Keep calm and Carrie on in 'Homeland'

  • TV
  • Tuesday, 29 Oct 2013

After last season’s explosive finale, Homeland returns with a whole new load of plot twists and shady characters that give the third season new promise.

WHEN Season Three of Homeland opens, the CIA is still reeling from the car bomb that exploded in its own headquarters at Langley, killing some 200 people close to two months ago (series time).

A senate committee has been set up to investigate the bombing – dubbed the second 9/11 – and US senator Andrew Lockhart

(Tracy Letts), its chairman, asks the question that’s on everyone’s minds: how can the CIA be expected to protect the country if it can’t even protect itself?

Everyone, except for CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), has put the blame squarely on war hero and suspected turncoat Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) who, at the end of the last season, fled the country with her help.

Having been by Brody’s side at the time of the bombing, Mathison is naturally a prime focus of the committee. Her alibi ­— that she’d passed out for 14 hours and is unaware of what transpired — isn’t holding water and it seems as if her mentor and friend Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), the new head of the CIA, has not only turned on her but is going to throw her under the bus.

He has her institutionalised by proving that she’s gone off her medication and is mentally unstable.

The focus of the first two episodes of the new season is on Mathison. And like her, the pace of these episodes is fast and frantic. It’s full speed ahead — a good way to pick up from where last season left off.

Mathison is wracked with guilt about the bombings which she feels she should have pre-empted.

Then, as the hearing continues, she watches Saul tell the committee how she hid her relationship with Brody from the Agency and that she may be a threat to the investigation (heck, she may even be implicated), Mathison feels betrayed … and furious. We’ve never seen her so furious. She runs to the press to tell her side of her story but alas, Saul obtains a psychiatric detention order for her and sends some men in white to take her away to the madhouse.

Oh, this really pisses her off.

If you’ve had any doubt that Danes deserved her two Emmys for her work on Homeland, these two episodes will strip them away. She pretty much carries the entire episodes and she does it magnificently. She’s not just manic, she’s pissed. In fact, we’re a little pissed at Saul, too. It’s so out of character for him. Where is he going with this?

Of course, there is a twist which was revealed in last Sunday’s instalment, the season’s fourth episode.

Turns out Mathison and Saul are in cahoots. They have a plan: they make it look as if the CIA has hung Mathison out to dry so that she will be contacted by the terrorists (no more Abu Nazeer; this season’s villain is Majid Javadi) to act as their double agent.

Complicated much?

While it is heartening that Saul turned out NOT to be a douchebag after all, their plan seemed a little too … easy. And all that emotion that Mathison displayed in the beginning — that was all an elaborate act? She’s that good?

So anyway, Mathison is now a double agent, having been contacted by a representative of Javadi who promises to get her out of the mental institution on the condition that she betray the CIA and work for Javadi.

She agrees — it’s all going according to plan, apparently.

Meanwhile, where is Brody?

He appears in the third episode … in South America. He is injured (and bald!) – he was shot multiple times in the abdomen – and is taken to an ominous and dark tower by some strange men with guns. He is then treated by a nameless, mysterious man who turns out to be a contact of Mathison.

He tells Brody that there’s a bounty on his head and that he is lucky to be alive and that his only safe haven is the tower. Drugged up and in pain, Brody notices a man enter the room in which he is recovering and rummage through his things, making off with his passport. When he wakes up stronger, he becomes anxious to get to his “next stop” — presumably Montreal as per plan — but is told by Mathison’s contact that there isn’t a “next stop” and that this is as far as he can go. Feeling as if he’s actually being imprisoned rather than rescued, Brody tries to escape.

He goes to a mosque for refuge, seeking the help of a local imam. Unfortunately, the imam considers him a terrorist and gives him up to the police. Thankfully for him, Mathison’s contact comes to his rescue in a bloody shootout. Brody heads back to the tower, feeling as if he has been hung out to dry. No passport, no news from Mathison, no light at the end of this dark, dreary tunnel. Which is reflected in the tone of the entire episode — it’s slow, intense and heavy. At times, it borders on being … dull.

And speaking of dull, on the home front, Brody’s family is trying to deal with the repercussions of learning that he is one of the country’s most wanted men. His daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) apparently attempted suicide and when the season opens, she has just returned home. She’s angry and disappointed and confused and the only person she feels can understand her is a fellow troubled teen she meets while in rehab.

Maybe it’s just me but I fail to see how these “home scenes” actually bring anything much to the story. They seem out of step with both the development and the pace of the plot.

The writers must have a reason for giving Dana so much airtime, though ... I just wish they’d hurry up and make her relevant because she sure is bringing the show down (no discredit to Saylor), one melodramatic sulk after another.

And don’t let me get started on Jessica (Morena Baccarin).

The season seems to have potential (despite the premiere getting poor ratings in the United States) and I am actually really curious to see how it develops.

> Homeland airs every Sunday at 10.50pm on FOX Movies Premium (Astro Ch 413 / HD Ch 433).

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