TV Review | ‘Homeland’ lacks intensity of previous seasons
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 01:10
The massive explosion at the end of the season two finale of “Homeland” left fans anxiously awaiting the Sept. 29 premiere of season three. Now, two episodes in, fans and the CIA are still looking for answers about the attack that killed over 200 people right inside their own headquarters. Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) has been publicly blamed for the attack, but although he is discussed extensively in the first two episodes, Brody is currently in hiding and never seen. Again, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is on a mission to prove the world wrong, this time by exonerating Brody for the bombing — viewers must once more decide if she is a genius or mentally unstable.
Regular viewers will be familiar with the ups and downs of Carrie’s battle with bipolar disorder, something she has struggled with in previous episodes. Now, however, Carrie is not only dealing with her condition, but she is also fighting against the CIA and her closest friend, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), who are all intent on blaming Brody for the attack. At this point, Danes can probably act like “crazy Carrie” in her sleep — screaming, eyes bulging, hand-wringing Carrie — but it is still incredibly unnerving to watch. The image of Carrie getting dragged out of a psychiatric commitment hearing is a new low point that elicits both sympathy and pity from audiences.
The writers’ new attempt to spice up the Carrie-against-the-world storyline by turning Saul into her enemy is simply not believable. While at times frustrating, the close relationship between Carrie and Saul has been one of the only constants in the show. In the crazy world of “Homeland,” where the line between good guy and bad guy is often blurred, the trust between Saul and Carrie has been a source of serenity for viewers. In the wake of last season’s attack, Saul was promoted to Director of the CIA, but it doesn’t seem realistic for him to entirely abandon his feelings of loyalty toward Carrie just because he has risen in the ranks.
The other main plotline of season three focuses on how Brody’s alleged bombing has affected his family, specifically his teenage daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor). With the whole world talking about the hunt for her father, Dana tries to kill herself. Viewers witness the aftermath of her suicide attempt, resulting in serious family drama. In a series that frequently depicts international assassination attempts and acts of terrorism, seeing the strained relationship between Dana and her mother brings a sense of reality to the show.
However, it is clear that “Homeland” is struggling to regain some of its past intensity. “Homeland” is not “Glee” (2009-present) — for the show to focus so heavily on Dana’s teenage rebellion is completely out of place. It’s almost as if the writers conducted a Google search for “ways teenage girls act out” and picked the top three hits. They have not done a good job of justifying Dana’s sexting or sneaking out, and her anger with the world about her father is understandable but ultimately not enough. The writers have also completely ignored how Dana’s mother and brother are dealing with their own feelings — viewers are reassured they are fine and told to concentrate on Dana.
Season three would certainly benefit from the return of Brody, which is rumored to happen in episode three. It will also be interesting to see what is in store for Fara (Nazanin Boniadi), the hijab-wearing banking analyst introduced in episode two. So far the writers of “Homeland” have demonstrated that no target is off limits and seem to have an endless supply of terrorists they can create. Now, they must either bring back Brody and tie up the loose ends associated with the CIA bombings or create an entirely new threat to give season three any hope of picking up.