Homeland Season 3 Premiere Review “Tin Man is Down”

As I covered in great detail on Friday, Homeland has a lot of work to do to regain its goodwill with fans and critics alike. The end of the second season went so far sideways even I, TV Equals resident Homeland apologist, couldn’t make peace with. Those that were interested in its return probably watched this episode with a great deal of trepidation. Would it double down on the worst parts of season two or would it forge ahead in an exciting new direction?

As it turned out, the answer was a little from column A and a little from column B. Nicholas Brody does not appear in the premiere episode, but his presence is felt very strongly throughout the episode. Carrie is being questioned by a congressional committee about the CIA dealings with Brody, shots are shown of the wreckage that still remains three months after the bombing of the CIA, and the Brody family remains in turmoil. It’s perhaps the last of those things that could be the most interesting, but checking in on the Brody family apparently means a lot of Dana Brody. I’ve never been fundamentally opposed to Dana Brody. Morgan Saylor is a capable actress who worked quite well with Damian Lewis. Unfortunately, she’s back to working primarily opposite boyfriends. Much like in the second season, it just doesn’t work. And frankly, it’s interesting to see the show double down on something that got such a poor reaction from viewers (and some critics) last season. Checking in on the Brodys has the chance to be dramatically satisfying, but we need more than Morgan Saylor and Morena Baccarin not knowing how to talk to each other about Dana’s suicide attempt. We’ll see what the show can come up with in later episodes, but the early returns are not particularly encouraging.

That being said, there is plenty to be encouraged about in this third season premiere. First and foremost is the elevation of Saul “The Bear” Berenson to CIA Director and the full-time addition of F. Murray Abraham’s Dar Adal to the team. Saul is suddenly thrust into positions he never really longed for, and Mandy Patinkin plays that uncertainty rather well. The use of Abraham in this episode does suggest a yin and yang approach to the CIA that could be rather interesting as the season progresses. Plus, the work will be elevated by the abilities of Patinkin and Abraham.

Less interesting, though not really terrible, is Carrie’s unbalanced return. Carrie is definitely not in a good place mentally at the season open, and her condition seems to continue to spiral as the episode progresses. There are a few ways to look at this turn of events. First, Claire Danes has won two Emmy doing versions of just this kind of stuff. However, the performance has been so intense, and is now closely associated with the show teetering on the edge of disaster that her performance in the premiere could be seen as tired. I do not view it that way, but I do not begrudge people who do.

It’s a rather interesting return for a series that had a rather interesting finish to its second season. Where we go from here is a question mark at this point, but I stand by what I said in my Friday column: I think it will be fun to watch them attempt to steer their way back on course. With so many unknowns (including how Nicholas Brody is going to return), it’s impossible to say what show this is going to become in its third season.

What did everyone else think of the season premiere?