Homeland

‘Homeland’ Season 3 Finale Recap: “The Star”

This week’s Homeland jettisons the show’s usual lengthy opening credit sequence (plenty moody at first, but a reach-for-the-remote button by midway through year one), presumably due to the episode’s full-hour length—there’s no time to lose, and that urgency carries through its opening scenes, as Brody literally cleans blood from his hands. “The Star” is the season finale, so appropriately enough, it begins with a series of exits: Carrie out through the back door of her hotel, Javadi making a nervous escape of his own (not yet sure if Brody sold him out), and Brody being escorted out solemnly, then stopped—for his visitor’s pass. His escape through the gates intercut tightly with the discovery of Akbari’s body, and he just barely squeaks out. It’s another close call for Brody, but he gets away, as he always had, and (as we discussed last week), as he always does. Which is what made this finale so surprising and, ultimately, affecting. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 11 Recap: ‘Big Man in Tehran’

Following last week’s action-heavy Homeland, Slate’s Willa Paskin ran a bizarro recap insisting that the series on the verge of crossing the line into “fantasy.” “If Brody survives this mission, Homeland is a fantasy,” Paskin writes. “Homeland is ridiculous, but a word like ‘fantasy’ is a red flag. Even Homeland’s writers don’t want the show to be a ‘fantasy.’” When I read that assertion, my eyebrows furled with enough force to cause a migraine—wait a second, Homeland is just now becoming a fantasy? A show predicated on the writer’s construct/Glenn Beck wet dream of a kidnapped U.S. Marine transformed into a secret Muslim terrorist? A plot twist that revealed two different Marines had been brainwashed, and one of them faked his own death (even convincing his own would-be killer)? A series whose second-season climax concerned an assassination via remote pacemaker? (Oh, wait, maybe that’s not so fantastical.) The point is, Homeland has always been fantasy. What’s interesting about this week’s episode, “Big Man in Tehran,” is how keenly aware its creators are that it’s fantasy, and that we’re aware of it too—and how that colors where it’s going next. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 10 Recap: ‘Good Night’

When Zero Dark Thirty was released last December, there was a good deal of sneering among “TV is better than movie” types that for all of its praise and awards recognition, the picture was little more than an above-average episode of Homeland. The criticism was a dopey one, borne out of an apples-and-microwaves comparison that (as we’ve discussed before) is fundamentally silly. But the idea of putting that film and this show up against each other is impossible to escape in the most recent episode of Homeland, “Good Night,” which seems explicitly modeled on the climactic passage of Kathryn Bigelow’s movie. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 9 Recap: “One Last Time”

After sputtering, stalling, and sometimes all together stopping, we thought that Homeland was finally picking up speed on its way to the finale. Not quite. On last night’s episode “One Last Time” we’re once again in build-to-big-finish mode. The show greets us with Carrie Mathison in the hospital post-Quinn shooting her last week, leaving us with the question: is there no other way to stop a person walking toward someplace they shouldn’t be? Carrie seems to agree with Quinn’s course of action; when the doctor says that she’s lucky the wound wasn’t worse, she responds, “No, he’s just a great shot,” with a look on her face that suggests she doesn’t entirely disagree with Quinn’s well-placed bullet. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 8 Recap: “a red wheelbarrow”

The deeper we get into season three of Homeland, the more it seems that you can neatly classify each year thus far as being, primarily, about one of its leads. Season one was about Brody, season two about Carrie, and season three—after threatening, terrifyingly, to be about Dana—has turned out to be mostly interested in Saul. Its most compelling plotlines have concerned his tenure as head of the CIA, his conflicts with Senator Lockhart, his savvy use of Carrie, and his (it seems so far, anyway) strategic brilliance. And if his marital woes have been a bit of a drag, a soapy sidebar on a show that seldom does that kind of thing well, last night’s episode, “a red wheelbarrow,” indicated that there may be more to that subplot as well. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 7 Recap: “Gerontion”

These are memorable times for those of us who are dues-paying members of the Saul Berenson Fan Club. He’s had two badass moments in as many weeks: last week’s ending beat, with Saul punching Javadi dead in the face, and the climactic moment this week when, having finally had enough of Senator Lockart’s bullshit, he just locks the smug blowhard in the conference room. (His second best moment is related, the offhand instruction that “Senator Lockhart managed to get himself locked in the conference room. Can you ask facilities to let him out?”) Between those moments, a series of slow-burn interrogations of Javadi, and his marital woes, this week’s episode, “Gerontion,” is the season’s most Saul-heavy to date. And this, obviously, works in its favor. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 6 Recap: “Still Positive”

Early in its third season, Homeland seemed to be running in slow motion—and, at its worst, in reverse. But something interesting has happened in these mid-season episodes, as its plots have twisted and its storytelling has tightened: the pace has quickened, to the degree that last week’s episode and this week’s, “Still Positive,” seem to have each packed in a good two or three episodes worth of story turns. If anything, the once stagnant show is now in danger of being too fleet of foot, of being in such hurry to click through the next reveal that they’re not giving themselves adequate time to delve into each beat. But, frankly, that’s a far less worrisome problem than some of the woes they were facing early on. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 5 Recap: “The Yoga Play”

Because we live in a contrarian world where a widely held and mostly accepted view is ripe for knee-jerk reconsideration, there’s been an outbreak lately of “In Defense of Dana Brody” pieces. The trials and tribulations of Nicholas Brody’s daughter, a mild distraction last season, have been targeted by many writers (including this one) as season three’s biggest drag, so now we’re hearing how the Dana-hate is overblown, hateful, and transparently sexist, Homeland’s equivalent to the frequently worrisome online venom directed at Breaking Bad’s Skylar White. To which I say, poppycock—and last night’s episode, “The Yoga Play,” was a fine example of why. … Read More

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‘Homeland’ Season 3 Episode 4 Recap: “Game On”

The bad news, after last week’s welcome bounce-back episode, is that this week’s Homeland is, once again, Brody-free (and Dana-riffic). The good news is that after three weeks of flailing around in crazy-town, Carrie Mathison is back in play, courtesy of a beautifully executed fake-out that I’ll confess to falling for hook, line, and sinker. There’ve been long stretches of the still-young season where it seemed the show’s creative personnel didn’t know what the hell they’re doing; it’s a relief to see that at least some of that seemingly aimless storytelling had a purpose after all. … Read More

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