You could perform this exercise with almost any show, honestly, and arrive at a similar conclusion. Reduced to its barest elements, the storyline for most shows probably look preposterous. Consider the series long Breaking Bad arc: Mild-mannered science teacher turns to meth manufacturing in order to raise money for his family after his death and in a matter of years, he works his way up to brutal murderer and one of the biggest distributers of meth in the country. That’s ridiculous. The trick, however, is to take an implausible scenario and make it believable.
With Homeland, if you reduce the plot to its barest form, one of two things is going to happen: Either it’s going to validate your feelings about how absurd this series has become, or it’s going to confirm your feelings about what an amazing show it is because it has managed to make an implausible scenario completely believable. Personally, I am of the opinion that Homeland has stretched its storyline beyond credulity (and I am not alone), while others believe that the season had not only been good and that it’s back to its old self.
Different strokes, of course, but I think we can all agree that, after distilling the show down to its barest plot elements, that Homeland should not work. The difference of opinion comes in whether you believe it does, or it doesn’t.
1. During a Congressional hearing following the bombing of the CIA, in which 238 people perished,, Saul outs his case officer, Carrie, as having had a relationship with Nicholas Brody, the man purportedly responsible for blowing up Langley.
2. In retaliation, Carrie attempts to reveal CIA secrets to the press. To prevent that, Saul has her institutionalized in a mental ward.
3. While in the mental ward, Javadi — the man who financed the bombing of the CIA headquarters — arranges to offer Carrie a consulting position, in which she would exchange CIA secrets for money. Carrie — presumably miffed with Saul and the CIA for institutionalizing her — agrees.
4. It turns out, the institutionalization was all part of Saul’s master plan in order to lure Javadi out of hiding. Once Javadi figures this out, and before Saul can bring him in, Javadi kills his ex-wife (and daughter-in-law) because they left him nearly 30 years ago.
5. Instead of arresting and putting the man responsible for the Langley bombing on trial, Saul turns Javadi into a double agent and sends him back to Iran.
6. Meanwhile, the man who physically placed the bomb that blew up Langley is killed by an agent for the middle man that arranged the bombing of Langley. The middle man, who connected the financier to the bomber, is not arrested, though the CIA knows who he is and where he is. However, Carrie is shot in the shoulder by her CIA colleague for attempting to prevent the middle man from shooting the Langley bomber.
7. Elsewhere, Nicholas Brody — who had been wrongly accused of bombing Langley — fled to South America, where some people inexplicably took him in, locked him in a cell, and gave him an endless supply of heroin. He spent weeks injecting the drug, and nearly died.
8. Saul locates Brody in South America, pulls him out, and using a drug not allowed in the United States, completely rehabs Brody for a near lethal heroin addiction in a matter of days, with the intention of sneaking Brody into Iran and using him to assassinate Iran’s military leader, which Saul plans to replace with Javadi, the man who financed the bombing of the CIA.
9. During a covert operation that nearly goes awry, Nicholas Brody manages to get into Iran, where Javadi finds him, and presumably plans to assist Brody in assassinating his boss.
10. Carrie, who has been institutionalized, who has been taking a steady diet of medication, who went on frequent alcohol and sex benders early in the season, and who was shot in the shoulder, is pregnant with Brody’s baby. It appears that she plans to keep the child.
So, to sum up: The acting director of the CIA, Saul, is using the father of Carrie’s baby — who is also a recovering heroin addict accused of blowing up the CIA building — to assassinate the Iranian military leader, so that Saul can install as the new Iranian military leader the man who actually financed the bombing of the CIA.