Nicholas Brody’s ambiguous intentions were one of Homeland’s biggest assets back in season one, where almost every episode revolved around the question – “What’s Brody actually up to?” His uncertain allegiances and malleability became the linchpin – and eventual crutch – of season two, driving his conversion to the side of the CIA in “Q&A” and innumerable stupid decisions thereafter.
These characteristics of Brody return in “Big Man in Tehran,” which is established as a spy-cum-heist tale but is soon revealed as a reflection on Brody’s true loyalties. When the CIA’s innately fragile assassination plot falls apart, Brody seems to become the icon of Western failure that Abu Nazir desired, spouting anti-American propaganda on Iranian television (why no-one asked, “Hey, don’t we know that Brody didn’t bomb Langley?” is unexplained).
Of course, the CIA – specifically Senator Lockhart – want Brody dead, and of course Carrie has faith in him, her character increasingly reduced to a Brody-cheerleader. This leads to the tense, if contrived, scene in Akbari’s office, a scene that could’ve been ripped straight from season one with its blatant toying with audience expectations. Far from a flawless episode, but an effective demonstration of why Showtime is so desperate to keep Damian Lewis around.