Homeland: 3.01 - Tin Man Is Down - Review
The third season of Homeland see the show still trying to answer that ultimate question: what is it about now? In the first season, it was about whether Nicholas Brody was a terrorist, culminating in the reveal that, yes, he was, and he was about to stage a terror attack in which he should probably have died. Instead, because the character had become a central part of the series, he survived, and the second year tried to run with that in logical directions.
Unfortunately, once we got past the exciting early episodes revealing Brody's secrets to the rest of the cast, it lost a lot of its fun espionage angles and became a silly actionCIA show, featuring our heroes fighting lame villain Abu Nasir and recasting Carrie and Brody from distrusted friend/foes to starcrossed true incarnation of love. Then, at the end of that season, all that got dumped on when Brody was framed for a massive explosion at CIA headquarters and forced to go on the run.
Which means, a full year after everyone said he should've been, Brody has been at least temporarily written out. So, um, what is Homeland about now?
(Spoilers. Go watch it on 4OD if need be.)
Carrie on sulkingThe problem with critiquing Homeland as it goes along is that all its episodes are small parts of a larger season-long arc without much plot of their own, and you end up both repeating yourself and not really knowing whether a storyline is entirely working until the season is over. That's particularly a problem here, because this first episode makes little effort to tell a story in its own right or give the cast a big outing to remind us what the show is about. Instead, we're right back where the finale left us, everyone is mistrusting each other thanks to Brody's alleged treachery, the government no longer trust the CIA either, and we gotta check in with almost everyone.
But, based on what little we have, this has the makings of a good idea. The premise Homeland did well in season one was the idea of whether you could trust Brody. If you're going to keep that going thematically, but without milking Brody himself to death, expand it to everyone. You don't necessarily ask whether everyone is a terrorist, but do they have each other's best interests at heart?
So we have lovable Saul finally at the end of his tether with Carrie's unreliable decisions and need to hump Brody, forced to betray her in a way that's actually quite sad for those of us who've invested in their relationship for two years. Carries behaviour is stubborn and self-destructive even by her own high standards, so even though we know it's not entirely her fault, Saul's position remains understandable (although if they're going to continue this angle, not letting him become a total villain will be a concern).
News from around the HomelandThe closest we get to an opening show-off scene was Quinn's incursion into a target's home as part of Saul's big op, killing a child by accident. Again, hard to judge the plot point until we see where it's going, but it was a very well-shot, clear action sequence, and actor Rupert Friend did a lot to put it across despite very little dialogue.
The Brody family are still in it. I assume the reason why will become clearer when Brody himself returns, but for now, it just felt like the writers wanted a chance to change the tone slightly from CIA conspiracy theory, so lobbed a few Brody kids angst scenes here and there.
For now, though, this is a direction for Homeland that has promise, although the episode itself is mostly a bitty exercise in setting up that direction. Hopefully we'll get some momentum going in future weeks, and hopefully Showtime won't just drag out and beat down this show like they did poor Dexter.