Homeland Season 3 Review “Uh…Oh…Ah…”

There’s a lot at stake here in the opening few episodes of the third season of Homeland. With the well-discussed semi-debacle at the end of season two, the show needed to do some things at the outset of season three that would restore confidence in the populace. Much like the season premiere, tonight’s episode did some really nice things that have a chance to keep us engaged as the season moves on. However, the show continues to do things that I’d frankly appreciate them just leaving behind.

As we covered in detail last week, the show’s continued investment in this Dana Brody storyline is puzzling. It seems that the show is really invested in exploring the tragedy wrought by Nicholas Brody. It’s a perfectly respectable idea, and one well worth the journey. Still, I don’t think Dana Brody and her troubled boyfriend (and appliances!) are the correct point of view for this issue. The problem with choosing Dana has nothing to do with Morgan Saylor’s acting ability. The problem is that we’ve been here before, and the audience reacted very poorly. Now, I’m not one to advocate fan service. I like it when writers have the ability to tell the story they want to tell without having to kowtow to any other masters. That being said, given all of the negativity surrounding Dana Brody’s story and Morgan Saylor’s acting ability, it’s surprising to see the show return to that well. On top of that, the storyline just isn’t working. It remains to be seen how long this particular story will go and what the end result will be. Still, it’s hard to imagine the payoff being worth wallowing in the laundry room of a mental hospital.

Other items seem like holdovers from the previous season. Some qualifiers first: Claire Danes is a phenomenal actress, and it’s a joy to watch her roar across the screen as the mentally unstable Carrie Mathison. I enjoyed the work in the first season, and some of the her finer points of the second season came when she was battling such demons while working in the field in Beirut. However, I’ve found myself missing the Carrie Mathison that was really good at her job. The show seems really interested in exploring Mathison’s mental struggles, but her work in the field and interrogation room wasn’t anything to sneeze at either. Given how long its been sense we’ve seen that Carrie, you would be forgiven if you had forgotten she was an accomplished CIA agent. While it seems less and less likely she’ll ever return to being a top operative, Carrie’s constant mental anguish has become slightly stale. I’ll watch Danes do just about anything on screen, but the crazy train needs to come to a halt for a bit.

While some parts of the show do seem a little stale, I’m increasingly excited about what’s happening at the CIA. Between the leadership of Saul, the mystery of Dar Adal, and inner conflict/outward awesomeness of Peter Quinn, that’s the cool place to be at the moment. I appreciated that we got to spend a lot of time there, and I hope we see more of it in the coming weeks. I like the addition of Fara to the team. Racial insecurities aside, her introduction into the world of CIA was well-handled. I didn’t like the way the show chose to introduce her by featuring the scene with the largest amount of side-eye in recorded human history. However, Saul addressing the issue seemed very genuine. It sounds problematic in our PC world, but it’s also the verbalized feelings of most of the people in the building. It was a well-done scene, and it made up for her earlier introduction. I’m glad she’s working well with Saul. After tonight, it sure seems like he could use a new female mentee.