Homeland, Season 3: Episode 9 – “One Last Time”
Written by Barbara Hall
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Airs Sunday nights at 9 on Showtime
From its ominous title to how several characters come out and just say how much Saul’s new play feels like a suicide mission, “One Last Time” sets the stage for what may and should be the end of Sgt. Nicholas Brody on Homeland. There’s plenty of time to muck it up, and Showtime has come out and said they want Damian Lewis to remain a part of this show, but in the event of these writers having autonomy, we may be watching the final episodes of the version of Homeland that has left a lot of people feeling disappointed and disenchanted. At the very least, I can’t imagine the Brody family playing much more of a role now that Dana has figuratively disowned her entire family and has no aspirations towards reconciliation with Nick. Even though I still think Homeland‘s third season has been a very good season of television, it could use a genetic and generic shakeup either to get back to a more traditional espionage thriller or to test some of these characters in a new dramatic plotline (Carrie, Saul, Quinn and Fara still make a great core to build a series around; Max and Virgil only add to that).
What these last four episodes – including this one – are attempting to do, though, is…interesting? Considering how far Homeland has stretched the concept of suspension of disbelief, it’s not all that bothersome that the rushed way we see Brody evolve from an addict on the verge of death to a lesser version of his former marine self is ridiculous. I mean, I don’t really know how long it would take to build Brody back up into a functional soldier on the Americans’ side after all the mental, emotional and physical turmoil he’s gone through since eight years before the events of Homeland even started. But I imagine it might take a little longer than a few weeks. That aside, it’s relieving just seeing Brody in “One Last Time” back home and in the same scenes as Carrie and Dana. The weird, convoluted love story between Brody and Carrie is still weird and convoluted, but at least Carrie doesn’t break down and tell him about her pregnancy right before he leaves. And at least Damian Lewis and Claire Danes are fantastic actors and make their scenes shimmer even when the material between them isn’t all that compelling or important anymore. All of that sounds like “This show is doing all of this stuff wrong, but hey, at least it still has this,” but it’s meant more to illustrate that even in its most confused state, Homeland is still something worth watching. It still has a relatively problem-free Saul, after all.
On that note, I don’t quite buy that Saul would relinquish his claim at CIA Director, but if a re-imagining of the series is in order, then it makes sense for Saul not to step into the position that naturally makes sense for him. He can’t be untouchable, and the writing has rightfully treated him with those tendencies to get it through this season. Given that there’s very little else to do with Saul in “One Last Time,” it’s surprising how unobtrusively the episode’s running time ends up being. Most of this season’s episodes have been the length of an average AMC or FX drama, but “One Last Time” pretty much runs the full hour. Unlike other series that drop the ball with extended time (Sons of Anarchy), it felt like writer Barbara Hall knew how to fill out her script with this one. So, as we watch these final three episodes and some people try to forget about them and the previous nine, let’s hope those scripts are similarly innocuous.
– Sean Colletti