Let’s get it out of the way up front: I love Homeland. I think it is the best thing on TV right now (with its only true competition being Game of Thrones now that Breaking Bad has ended). I found the first two seasons to be riveting and immaculately constructed, and I have high hopes for the third. As I am starting this review series at episode 3, I’ll give a quick update as to what’s been going on.
Previously on Homeland…
Season 2 of Homeland ended with Carrie (Claire Danes) helping Brody (Damien Lewis) to escape after he is wrongfully blamed for the bombing of the CIA headquarters at Langley. Brody goes on the run and Carrie stays behind.
When season 3 begins we learn that Saul (Mandy Patinkin) has been promoted to Director of the under-fire CIA and Carrie has been forced to undergo questioning by a congressional commission so they can understand how the bombing was not detected and prevented. An anonymous source leaks to the press the fact that a female CIA agent was having an affair with Brody, and when put under pressure by the congressional commission, Saul confirms this (as well as revealing Carrie’s bi-polar disorder, which she had kept secret from the rest of the CIA). Supposedly for her own safety, Saul has Carrie admitted to a mental institution after she attempts to take her side of the story to the press. We also have the set-up of a new ‘Big Bad’ for season 3 – a man named Javadi, whom the CIA is blaming as the mastermind behind the bombing. Meanwhile, Brody’s daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) has spent the last few months at a youth rehabilitation centre after attempting to commit suicide, and her mother Jessica (Morena Baccarin) is struggling to connect with her. That’s it in a nutshell!
Now onto episode 3.
Brody has been handed over to a group of men holding up in a run-down apartment building in Venezuela. There is no indication as to what he has been up to in the months since the bombing. Despite his captor claiming to be a friend of Carrie’s, Brody feels uncomfortable. Once he recovers from a recent bullet wound, he decides to escape. Meanwhile, Carrie is adjusting to life within the institution.
Claire Danes, Claire Danes, and Claire Danes. She can do no wrong on this show as far as I am concerned. Danes has always been the show’s ace card, but she still keeps getting better and better! Carrie is paranoid and desperate, but she still retains her old intelligence; this is a tricky mixture to portray, but Danes nails it. This is particularly evident in a scene in which Carrie attempts to prove to her doctor that she is getting better.
There’s too much Brody! Lewis has always been the weakest of the three leads, and it really shows in an episode in which he is the focus for 75% of the time. Saul doesn’t even make an appearance, and the episode suffers from lack of Patinkin’s gravitas. I also missed Dana this week, as she has actually become one of the show’s most interesting characters for me.
Thankfully Danes only makes her signature contorted ‘Carrie Face’ a couple of times in this episode.
This is a more restrained episode than usual, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Danes shines in her limited screentime and Lewis struggles somewhat to carry the bulk of the episode. But even in its weaker episodes, Homeland is still operating in the upper echelons of the current television landscape.
Review Score: THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Homeland screens at 8.30pm Monday nights on Channel 10.