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OMFG Ranking Last Night's 'Homeland': Watch Me Pull a Rabbit Out of My Hat

By Cindy Davis | TV Reviews | October 21, 2013 | Comments ()


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And just like that, Homeland is back. As we’ve watched the first three episodes of Season 4 play out, most of us wondered what could bring back that old feeling—that cool head rush we got when the writers took us places we hadn’t expected; twisted up everything we thought we knew and swapped it out for something else. I could feel something coming as the minutes of “Game On” ticked by, beginning with my own ever-so-slight panic amping up right alongside Carrie’s when she spied Dar Adal walking through the hospital corridor. The episode expertly played out, taking us on a classic graph chart journey, with repeated peaks and valleys until it came to that brilliant moment—you know the one. Damned if I didn’t feel chills rising all the way up from my toes when Carrie said to Saul, “It worked.” Well played, Gansa and Gordon…well played.

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The Peaks: It really is saying something when an actress can make viewers feel we’re in her own shoes. Claire Danes is consistently able to project Carrie’s situation onto us; I don’t know how the hell she does it, but she does. I felt her desperation at being stuck in that hospital, her defeat as the judge informed her he couldn’t approve her release, and her simultaneous frustration—and utter acceptance—of what was happening as she went from place to place, unable to take any control. And kudos again to the writers for the little surprises; I expected the CIA (maybe Quinn) in Carrie’s home, but instead we got the increasingly creepy Paul Franklin. After she left home without transportation and discovered she had no money or usable credit, I thought Carrie would possibly go to Quinn for help—or maybe even Jessica—but Carrie went to stair-fuck guy’s house…and charged him a fee for letting her spend the night. Then I (thought I’d) figured it out! When Franklin (don’t blink, Carrie!) was right there to whisk her off to meet Leland Bennett (Martin Donovan), and Bennett informed her he was working for the bad guys, I saw right through Carrie.

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Of course she would pretend to work with this mystery client. Of course she would take this perfect opportunity to leverage her freedom with the CIA by playing double agent. Carrie is just that smart; she’d figure out this was valuable information and trade it to get Saul back on her side. For a thirtieth of a second, I imagined writing about this episode and having to defend Carrie, because even though it looked like she was going to “do what she had to do” to keep out of that psychiatric prison, I was certain she had a plan. But Homeland outplayed me this time, because as everything in my head was seemingly coming to fruition—Carrie was at Saul’s house to trade her information for freedom—those clever writers played me for the fool I am. Saul and Carrie had this scheme going all along, and I’ll tell you, I’ve never wanted to hug Saul or Carrie so hard. Bravo, double Gs. Of course, Carrie would get an extra hug after that soul-crushing line: “You should have gotten me out of the hospital, Saul—you shouldn’t have left me.”

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As for Saul, though I still haven’t gotten over that horrible thing he said to Fara when they first met (even if it was just to spur Fara out of inaction), together the two have figured out for certain that Javadi funded the Langley attack. Saul quite cleverly put together Fara’s information on the Iranian money trail (after skimmed wire transfers are bounced around a few places, it’s laundered through a football club before heading to the final recipient) with the foolishly aliased Javadi, whose name Saul instantly recognizes as belonging to Javadi’s boyhood goal-keeper hero. Even though they have enough information to ensure Javadi would be executed by the Revolutionary Guard, Saul wants to get Javadi in a room to squeeze out every bit of useful information from him (presumably not with a bear hug).

