SPOILER ALERT: This recap contains storyline and character spoilers.
For those still not certain that this current third season of “Homeland” is going to pay off in the end, this week's episode, “Good Night,” probably did nothing to allay that worry. Put it this way: If last week’s “One Last Time” had been merged with “Good Night,” it would have made for one powerful installment.
As it was, “Good Night” felt like filler, where an hour of tension dragged out to this: Brody made it to the border of Iran, asked for political asylum, and is now off with Javadi to Tehran. And we found out Saul’s good luck charm: Black Jack gum. Really. Those harsh black licorice sticks that no one but your grandpa can stand are Saul’s go-to nerve calmer when he’s in a tricky spot. His assistant keeps boxes of it in his office.
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The other two-thirds of the episode found Quinn calling out Carrie on her pregnancy (she denied to him that the baby is Brody’s), and three Iraqi cops and one of Brody’s special-ops trainers becoming the latest collateral damage of Saul’s master plan.
* Oh, and we could have done without that joke about the special-ops guy and oral sex on a goat, writers.
* Saul to Carrie, on how nervous he is about Brody’s mission: “Feel like I’m in Vegas, betting the mortgage.” Yeah, this sure is a risky mission for you, Saul. Obviously, Saul has put his entire career on the line to carry out this big play of his, and maybe he needs to stay so single-mindedly focused on it to maintain his commitment to it. But there is going to come a point where he is forced to acknowledge all the sacrifices other people have made in support of it… right?
* A snafu with the original plan for getting Brody over the border in Iraq, and another blow-up (literally, when Brody's car ran over a land mine), led Saul to make the call to abort the mission. Even weaselly Sen. Lockhart offered up his condolences to his blackmailer/rival, telling Saul he just hit a patch of bad luck. Obviously, Lockhart was not aware of the good luck powers of Saul’s Black Jack supply (or Brody’s insistence on getting himself over that border).
* Even Carrie offered Saul some words of encouragement after Brody managed to get himself across the border, telling her manipulative boss, “He made it. And you, Saul, are still in the game.” Again, we have to wonder when all of this is going to catch up to Saul.
* So, about the Black Jack gum: Its prominence in the episode begs a little background on the candy. It was concocted in 1884 by a man named Thomas Adams in Staten Island, New York, and was not only the first flavored gum sold in the United States, but the first to be sold in stick form. If you have an overwhelming desire to try the stuff, you can find it at OldTimeCandy.com.
In the meantime, questions for next week’s “Big Man in Tehran,” the penultimate episode of Season 3: Why did Javadi kill the special-ops guy who accompanied Brody across the border? Was it a necessary action, for appearances' sake, or is it a sign that Saul does not have the control he thinks he has over Javadi?
Carrie visited Fara and asked her to come back to work, and involve her family in Iran, as part of an extradition plan in case Brody really does pull off the political assassination of Javadi’s boss. Will Fara play along, after seeing what Javadi did to his family?
And what if everything Saul planned does unfold the way he wants it to? Javadi’s a big ol’ baddie, to be sure, but he’s a smart guy and a committed guy himself; might not he have a big play up his own sleeve?
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.
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