Homeland Season 3, Episode 11 Watch: Never Trust A Crystal Ashtray

Has the long game this whole season of Homeland been to turn Brody towards a redemption song? Or is this all about saving something else (mainly face, or Saul’s job, or Carrie’s dignity) entirely? While I’m still not sure the Brodmeister can or will come out of this season alive, the stage is certainly set for our "Big Man in Tehran" to go [out] big or go home.

With the stakes reflected literally and figuratively in the mirror (and just like that, baby’s got bump), Carrie and Brody’s motivations were murky and unclear going into the action. Was Carrie excited or scared about her impending Brody-baby? Would Brody be able to kill Akbari? Were both willing to go the distance for one another? Would anybody actually just do what he or she was told, for once? And what, good lord, would be Saul’s motivation this week?

Seriously though, what was going on with Saul? (Other than the fact that he still seems off, which gives me nothing but unrelenting anxiety.) Well, for one thing, he’s wrapped Mira’s side dish up into the action, having leveraged Alain Bernard’s freedom for a few guys on the ground in Tehran to help Carrie with the Brody extraction — Mission de Holyshit. More on that later, but already knew that, didn’t you? You’ve very clever, you are! — something he obliged our good man Berenson.

But Senator Lockhart and even Dar Adal were on that dubious tip about the whole ordeal. So you know they must’ve been ripping Saul a new one in those six days we didn’t see between Brody declaring to the world his faux-role as the Langley bomber and asylum-seeking wannabe citizen of Iran. And Saul’s come undone: pissed at Carrie, afraid of what’s at stake to lose, and the credibility of his life’s work at stake.

So now all we’re left with are questions: will this mission elevate or assassinate Saul’s career? (Ooh, look how that last sentence just sits there, with all of its melodramatic airs about it. It’s basically clutching your pearls for you.) And is it possible Saul — who received a call from Javadi describing a bleak situation gone bleaker — has already put into play a scheme to take Brody down at all costs?

Oh, Brody; he of most questionable and hazy allegiances. That ramshackle divining rod he wilily angles about to call the motivational shots was as easy to interpret this episode as those things are effective in finding ghosts in real life. His was a trajectory of Rollercoaster Tycoon proportions. Following that whole thwarted-assassination-attempt hi-to-byesies with Akbari (no wonder he’s the leader he’s such an emotive hand-waver) in the middle of the street, he’s immediately pushed into the home of Nasreen. That’s right, she of the creepiest-pronunciation-of-Nicholas-clan, house Abu Nazir. The widow had been brought on to shake Brody down, get an idea for whether he could be trusted by Akbari.

And that’s where Brody’s own play came into play. Brody played us all like a fiddle this whole episode — at least that’s how it seems thus far. Knowing that it’s Homeland, I am all too aware of the quintuple-play-double-crossing crazy-cray that is capable, looming in the hypothetical background, being propped up on the backs of season two. If your relationship with the show isn’t hanging in the balance at every twist and turn you’re not doing it right. But still, from the outset it seemed to be that Brody made himself the center of attention in order to gain access, trust, and physical proximity to Akbari. Who, surprisingly, met his end at the back of a crystal ashtray and a pillow, because Brody is the Macgyver of murder (though in the world of American justice he’s not alone: just look at Quinn!), or at least in the right place at the right time (for once in his life).

Oh and public service announcement, you guys? Never own a crystal ashtray. It’s for your own safety. They’ve been proven time and time again — throughout all of movies, television, and probably a racy crime thriller or two — to be formidable killers. Stay safe: just say no to crystal ashtrays. Or at least those of you are playing at high-level enough shenanigans that someone might want to bludgeon you to death.

But, either because we’re A.) an unforgivingly heartless asshole, or B.) a conspiracy theorist at heart, we can’t help but wonder: was this Brody’s plan the whole time, really? Or was he just doing what he do? Namely, dart around like a fish, playing prey until he saw an easy opportunity to be predator. As someone who can’t stop talking about wanting Brody dead already, I was surprised to find myself believing that he’s genuinely on that redemption tip. But next week’s finale still remains, and it all depends on Carrie.

Carrie started the episode in a familiar place: somehow dually shocked by and ambivalent regarding the impending (and soon-to-be-unavoidable) future Baby Brody. Or maybe it’s just the morning sickness. Even with all those emotional incidentals sloshing around in the fishbowl that is this season, she still goes to great lengths — including putting Fara’s family (meet Fara's uncle, you guys!) in danger via contraband (read: fancy CIA burner cell phone) — in a risky-at-best plan to extract Brody upon completion of his scheduled murdertimes. It almost as though how Brody will be remembered hangs in the balance of Carrie completing this extraction.

Because, oh wait! It does. Brody really is, at this point, what Carrie makes him. He’s a marine-turned-terrorist-turned-congressman-turned… oh who the fuck knows into a fugitive terrorist seeking asylum in Iran, playing for our team. Who is also, oh yeah, a recently recovered heroine addict. Really gleaming credentials, there, kid. And the doubtshadow created by the pile of dead bodies that trail Brody’s wake looms large — one that feels oddly and all-too-readily forgiven at times by baby momma Mathison. But I suppose therein lies the conundrum: is Brody who Carrie thinks he is or something else entirely?

But I’m digressing. The real point is that the show’s machinations all hinge on Carrie’s opinion of him. And now that’s all come to a head. With the question of ‘will she be able to get Brody out?’ comes the implication of failure: if she doesn’t get him out, how will the world see Nicholas Brody: a terrorist master-manipulator, or a heroic operative that the CIA (and/or Saul, and/or Carrie for that matter) could turn into the redemption story of the century? Brody’s fate will birth (see what I did there?) for who that redemption will be.