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The Valleys: Or rather, “The Perils of Dana?” Yeah, the kids are back and they’re gonna get in trouble, hey na hey na. I guess the writers have to throw something in the middle of the peaks to let us catch our breath? This week it was Leo and Dana on a road trip. After a ridiculously easy escape, Leo hopped into Jessica’s not-stolen car—driven by Dana—and the pair had a silly-rather-than-scary exchange when they traded mom’s Subaru for a Toyota. But hey, at least Mike (“The Blacklist’s” Diego Klattenhoff) is back to pretty things up, and provide moral support to Jessica when she’s called in to face Leo’s asshole parents at the other psychiatric facility. Dana and Leo go on some weird Tour of Our Darkest Despair; first to Leo’s not-suicidal Irish twin’s grave, and then to the airfield where eight year old Dana heard her father’s last true word: “Goodbye.” Poor Dana; I wonder when she’ll figure out that yet another man she trusted is a liar too, and probably another dangerous one. So I guess we’re going to continue the season still ever so slightly bogged down by these Brody family hijinks, but you know what? If having them flitting about here and there in the background every other episode is the price we have to pay, I still think Homeland is worth it. (Note: In an after-episode interview, Alex Gansa said Dana won’t have as big a role; that she’ll have less of an onscreen presence, but she’ll be there for Brody and Carrie in a “profound way”. Not sure that’s a good thing either.)

OMFG Rating: 10 out of 10. Bright red; I so did not see that coming.

Other thoughts:

It was great to see Virgil again and as always, he’s on Carrie’s side with a clever clue. Carrie’s mother left and never came back, so Carrie should do the same.

Fara told Saul that Javadi had gone to Venezuela twice; there’s the Brody connection. I wonder if Carrie will be kidnapped by the Iranians, and somehow end up in a place where he can help. It’s too much of a coincidence not to matter.

So basically, Saul doesn’t trust (which seems much more in keeping with their Season 2 relationship) Dar Adal and has been keeping Adal out of his hair with busy work. Upon a second viewing, it’s pretty amusing when Saul tells Adal to get Carrie off the street and Adal storms out of Saul’s office like he’s on The Most Important Mission. Can’t you just see Saul running into his bathroom to let out a laugh?

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I’m not going to lie, the previews for upcoming episodes have me a little terrified for Carrie. Instead of worrying over who Brody or Quinn really is, I’m feeling frightened of who Saul may be.

Did you know you can get a free Audible explanation of how Brody got to Caracas—narrated by Damian Lewis?


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Dominic

    WELL that was a good shocker wasn't it ? give the writers some props ...I told you Carrie would be brought back into the fold just didn't think it'd be this early or as easy ... I like that idea of Carrie being kidnapped ( and rescued by Brody's "warden " ? ) as a way to reunite her with Brody . A blonde woman and a redheaded man , both Caucasians , on the run and unarmed , in Muslim country , oh my ....

  • randy

    What on earth was the point of having Carrie react so negatively to Saul's testimony if she knew he was going to give it all along? I think the whole thing stunk of desperation. That is not how somebody reacts if they know the plan ahead of time. And that is how several scenes played out in the past 3-4 episodes.

  • Dominic

    Well , OBVIOUSLY , there's no kicker to the end of that episode if she's smirking with glee or a knowing smile instead .....let us in on it too early ...

    Revisit the scene ; maybe you'll see it was more in admiration of his play . OR bitter resignation that this act was going to be played out all the way , definitely into the mental asylum . Writer's desperation ?? well maybe since they had to "bring" Carrie back into the fold somehow . If this was a 22-episode series they could have stretched it out longer ; maybe you would have got the hints ....

    Can't you just enjoy the surprise , instead of ragging on it ?

  • randy

    So is this a criticism free zone or something? You just enjoy whatever they throw at you just because? They had her react that way to intentionally throw off the user. They could have had people around her in that moment and it wouldnt look so disingenuous now. But because she was by herself, her shaking her head and crying looks ridiculous.

  • Dominic

    ahh you gotta hate just to hate huh ? ... actually yes in the BETTER TV shows you enjoy the surprises , cause the shitty shows sure aren't giving it to you .. i'm not sure what you mean " people around her in the moment " as the cover for her ( and story for us ) doesn't work if she ISN'T isolated and alone... NOBODY approaches her if it doesn't not only look like she's alone , but ALSO that she's pushed everyone away( now you know why she kicked Quinn away ..) . . She and Saul set up the lawyers by making it LOOK like she needed them . But she isn't all alone on an island , we found out ... she HAS to shake her head crying ridiculously , or the cover don't work . Understand ??
    My only criticism MIGHT be that they popped the surprise too early , But as was noted above , i think they are giving time/episodes for Carrie to be kidnapped and re-united with Brody . And Saul won't be able to go after her , publicly ...

