter that he’s not the man the media says he is, and having no idea what the bigwigs who use him as an important but ultimately disposable tool have in store for him. Well, he has a better picture of what the CIA has planned for him this time – kill Javadi’s boss, possibly get killed for that himself – but he’s still in the dark about one other crucial matter.

And Carrie doesn’t tell him, even though it would have strengthened Brody’s resolve to come back from Iran. After Dana’s rant about how she hates him and never wants to see him again and would he get out of her room god can’t a teenage girl have some privacy oh my god he’s ruining her life, Brody should know he has at least one child who doesn’t hate him, no? But Carrie keeps this un-abortable baby a secret – then smokes cigarettes to boot – which means she’s not dealing with that fetus at all. Which is fine, but I wish Homeland could find a way to deal with it by cluing us into the fact, for example, for why she decided to keep it – given how impulsive she is, Carrie would need a strong overriding reason to decide to carry the baby to term – and what she’s thinking might be her options once it slides out of her body.

Outside of the Carrie-Brody bubble, we have Lockhart getting caught red-handed sending an Israeli spy to the Acting Director of the CIA’s house and copying files from his work computer. Whaaa? So Lockhart hired Alain Bernard, or whatever his real name is, to seduce Saul’s wife, waited for months until a terrorist group killed 200 CIA agents and Saul got promoted to head the agency, then sent Bernard back into Saul’s house to recover some files on a mission Lockhart doesn’t approve of? Unless Lockhart knew the terrorist attack was coming – or he was the bomber himself — this makes no damn sense.

Yet the super-weak Brody story, the grating reappearance of Dana, and the utter continuity incompetence of the Lockhart reveal were not as big disappointments as the fight between Carrie and Saul at the end of the hour. Their relationship wasn’t really the focus of “One Last Time,” and yet the writers return once again – as they have nearly episode this season – to the well of those two characters melodramatically yelling at each other about how the other has screwed them over. This week, they hash out some trust issues – he has to trust her (to take Brody to the airport), they can’t get through the difficult mission ahead of them while sniping at each other, blah blah – and it doesn’t register emotionally at all.

Each time there’s a new strain in the Carrie-Saul relationship – though it’s really the same old strains – the characters get cheapened a little bit more.