Homeland: 3.04 - Game On - Review

After last season was criticised for descending into overt silliness, Homeland has been really getting in our faces trying to prove that it's a proper grown-up show, with characters and deliberation and multi-faceted agendas. Unfortunately, this bid for seriousness has led to a very slow opening to the third season, picking over the developments of last year's finale more meticulously than any autopsy. This came to a head with last week's episode, in which Carrie and Brody suffered in separate rooms. For an hour.

But this week's effort is titled Game On, which implies excitement! Dynamism! Stuff happening! Let's see if they deliver - catch up on 4OD if you're worried about spoilers.


Who is your Spy King?

The bulk of this episode is taken up with the Carrie storyline, as she finally escapes the mental institution and keeps one head ahead of the CIA until she can work out what these mysterious lawyers want with her. This is fun material by itself, but is pushed into excellent territory by the scene at the end where she meets with Saul and we find out that it's all one big conspiracy against Evil.

This ties together Saul's scenes with Fara investigating the baddies, which are a little dry but at least kept the procedural momentum going, and now we have mysterious factions, Carrie as an unstable double agent and, of course, Brody who still has to fit into this somewhere (and kudos to the writers for having the restraint to leave him out again). This is enough complexity and uncertainty for Homeland to make a genuine third season out of. Game On indeed.

I also enjoyed the return of Virgil, especially the "say hi to your mom for me" line he dropped. Good to know that he's still the real king of espionage. So yes, a lot to like in this episode.

Dana should stop dating, really

And then there's Dana's storyline, which seems to exist solely to keep the Brody family section of the cast occupied. There's still hope that it's going somewhere related to the plot, I suppose - maybe Dana's ridiculous situation will help encourage Brody himself out of hiding later? Maybe the CIA will help rescue her out of guilt? Maybe she doesn't need rescuing and her new love is true? God knows.

I guess it makes sense that the teenage girl storyline is the main source of overwrought melodrama in Homeland nowadays, I'm just not entirely sure why we need it at all? Ah well. At least these scenes didn't last long.

But all told, it does feel like season three of Homeland might be getting into gear. Still think it's odd that it took a third of the season to get here - could we have done all this in an opening two-parter? - but I'm interested now, the acting and individual scenes are still largely excellent except for a few of the Dana/Jess/Mike ones. More of this next week please.

And now, to conclude this mostly upbeat review, the excellent Sesame Street parody of this show - yes, it's Homelamb. Great fun.

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