Homeland: 3.06 - Still Positive - Review
The original Homeland villain, you'll recall, was vague Bin Laden impersonator Abu Nasir, and although he worked okay as the power behind the throne in the original Brody storyline, he really didn't stand up well to harder scrutiny. By the end of season two, he had devolved into supervillain territory and his death was a mercy. New bad guy Javardi - aka "The Magician" - is now getting a proper intro after five episodes of build-up and so far... yes, I fear this man more.
Not to mention, I think I'm starting to fear one of our heroes a little. Which one? Find out below the spoiler-breaking picture, and go to 4oD if you want to see the episode first.
Evil And EvillerAlthough the Magician arc has been running since the first episode of this season, we've been distracted by a lot of business with Carrie and Saul - which, it turns out, was all part of their plan to gain his trust. Now we're halfway through the season, and I'll give them credit for knowing what they're doing, although some of those early episodes were still kinda dull to sit through. There's only so much you can redeem with these late-in-the-day twists.
But now we're right in the thick of it, with a tense face-off between Javardi and Carrie, followed by one of the most unpleasant scenes Homeland has ever attempted, as Javardi launches a bloody attack on his ex-wife just to stick to Saul one last time. It was uncomfortable viewing, but also hard to look away from, and gives Javardi a genuine menace and horror we never really got from Abu Nasir.
At the other end of this episode's action, Saul is besieged by the loss of his job, his relationship crumbling all over again and the increasingly grim decisions he's forced to make. The writers are going a long way towards making Saul morally ambiguous this year, rather than the lovable big bear of previous seasons, and so far it's made the character more interesting without seeming like a strange personality shift. Kudos to Mandy Patinkin for pulling off the performance.
Unanswerable Subplot QuestionsElsewhere, Carrie is pregnant. Whose child is it? Why didn't they notice when she was in that institution? So many questions and clearly we're not bothering with them yet, although I did enjoy the shot of her drawer full of tests. The use of her pregnancy as subtext of the scene with the baby was also a nice touch. I've no idea how this will play into the rest of the plot - did we really need another complication? - but as we learnt earlier in the review, they probably have a plan of some sort.
Back in the pocket universe of the Brody family, Dana is changing her name and leaving home. It's still forgettable, but nowhere near as outright annoying as her running off with Leo. Can't imagine that storyline won't return to bite her on the face later, but I'm enjoying its absence. Chris Brody still can't speak, and Big Daddy Brody is nowhere to be found. Maybe he really is taking the whole year off? I'm still fine without him, but got to assume his appearance in the third episode is going somewhere.
Brody or no Brody, though - if Homeland can keep deliver that level of tense, exciting spy/conspiracy drama, I'll go wherever they want. For the last few weeks, this has been one of my most anticipated shows, and that's impressive considering I considering not bothering with this third season at all briefly.