written by Alex Gansa & James Yoshimura | directed by Seith Mann
I'm not as down on Homeland as many critics seem to be this year, but I must admit it's becoming less attractive to write about every week. So for that reason, I'm going to be very brief about "A Red Wheelbarrow."
I liked seeing Saul (Mandy Patinkin) get some well-deserved respect from the White House Chief of Staff (William Sadler) while putting Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) in his place, and his "genius" plan to plant Javadi in the Iranian government yet earn him the Director's job full-time; it was dispiriting to see that the tedium of the Brody family's been replaced by Saul's tedious wife and the domestic life of Fara (Nazanin Boniadi); I'm frustrated Carrie (Claire Danes) hasn't been fun to watch for most of this year, as she's now sabotaging CIA operations in the name of love; and this third season can be characterised as full of twists that mainly exist for the sake of them. To wit, it now seems that Saul was the caretaker of Brody (Damien Lewis), having now arrived to see him catatonic in his Venezuelan shit hole. It was a shock, sure, but it's also another example of the writers withholding information to score an easy surprise. A valid tactic, but Homeland used to play fairer than that.
I can't complain too much about this episode, because the second half of "A Red Wheelbarrow" was largely entertaining and I still think Saul's masterplan has worked in dramatic terms... but there's just a feeling this season's lost the simplicity and elegance the show once had. It was also driven by character in a plausible way, whereas now it feels like the characters are bending to accomodate whatever the script requires any given week.