After sputtering, stalling, and sometimes all together stopping, we thought that Homeland was finally picking up speed on its way to the finale. Not quite. On last night’s episode “One Last Time” we’re once again in build-to-big-finish mode. The show greets us with Carrie Mathison in the hospital post-Quinn shooting her last week, leaving us with the question: is there no other way to stop a person walking toward someplace they shouldn’t be? Carrie seems to agree with Quinn’s course of action; when the doctor says that she’s lucky the wound wasn’t worse, she responds, “No, he’s just a great shot,” with a look on her face that suggests she doesn’t entirely disagree with Quinn’s well-placed bullet.
The most important part of this scene though is the revelation that Carrie is 13 weeks pregnant and that the baby is OK. Usually, a pregnant woman who has just been shot would be concerned with the status of her baby, but not Carrie. Before he leaves the room, the doctor, almost as an afterthought, says, “The baby should be fine. In case, you’re wondering,” making a face that says why-haven’t-you-asked-me-how-your-unborn-baby-is-doing and Carrie making a typical Carrie-face that’s equal parts confusion, consternation, and crazy. (Carrie-face could be a great Halloween mask for those anxious about planning Halloween 2014, just a heads up).
Back to Brody we go, finding him in CIA hands and suffering from a really bad case of withdrawal. In this otherwise emotionally comatose episode, Damian Lewis plays junkie with a heart of gold brilliantly, lending all the sweats and shakes of withdrawal the gravity they deserve. We learn that the CIA needs Brody for one final mission, and Saul doesn’t give Brody much of an option. He visits him saying, “You will do this one last thing.” This means, though, that Brody needs to get clean and in shape faster than normal drug recovery allows. No problem! There’s a physically crippling, hallucination-stirring drug “based on a Nigerian plant” that will really suck for Brody but that will get him back to fighting shape in the few days they have left. Perfect. Brody, of course, does hallucinate and tries to kill himself before being restrained.
This season, as we pointed out before, really is all about Saul. (God, “Saul” reminds us so much of Breaking Bad.) When he learns that Lockhart was the one who had Alan Bernard bug his home computer, Saul storms into his office with an ominous manila envelope (if anyone ever approaches you with an unmarked manila envelope, walk the other way). Inside there are pictures that prove that Lockhart knew Bernard and that he really can’t lie himself out of this one, and Saul, once again, gets what he wants: more time.
The episode’s big deal moment, however, was so underplayed that we wonder if we missed something. Maybe we’re just not in the mood for nuance, but shouldn’t Carrie and Brody’s reunion have been played up a little more? Instead we get Carrie sitting by Brody’s side at the Virginia facility where he’s recovering with Brody slowly turning around when he senses that someone is in the room with him. We do have to give it to Damian Lewis, though, for conjuring a range of facial contortions that revealed that he might have had some inkling as to the Carrie-face (yes, we’re trying to make Carrie-face happen) that would greet him if he just turned around.
So, Carrie and Brody are reunited. Brody is obviously pissed because every time Carrie comes around things get really weird (and dangerous) for him, and Carrie, to assuage his apprehension, does what any good lover and friend would do: she takes Brody to the middle of nowhere motel where Dana now lives and works. That’s shock enough for Brody who agrees to help the CIA with their mission as some sort of “chance at redemption.” What followed was a completely unnecessary sequence tracking Brody’s progression from out-of-shape junkie formerly trapped in Venezuela to fighting machine who, with some tough love and group running, can get back to operational level.
In this episode, where every natural process was inexplicably hastened (is there anyone in charge of pacing at Showtime? There should be someone JUST in charge of pacing at Showtime), Carrie and Brody go from former lovers with a troubled past to flirting mindlessly about Carrie smoking a cigarette. Cool. Brody just wants to see Dana though, so Carrie takes him back to the motel. Dana, in an uncharacteristically normal move, is angry that Brody feels he can just walk back into her life, and she refuses him the warm welcome back he feels he deserves.
The last minutes are a profusion of platitudes. None so silly as the line that Carrie ends the episode with: “See you on the other side.” Here’s to hoping that “One Last Time” was a reference to this being the last slow Homeland episode of this season.