written by Chip Johannesen | directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
As usual, the performances are what help keep Homeland on-track, even if you find yourself doubting the direction the writing's taking. Claire Danes is so impressive whenever she's asked to show Carrie's descent into mental torment, and yet a part of me wonders if the writers regret giving her character bipolar disorder. It made it difficult to accept her ever being allowed back to the CIA last season, and given how Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is trying to discredit her publicly I fail to see how she'll ever get her job back. And as tremendous as Danes is in these scenes, and as unique as it feels to have a CIA agent fighting mental illness, I can't shake the feeling it's put Carrie Matheson in a corner too much. Hopefully there's some kind of breakthrough coming soon, but I predict it will stretch credibility if Carrie forgives and forgets, then returns to work alongside Saul to catch the real perpetrators of the CIA bombing.
If you're not a fan of the Brody family, "Uh... Oh... Ah..." may also have tested your patience somewhat. The show obviously needs a break from its counter-terrorism storyline, and without Brody around his family are doing the heavy-lifting. Thankfully, I found myself enjoying Dana's (Morgan Saylor) storyline this week, as she ran away from home to be with Leo (Sam Underwood) at the hospital she's been released from after treatment. The parallel that Carrie's struggling to get out of the nut house, while Dana's desperate to go back, was also a nice touch.
Saylor was excellent throughout, too, but especially in that moment when she explained to her exasperated mother (Morena Baccarin) that Leo's helping her move past suicidal thoughts because love makes her feel like life's worth living again. The scene where Dana discovered her father's prayer mat in the garage was also really good. It was a moment of connection with the memory of her fugitive father, proving there's still residual love there.
I'm still bothered by season 3's twist being that Saul has become an enemy of Carrie, because their relationship was a big part of the show's first few seasons. It's hard seeing them at odds, but it certainly delivers some drama. Away from the situation with Carrie (stopping her blabbing to the press by having her committed), Saul was also dealing with the investigation into the bombing.
This introduced a young Muslim financial analyst called Fara Sherazi (Nazanin Boniadi) to the show, who was tasked with following the money involved in financing the car-bombing of Langley. What was most notable about this sub-plot was Saul's treatment of the "kid in a head scarf", which seemed very unreasonable to me. Unless it was entirely an act to try and motivate her to succeed, which she did by finding a link to a US bank. Either way, Saul's becoming a bit of a bastard this season. Even Quinn's (Rupert Friend) had enough--spurred on by the treatment of Carrie to discredit her, but also the guilt over killing an innocent child last week--and has revealed he'll be handing in his notice the second this operation's over.
Overall, this was an entertaining hour, but I can't say I'm gripped by the third season just yet. It feels like it's uncertain about where to go from here, and I'm not sure turning Carrie and Saul into bitter enemies was the right way to go. And while it would be more ridiculous if the writers forgot Carrie is bipolar, they've unfortunately made their bed and now have to lie in it. If Homeland had been a miniseries (which is what it felt like in season 1), that twist with Carrie's character wouldn't be a problem, but now they have to find a way to make it work for the lead character in an ongoing terrorism drama.
Lots of problems still to be solved (for the characters on the show, but also the writers trying to keep this show an Emmy voter's favourite), so that alone has me on the hook. If nothing else, you really have no idea where anything's going week to week, which is great.