Homeland: “Game On” Season 3 Episode 4 Review

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Well, this changes everything.

Tonight’s Homeland was a fine hour of drama, and easily the best of the season so far. It should be noted that the episode was directed by none other than the “Pilot Whisperer” himself David Nutter, the man behind a number of successful TV shows, including the “Red Wedding” episode of Game of Thrones.  His presence can be felt throughout tonight’s gripping escalation of Carrie’s journey, leading to one shocker of an ending.

Ah, the ending. Homeland has become known for it’s water cooler-worthy twists, and tonight it pulled out a quite a doozy.  As it turns out, Carrie and Saul have been working together.  An emotionally exhausted Carrie shows up at Saul’s house, and we’re expecting a heated confrontation.  Instead, Saul smiles when he hears everything has gone according to plan.  The elusive firm trying to court Carrie into giving them counterintelligence information believes she’s on their side, but really they’ve played right into her hand.  It’s a beautiful moment, considering only a few scenes ago we saw Carrie completely broken down, finally giving into the firm’s demands.  Finding out that the CIA dream-team is back together was a relief, to say the least.

Of course, seeing as how this revelation was pretty out of the blue, I was left with more than a few questions. How long have Carrie and Saul been working together?  At first I was inclined to think that this was their plan from the start, but that leaves so many loose ends.  Why, if she knew what the plan was, would Carrie act so astounded when she was alone in her apartment watching Saul on TV?  Was her big “f*ck you” moment to him when he visits the psyche ward all an act as well?

I would be a little disappointed in Homeland if this was the case, as these are the kind of dangling threads that got it in so much trouble last season.  Still, a large part of me thinks the show is back to its old clever self.  In a brief scene, Carrie asks her lawyer if she can use her phone to call her father.  She has just been denied release, so in a state of vulnerability she asks her dad to tell Saul that she’ll do anything he wants to get out of there.  My guess is that Saul had been working on this plan for a while, but only clued Carrie in on it recently. This would make a lot more sense, especially with how she scolded him for leaving her in the hospital for so long.

Aside from the big twist, there were a few other highlights in this episode.  Saul working with Farrah was great to watch, especially because of how compelling Farrah is becoming as a character.  She has just the right balance of smarts and naiveté to be an amiable addition to the CIA.  Meanwhile, everything Carrie went through leading up to her moment with Saul was fascinatingly harrowing.  I know I say this every week, but once again Claire Danes killed it with her performance.  Even as Carrie tries to act professional at her hearing so she can discharged from the psyche ward, there’s something so unsettling about her behavior.  You can feel the tension building inside her.  It’s truly brilliant work.

The only negative thing about “Game On” had to do with Dana Brody.  I think I have a higher tolerance for her antics than most people do, but amongst everything else that was going on, her angst just felt so pointless tonight.  After her astonishing concession to Jessica a few weeks ago, I was really hoping for some growth from her character.  But no, all we got is more of her rebelling and running off to be with Leo–who may or may not have killed his twin brother.  You sure know how to to pick ’em, Dana.

Not to worry, this weaker subplot was nowhere near enough to deter from this week’s greatness.  After so much speculation over whether or not Homeland will return to its former glory, I can safely say that I am as hooked as I was in season 1.  There’s no telling whether or not this show will continue on this path or veer off into the darkness again, but I have never been more excited to see what will happen next.  Grade: A-

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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