A high-stakes operation to assassinate Iran’s warmongering intelligence chief takes several unexpected turns on “Big Man in Tehran,” Episode 311 of Showtime’s “Homeland.”
Tasked by the CIA with the near-suicide mission is Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), the disgraced congressman and world’s most-wanted fugitive.
After barely surviving a hazardous crossing from Iraq into Iran, he requests political asylum by falsely confessing to the deadly attack at CIA headquarters.
The plan calls for Brody to kill Iranian spymaster Danesh Akbari (Houshang Touzie) by jabbing him with a cyanide needle. To create a diversion for Brody, Israeli agents would remotely detonate a motorcycle bomb nearby.
If the elaborate plot succeeds, Col. Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) – blackmailed into covertly working for the CIA – would assume control of Iranian intelligence.
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“I’m aware it’s a lot of moving parts,” CIA Acting Director Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) tells skeptical observers at mission control in the U.S.
But if the longshot works, it could transform American relations across the Middle East for decades to come. And Saul might extend his CIA career.
The operation appears on track when Brody believes he will rendezvous with Gen. Akbari outside a home in Tehran. But before Brody can draw close enough for the kill, Akbari drives off in a convoy with his heavily armed guards.
When Brody enters the home, he’s surprised to see Nassrin (Naz Deravian), the widow of Abu Nazir, an Al Qaeda leader shot by the FBI. Nazir brainwashed then befriended Brody when he was a Marine Corps sergeant held for eight years as a prisoner of war.
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Nassrin tenderly asks Brody why he abandoned the U.S. and came to Iran.
“I want to stop running,” he replies sadly. “This is the only place in the world I can find peace.”
So instead of poisoning Akbari, Brody is soon hailed as a hero of the Iranian Revolution. Exploited for propaganda purposes, he denounces America on state-run TV.
This unfortunate turn of events infuriates Sen. Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts), nominated by the president to succeed Saul in a few days as CIA director.
“Bottom line, Brody has gone from asset to liability,” Lockhart exclaims. “We need to end it.”
“You mean end Brody?” Saul asks.
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“We can’t just abandon him here,” insists CIA case officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who’s posing as a French-speaking tourist in Tehran while she monitors the assassination attempt on Akbari.
Realizing that Brody – the father of her unborn child – is the CIA’s new target, Carrie pleads with him to escape before the Israeli agents strike. Her warning works, much to the chagrin of Saul. He angrily orders her to fly home on the next plane out of Tehran.
As for Brody, it appears he’s going to betray the CIA just as the CIA betrayed him. He asks Nassrin to arrange a meeting with Akbari, claiming he has important information to share about Javadi.
Alone with Akbari in his office, Brody details the entire assassination plot. And he tells how the CIA converted Javadi into an asset by discovering he embezzled a fortune from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“They own him,” emphasizes Brody, adding that he’s revealing the CIA plot to “redeem myself” for failing to carry out a terrorism act on behalf of Nazir.
But before Akbari can “deal with Javadi” – which would likely involve torture and public execution – Brody knocks the general unconscious and smothers him with a pillow. Then Brody immediately calls Carrie for help.
“I killed him,” he says nervously. “Get me out of here!”
With just one episode to go, Season 3 of “Homeland” is speeding toward an explosive climax.