[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 10. There will be SPOILERS.]
It’s never a good sign when a series’ “previously on…” segment takes up such a sizable chunk of time that watching the actual episode afterward makes you feel like you’re midway through a binge-watching session. Normally, these things eat up a little bit of time just to make sure everyone’s on the same page; it starts to become troublesome when the segment is trying to explain or justify what has transpired.
Essentially, at this point in Homeland, it’s really anyone’s guess as to what is actually at stake in the series. Saul setting up his last-ditch effort to ensure the U.S. has its foot in the door with regard to its diplomatic future in Iran certainly has plenty of compelling, action-oriented moments in ‘Good Night,’ but as far as the audience having a clue as to what the big picture for the overall story of the season is, it feels like a bit of a crapshoot.
For one thing, the story is currently miles away from where the season started, and considering much of that was a rehash of storylines that’ve come before, then good for Homeland. But the story this season has been one mistaking complicated storytelling for something complex, nuanced, or intricate. With so much being piled onto a foundation that’s not necessarily built to handle such a load, it is no wonder the pre-episode recap is practically an episode unto itself.
Another bi-product of this kind of overstuffed storytelling is that much of the episode revolves around characters talking to each other about the plot, as if the writers needed an in-story version of the “previously on…” segment.
Now Homeland is typically as dialogue-heavy a show as you can get, but when no one is developing the plot or saying anything that feels compelling or particularly smart, then the whole thing starts to feel repetitive. The elements that are supposed to be important and at the forefront of the audience’s mind become tedious reminders of something they’ve already heard that hasn’t developed into anything significant.
Take Carrie’s pregnancy, for example. That plot point gets brought up in a conversation with Quinn in which he’s also reminding the audience that he shot Carrie at the end of ‘a red wheelbarrow‘; it’s all information everyone – including the characters – already has, and it’s being handled with face-time, which is different from actually dealing with the fallout or exploring the consequences of it.
Even Saul and Sen. Lockhart are guilty of it to a certain extent, rehashing their deal that pretty much puts any investigation into a Mossad agent spying on the acting head of the CIA on the furthest back burner possible.
But ‘Good Night’ at least has the tense action regarding Brody’s attempted insertion into Iran to fall back on. While much of the episode requires those in Washington to react to things happening on screen, that rather inert portion of the story is counteracted with Brody refusing to let an IED ruin his chances of getting across the border and into Iran. It’s uneven, but at least the Brody stuff is getting to something.
In that regard, Homeland continues to hint at another big event closing out the season with Nicholas Brody at the center. As the season heads into its final two episodes, it seems the series is heading toward the inevitable end of that character’s arc, but it’s something we’ve seen twice before. The show’s writers have gotten themselves out of a similar tight spot, but one has to wonder if the third time will be the charm or if it will just feel like enough is enough?
Homeland continues next Sunday @9pm on Showtime.