Homeland: “Tin Man is Down” Season 3 Episode 1 Review

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Season 3 of the acclaimed spy drama begins with a back-to-basics approach, preferring a tense character study over flashy twists and turns.

There’s a lot of negativity surrounding Homeland‘s second season, and most of it is well-deserved.  Somewhere along the way, the show traded in its complex human element for action-heavy tactics that ended up being more ridiculous than thrilling.  There was the absurdity of Abu Nazir’s skype call to Brody.  The unrealistic pace-maker killing.  Carrie pretty much turning into Jack Bauer.  Oh, and let’s not forget about Dana and her whole hit-and-run subplot.  Actually, I take that back.  We should all try to forget about the hit-and-run subplot.

Sure, the show abandoned its sense of realism for a while, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still some great moments.  Carrie’s moment of triumph at the end of “State of Independence,” was nothing short of heartwarming.  And, of course, who could forget the emotionally raw interrogation in “Q&A?”  These moments are what make the show so, to borrow a phrase often used by other critics, groundbreaking.  It reveals how well thought out the characters are when a simple look or gesture can bring up a million different emotions.

Well Homeland fans, I have good news for you.  Season 3 seems to have found its way back to the intricately grounded stories we all know and love.  There are still some shocking moments, but on the whole everything feels much more authentic.

In the aftermath of the explosion at CIA headquarters, everyone has been thrown into a bit of turmoil.  Carrie is asked to testify before the Senate Select Committee regarding her knowledge of the events.  She’s thrown for a loop when it is revealed that secret documents have been leaked to the committee that show her and her team in a compromising light.  Meanwhile, Saul and Dar Adal–who is becoming less and less trustworthy by the minute, if you ask me–are at work on a tactical strike plan to get back in the governments good graces.  They plan to hit six members believed to have planned the CIA bombing all at once in the span of 20 minutes.  Peter Quinn is on the ground for one of the targets and everything seems to be going smoothly, until he realizes he accidentally shot the target’s son as well.  I have a feeling this will come back to bite him very soon.

All of these scenes were fascinating to watch, and never felt over the top.  There was also talk of a new Iranian terrorist named Majid Javadi who could very well become this season’s new villain.  This was all very exciting, but real treat of the episode was getting a peak into Carrie and Saul’s respective home lives since the attack.  Needless to say, neither are doing too well.  It was unsettling to learn Carrie had gone off her meds because she believed they were the reason she never saw the bombing coming.  It was very upsetting to see Saul and Mira’s marriage still in shambles.  They’re under the same roof, but in different beds.  Saul talks to her in such a bleak manner that you could easily forget they’re husband and wife.  These chilling details are essential in helping us understand the characters’ actions, and I’m so glad they’ve been given such a big focus in the premiere.

Aside from all of this, the Brody family is struggling to put their lives back together.  It isn’t easy, since we learn that Dana has gone to a rehab center after trying to slit her wrists in a bathtub.  She seems to have recovered well enough, but how easy can life be when news cameras hound the whole family as soon as they step outside?  This made her decision to send a topless selfie to a boy that she’s seeing from her program seem both extremely stupid, and appropriately teenage-y.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about Dana because her angst, though very annoying, was also completely believable for someone her age.  I’m interested to see where this goes, as long as there are no hit-and-runs involved.

Everything in the episode led up to the final moments which were unanticipated, to say the least.  Carrie reads a news article claiming that someone in the CIA was having a sexual relationship with Seargent Brody.  After angrily confronting Saul in a restaurant, she’s forced to go home.  The next day, she watches as his committee hearing is broadcast on live TV.  It is here where he reveals that an agent in his division was suffering from bipolar disorder and carried on a secret affair with the missing Congressman.  Carrie is stunned, and we’re left with her bewildered face as she stares at the man who she thought was her mentor.

Of course, this whole episode raises several questions.  How could Saul throw Carrie under the bus like that?  Is this part of a larger plan?  Who is leaking this confidential information to the Committee and to the press?  And, the one that everyone is probably wondering, where exactly is Brody?  These questions are what’s going to keep me watching and guessing until the very end.  If Homeland continues on this path, we could very well have another groundbreaking season on our hands.  Grade: B+

By Mike Papirmeister

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