Homeland: 3.08 - A Red Wheelbarrow

One day, Homeland will broadcast a single episode with all its storylines and characters touched upon. One masterful effort that gives us a sweeping look at where the entire show is right now, and then flies ahead to where it might be going. One day, that might happen, and this is probably the closest we've come to it in a while - the only major players missing are Jivardi and the Brody family, and I don't care that much about the latter. It seems like the writers may have finally given up on trying to crowbar them into episodes, and it's about time.

So, does that make for exciting TV? Will we see a massive shift towards progress as Homeland season three concludes its second third? Let's find out. Watch on 4OD to avoid spoilers.


CIA discipline - IT HURTS

After last week's thumping hints from Jivardi, both Carrie and Saul are on a single track this week: seeking the bomber responsible for last season's climactic carnage. It's a good investigation, a reminder that the CIA team here are competent at their jobs and can get it done when they all put their minds to it. And then, of course, it's all nearly ruined at the last moment by Carrie Matheson running into the middle of the sting, desperate to save a man who can (maybe) clear Brody's name.

Right. The problem is: Homeland has several good, compelling storylines, but Carrie's doomed love for Brody is not often one of them. About the only way it works is if you take it as a symptom of Carrie's wider issues, a desperate attachment to someone she can never really have, rather than genuine troo wuv that must be protected and nurtured. Even so, how many more times can she endanger operations in the name of her obsession?

Well, happily, this isn't one of those times. Without Saul around to mollycoddle Carrie, the other CIA operatives (even the sympathetic-seeming Quinn) just roll their eyes and shoot her before she can cause trouble. It almost makes the whole sequence work, as our heroine continuing to be able to get away with this shit was really tearing at my ability to take this show seriously.

Better not call Saul

Speaking of heroin (seamless!), we get a big cliffhanger, as Saul tracks down Brody in Caracas. Will his new role be exciting and unexpected, or will he go straight back to staring at Carrie while all the storylines I've enjoyed in the last few weeks fall by the wayside? Funnily enough, I hope it's the first one.

Elsewhere, as I said, the rest of the cast are pleasingly active this week. Dar is still morally ambiguous, Saul's marital problems get real after we find out Mira's Other Man is some kind of spy and Fara is finally confronted with the reality of her new life. Most of that is good - the revelation about Alain bugging Saul's house was a little much, but this show is reliably obsessed with complicating up the lives of its heroes.

Despite my frustration with Carrie's Brody-obsession and worry about whether we're about to see that make a hard comeback, this was a good episode in itself. Enjoyable build, feeling of movement, no pointless Jess/Dana stuff. Now, final third next week. Can they nail it, or will the return of Brody ruin everything?

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