  • randy

    How is criticizing things I dont like, hating just to hate? These reviews are tv criticism, which can be good or bad. I didnt like it. She was watching Saul throw her under the bus alone and she had such a strongly negative reaction to it. Instead, they could have done something much more ambiguous if they really wanted to show that scene. Otherwise, dont show it at all.

  • Dominic

    her 'reaction" is easily explained by this : Saul saying what he did where he did was the signal for her . the FINAL command confirmation to begin the operation . So it's more like " Goddamn he did it you bastard Saul what are you making me do ! "
    you're gonna have to post some alternative "ambiguous " scene and we'll see if it works . You kinda still missing the point ; Her reaction CANT be bland , basically just for our entertainment if anything C'mon if it HAD been an ambiguous scene you mighta come here and said " this is so boring you can tell she's faking ..." ....

    lol ok you wanna ruin a damn good swerve cause in a major scene her acting while faking hate for Saul wasn't ambiguous enough ....
    Cmon dude ....

  • Dominic

    Danes is too damn good at playing angry and crazy , . to slow-play it ....
    this swerve also gives new meaning to the scene where Saul visits her in the sanitarium . New meaning for the warbled F-You , as drugged as she was . They both knew they were still being watched ..

  • Dominic

    this ALSO means that Saul et whoever already had some idea that the lawyers were covering for terrorists , and prob didn't need Scarfhead . It just looks better coming thru her ...the restaurant tantrum was faked too , for Dar's benefit obv reel him in farther .... was THAT too over the top for you ?? randy ..... all the scenes with Dad were faked too altho she prob did need to go off the meds or the Drs would find it in her system .. .

  • Dominic

    Admittedy , Danes is SO good at playing crazy , maybe none of our agents can act that like her ..

  • Dominic

    maybe your point is that a real person in that Sit would have cracked and not been able to do it ( sit in a mental hospital , convince your DAD and lawyer that you've gone over the bend again ) A ) THAT"S WHY IT"S TV ! and we are entertained .... B) we'd have some sorry excuse for Federal agents if at LEAST one of them couldn't pull this off ..

  • lowercase_ryan

    I swear to God I want Dana and her boyfriend to go natural born killers for real and end up dead. Get her the hell of the show already ffs. The writers got me too, well played y'all.

  • Sean

    That would make an awesome TV show.

  • Dominic

    the only prob in this show with the "Troubled Teens " storyline : Don't they KNOW that all you have to do is take the battery out of the phone ! not throw it away ... take it out put it back in for a necessary call and keep moving ...
    Otherwise it's a pretty normal teen angst story nothing to get bent out of shape about . If I remember correctly Dana's had a key role every Season so I don't get the hate for her now ...

  • DrewT

    Somehow Dana has to be woven back into Carrie's story. You see in the preview how Carrie shows up at the Broady house. There has to be a point to keeping that going. And they totally got me to. I am hoping to see Saul go to Quinn to ask him to Shadow Carrie to try to protect her.

  • Devin McMusters

    I'm glad my relative poverty has kept me from laughing out loud every week at Mandy Patinkin's ridiculous beard.

  • Jiffylush

    The Dar Adal thing. At first he is this big menacing threat with all kinds of innuendo about the things he has done or is capable of. Now he does just seem to be Saul's employee, way too eager to do something that shouldn't require someone with Adal's supposed talents.

    It was so great to see Virgil back, and now with her not working directly with the agency I hope we will see a lot more of him. I assume he will be setting up some type of surveillance for the face to face.

    The stuff with the kids could be better, but I do generally like Dana's character and of course think Jessica can do no wrong. I realize that it makes sense for them to fade into the background with Brody apparently out of the picture. I felt like something was wrong with the boy's story about his brother's suicide but I wish we had started to see something a little dark with him before they revealed that. Even if it was just an angry outburst.

    Can't wait for next week.

  • dizzylucy

    They got me the exact same way - I thought for sure she agreed, and then ran to Saul to use it as leverage to get her life back. And then...bam. Stunned.

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