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“In the unlikely event that anything goes wrong…” says Saul at the start of this week’s Homeland, temporarily forgetting which TV series he’s in. After all, this is Homeland, a place where anything that can go wrong will go wrong – and then get someone pregnant.
The stage is set, then, for some extreme screw-ups. And screw up things do. The surprising thing is where they do it: Episode 11 (Good Night) takes place almost entirely in the field, a nocturnal mission to get Brody across the border into Iran.
Things start slowly, moving the black ops team into position while Saul’s beard and the others nervously watch via satellite. That means some enjoyable politicking from Saul and Senator Lockhart behind closed doors – in an alternative universe, they have their own hilarious sitcom as a married couple – while in front of everyone Claire Danes does her best panic face pretending not to be worried about her man behind enemy lines.
Naturally, it’s only a matter of time before the covert mission is uncovered. Enemy troops arrive and shots are fired, sending everything into disarray. In the middle of the fray, Damian Lewis gets to show a side of Brody we’ve never seen before: the marine he was before Season One of Homeland started. Jumping from nervous breakdown to reckless determination, he more than justifies Nicholas’ return to our screens, bringing emotional depth and visceral tension to the battle.
Making his Homeland debut, veteran Dexter director Keith Gordon films the action with a familiar handheld immediacy, but it’s the context that makes it so effective rather than the shaky-cam style; in any other spy thriller, this would be business as usual. In Homeland, where set pieces are rare and usually last no more than 10 minutes, this hour-long bout of intense action is borderline claustrophobic, gripping with the (literally) dark realism of Zero Dark Thirty.
“If the unlikely event that anything goes wrong,” says Saul, his beard twitching more and more as his ambitious plans collapse around him, “we’ve got it covered.” The same seems true of this series’ writers following that dreadful opening run. Who knew they still had it in them? Who knew that Brody could still surprise us?
“I don’t even want to know what that means,” replies Lockhart. We, on the other hand, can’t wait to find out.
Homeland Season 3 is available watch on Netflix UK as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.
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