Episode Title: "I'll Fly Away"
Story by: Howard Gordon & Chip Johannessen
Teleplay by: Chip Johannessen
Director: Michael Cuesta
Previously on "Homeland":
This may be the point that “Homeland” descended into self-parody. To be sure, there are definitely good moments in "I'll Fly Away" and other strong story elements. But this week’s episode of of “Homeland” resembled Anne Hathaway’s “Saturday Night Live” skit more closely than anyone would have guessed.
Full spoilers are ahead for this week’s episode. So keep reading only if you have security clearance and you’re sure that Saul isn’t spying on you.
It’s completely understandable why Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He’s being blackmailed by the CIA into continuing his association with Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) to stop a terrorist attack while dealing with a failing marriage and a daughter who wants to confess to a vehicular homicide that she played a part in. Also, the terrorists will kill him and his family if they learn that he’s betrayed them.
Because Jessica (Morena Baccarin) doesn’t know the truth, she assumes Brody can simply tell the CIA to backoff and let him focus on his family. But they own him. Brody’s only chance is that the CIA holds up their end of the deal and lets him escape relatively consequence free. And he’s rapidly losing hope for any kind of happy ending.
By the time that Brody makes his meeting with Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson), he’s behaving erratically and to the alarm of his CIA handlers, Brody informs Roya that he’s “out” and he refuses her attempt to sway back.
All of which means that it’s time for Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) to do something crazy… like convince Virgil (David Marciano) to kill the surveillance on Brody while she spirits him away to a secluded hotel. So when David Estes (David Harewood) inevitably chewed out Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), all I could think of was the fake Saul’s line from “SNL”: "She's only let me down every time that I've trusted her."
Then “Homeland” tops that moment later in the episode when Saul, Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) and the CIA tech guys listen in as Brody and Carrie have very loud sex in their hotel room. I swear, if Dana (Morgan Saylor) had just randomly wandered into the room it would have been just like the “SNL” skit.
I actually didn’t think that the “SNL” skit was that funny, but it’s clearly not wrong about the show’s tropes. The twisted relationship between Brody and Carrie is part of what makes this series work, but this definitely felt like a twist too far. For someone who isn’t even a part of the CIA anymore, Carrie is getting an unbelievable amount of rope to hang herself with. Even after Carrie gets Brody to approach Roya again, she almost foils the investigation at least two additional times. And for what? I get that Carrie loves Brody, but where is the limit here?
Despite all of that, there was at least one really terrific moment between Brody and Carrie in which she confessed that it was her hope that capturing Abu Nazir or foiling his plan would redeem both of them. Carrie said that it would make everything that happened to them worthwhile if it only they could pull this off.
For a moment, even Carrie seems to realize that her hope is more of a delusion than anything else. But she remains fiercely protective of Brody once they are again in the CIA’s sphere of influence. And when Brody is seemingly endangered by Roya and one of the terrorists, Carrie practically freaks out and disregards Quinn’s direct orders to stay back.
However, there are no consequences for Carrie’s actions this week, as a helicopter spirits Brody away to a meeting with Abu Nazir himself. Yes, that’s right. “Homeland’s” version of Osama Bin Laden shaved his facial hair and snuck into the U.S. to personally oversee his latest terrorist attack.
Now that I think about it, that might be a shark jumping moment as well.
Bringing Nazir to the U.S. is a very “24” move; which Howard Gordon used on that series as a way to get the ultimate bad guy within reach of Jack Bauer by the end of the day’s story. I suspect that the same goal is in play here and that Nazir’s presence means that his story will be wrapped up definitively by the end of the season.
But it has to be said that bringing Nazir to the U.S. and directly involving him with the final attack is pushing credibility a lot farther than “Homeland” normally does. I’m willing to go along with it and ride the rest of the season out. However, it still strikes me as an almost silly direction to go in.
As much as I’ve hated the subplot of Dana and her boyfriend, Finn (Timothée Chalamet) running down a woman in the street, it’s at least given Morgan Saylor and Diego Klattenhoff a chance to show off a broader range of emotions. As Mike, Klattenhoff has been at a disadvantage all season because his character is far behind the audience about what’s really going on. That tends to make Mike’s scenes difficult to sit through.
This was a much better use for Mike than his inelegant investigation into Brody. Mike was the surrogate father figure to Dana and Chris (Jackson Pace); which gave Dana a legitimate reason to seek sanctuary in his home. While there, Mike admits that he had a hard time watching Jessica and her children reunite with their father because he already loved them like they were his own family. It’s a small moment of emotional honesty that made Mike seem more fully realized than he was before.
Regarding Dana, she’s clearly feeling guilty about what happened to the woman whom she and Finn killed. But if we’re being honest here, what Dana is really looking for is absolution and forgiveness. I think that Dana wants to turn herself in because that’s the only way she’ll forgive herself and start to move on. Dana feels like she needs to be punished, but that feeling is more for her sake than the victims’ benefit.
It could also be that Dana has a sense of justice that is unfulfilled by everyone around her except for her mother. However, the victim’s daughter tells Dana in no uncertain terms to keep her mouth shut or else she’ll jeopardize the payoff she’s set to receive for keeping quiet about her mother’s death. Someone working for Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) or his wife, Cynthia (Talia Balsam) have already made the problem go away long before Dana can even think about going to the police on her own. Whatever this is, it’s not justice.
Dana gets a measure of revenge against Brody when she tells her mother that she saw him with Carrie at the police station. Needless to say, Jessica is not going to take that well and we’re a bit overdue for another Jessica vs. Carrie verbal smackdown. And Brody’s in for a browbeating of his own for lying about that. Provided he survives his current predicament… but we all know that he will.
The main reason that “Homeland” was so amazing earlier this season is that it fearlessly swept away a lot of the elements of the Brody and Carrie cat-and-mouse game in favor of the current storyline where they’re reunited and working together. I still believe in that story and this has been a really terrific season of television.
"I'll Fly Away" came very close to knocking “Homeland” off course from its strong heading. But only the subsequent episodes will tell us if this was an aberration or a sign of things to come.