Homeland Season 3 Review “A Red Wheelbarrow”

Screw it, I’m back in.

Look, I know all the reasons I shouldn’t be in. Carrie continues to jeopardize missions of national importance for her one true love. Saul’s reasoning regarding why his Javadi plan will work sounds really stupid when coming from the Director of the CIA. Carrie is pregnant with Brody’s child. The list goes on. Many parts of this show are really bad, even distressing. I have no intention of trying to defend any of it. Carrie running into the night to stop a lawyer from killing some schmo in a hotel room is indefensible. I know that very few other people with an internet pulpit will join me. As a matter of fact, I would expect most of them to deride this episode as yet another misstep in a season full of them.

So why am I back in? Quite simply, much of the episode is a reminder of the things Homeland does so well. Whereas last week was full of exposition trying to cover up gaping holes, this week plunged us full force into a pretty intense operation. With the vast majority of the episode actually surrounding an operation, Homeland once again had the look and feel of a show we used to know. The show was always at its most interesting when the spy game was playing a prominent role. Yes, Brody and Carrie were terrific on screen together, but the early episodes of the show based their relationship around games, surveillance, and so, so much drinking. Things didn’t fully come off the rails until their relationship became about the doomed love affair. Seeing the show return to spy days made for compelling television no matter how hard the writers tried at the end.

In addition to the fun with the spy games, Saul visiting Venezuela’s top heroin-consuming tower turns the Brody return from “maddening stupidity” to “potentially not that horrible”. He was going to return at some point. It was the peace we had to make for ourselves in the season’s early going. With Saul being the one to track down Brody in Venezuela, it opens up several more less horrible options than if Carrie had tracked him down. Granted, several horrible options still exist, but Alex Gansa went out of his way to surprise us once again, so it would make you believe he has something planned for Saul and Sergeant Brody. So much of the third season is up in the air with five episodes to go. I commend the show for choosing to go in a slightly different direction. Sticking the landing would go a long way to healing some wounds. They haven’t instilled a ton of confidence over the course of the season, but this episode provides some renewed hope. Gansa swerved on us, an intense mission took place, and Carrie looked semi-competent for most of the episode. No, it’s not time to celebrate, but there’s a chance for… something to close out season three. If you’re coming with me, make sure you step over Carrie’s shot body in the hotel parking lot and let’s go!