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.
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.
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.”
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).
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.
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?
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?