[This post contains spoilers about the eleventh episode of 'Homeland' season three.]

Homeland episode 11 recap: Brody drops the syringe, but kills another

(Photo via Showtime / Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

For many great TV series – specifically “The Sopranos” and “The Wire” – the penultimate episode often amounts to the most exciting of the season. In this 11th episode of “Homeland” season three, we got a look at that same formula, as the fast-paced hour of Brody in Tehran sped through, from infiltration to integration. And then the payoff – a moment of Brody we’ve seen before…although this time, it felt different.

In season one, Brody pulled the trigger on Tom Walker. In season two, he ended the life of Vice President Walden. And now, his big kill this season was General Danesh Akbari, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. But while it clearly was a major development based on the direction of this season, it was more tell than show.

When Brody killed Tom Walker, we spent the beginning of the season hearing about Walker’s demise, only to find out he was still alive midway through the season, and watched him become a key player as the season came to a close. His abrupt death was jarring. We got to know Vice President Walden over the course of more than an entire season, and he played an integral role as the catalyst to Brody’s rise to power. With Akbari, we’ve heard bits and pieces about him in a couple episodes this season, but his first appearance came Sunday, and he encompassed no more than 10 minutes of screen time before he met his demise. As impactful moments go, this was mild in comparison to the former two.

But let’s start at the beginning. Brody is brought to Tehran, and tells his story as he’s interrogated, under the watchful eye of Javadi. Javadi has clearly ingratiated himself right back with the Iranian leadership, but there’s a new character who has arrived in Iran – Carrie Mathison. Carrie, it seems, will supervise the mission from up close.

Javadi makes the case to Akbari about Brody’s relevance, pointing to his “huge propaganda value” – and he plants the seed that Akbari should meet with him. Carrie meanwhile is plotting the next move with two Mossad agents, involving a cyanide syringe that Brody is to plunge into Akbari when the time is right (it’s no ricin cigarette, but the visual is pretty effective).

Then we get a meeting between Javadi and Carrie, hatching out the plan, and handing off the syringe, which gets passed to Brody who keeps it with him for his impromptu Akbari meet-up.

But it’s not to be. Instead, Akbari leads him to an apartment where he meets with Abu Nazir’s widow. “I want to stop running,” says Brody, who genuinely appears to have a change of heart and begins to doubt his mission working with the CIA. As they leave together, the Tehran version of TMZ are there to take pictures and shout questions. Brody greets his adoring fans. Next he’s doing Tehran’s Charlie Rose, talking on TV about his anti-American sentiments.

He’s gone “from asset to serious liability,” says Sen. Andrew Lockhart. “This is a guy who changes his mind…we can’t trust Brody. We never could.”

And maybe we’re not supposed to be on Lockhart’s side, as he’s served as the antagonistic foil to the Saul Berenson way of CIA’ing – but he’s 100% correct. Brody is untrustworthy, a loose cannon, and switches massive geo-political sides at the drop of a cyanide-laced syringe.

Saul, Dar Adal and Lockhart decide Brody must be taken out, and despite Carrie attempting to help him, Brody goes rogue again and demands a meeting with Akbari. There, he spoils the entire mission – Javadi is working with the CIA, Brody himself was recruited by the CIA to put Javadi into Akbari’s position after assassinating him. The bomb didn’t explode at the end of season one, but Brody finally detonated something, right in Akbari’s secure office.

And if the episode ended there, it would be really interesting. Brody, now turned again, working for Akbari and against the CIA. But it wasn’t to be. Instead, Brody knocks out Akbari with an ashtray, and suffocates him to death with a pillow. He calls Carrie: “I killed him. Get me out of here.”

Presumably, next week’s episode will be Carrie and Brody (and one on the way!), the crazy couple escaping together from Iran, with love to guide them on their way. But maybe, hopefully, we’ll get a Brody resolution. “I want to stop running,” says Brody. There’s only one way to do that – just stop.