‘Homeland’: Letting the Inner Spy Out

Published 9 months ago by

Mandy Patinkin and Tracy Letts in Homeland The Yoga Play Homeland: Letting the Inner Spy Out

[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]

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The storyline for Homeland began in such a way that the audience was thrust into a strange and dangerous situation involving the return of Sgt. Brody that in many ways triggered the deterioration of Carrie Mathison’s mental state. That particular dynamic was undoubtedly what captivated everyone watching during the first season, and it has been an aspect the show has repeatedly attempted to recreate with varying degrees of success.

One of the reasons that element of the show is so difficult to capture again is because it all hinged on what we didn’t know about the characters and, more to the point, what they didn’t know about one another. But now the proverbial cat is out of the bag and while Carrie and Brody have grown closer, and we as the audience have gotten to know them better, there is still one aspect of Carrie Mathison that we haven’t really seen yet, and that is: Carrie operating in the field as a spy.

For much of seasons 1 and 2, Carrie was operating under extreme duress and anxiety over not only her apprehension with regard to the complicated relationship she had developed with a sleeper agent, but she was also operating out of fear that another 9/11-like attack on the U.S. was imminent. Obviously, as a result of several different factors, she was unable to prevent that attack from happening and several hundred people lost their lives. But now we know everything that’s happened in season 3 (much of which was part of an elaborate ruse cooked up by Saul and Carrie in response to the Langley bombing) is an attempt to show just how good a spy Carrie can be, and why she’s not only Saul’s protégé, but why he’d be willing to use her in an incredibly sensitive operation like drawing out Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub, Iron Man).

Claire Danes and Rupert Friend in Homeland The Yoga Play Homeland: Letting the Inner Spy Out

A lot of Saul’s decisions – as they pertain to Carrie – appear to fly directly in the face of common sense, but they have to be based on something. To its credit, Homeland is trying to rebuild the standing of its characters by demonstrating their ability to do the job the series and its storyline needs them to do. And although she’s possibly the most unreliable character on television at the moment (a fact that actually makes her compelling), the writers still have at their disposal an unexplored facet of Carrie that makes her compelling. The exploration of Carrie’s abilities in the field as a spy opens up a whole new arena for the character, in terms of what the audience has seen from her.

Unlike Brody, whose past was revealed as part of his motivation to strap on a bomb vest in season 1, Carrie’s past was really only explored insomuch as it pertained to her failures, and her story from then on became an extension and, arguably, a progression of failures that now threatens to put the entire CIA in the hands of the guy who wrote Killer Joe (Tracy Letts).

There have been hints and suggestions of Carrie’s abilities in the world of spycraft, but we’ve never really been able to see them in a non-Brody related manner until now. And although Brody is still the catalyst for what she’s doing, the fact that he’s out of the picture (for the time being) may be exactly what the character needs in order to let her inner spy out, to do some much-needed good.

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Homeland continues next Sunday with ‘Still Positive’ @9pm on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

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7 Comments

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  1. The best episode of the season so far. By quite a considerable distance actually. Two primary reasons for this:

    It offered logicality to a twist that had little. The problem with the twist was one of reflection. The amount of shots which catered to fooling the audience but were not actually necessary to the narrative and if anything, took you out of plausibility (criminal for a show that promotes this as its main selling point). Certain things happened in the episode that, if not so much legitimised the twist, made it infinitely more acceptable (to a more forgiving mind). Important because…

    This was essentially a pause episode and was therefore all the better for it. My fear (following the twist) was the template of S2 after the hotel room reveal, that it would just rattle off nonsense at such a speed that blinds the audience into submission of thought and rational. I am delighted it chose to breathe then. Now we are moving back into foreign territory with some of the principal characters, but now we are also taking our time in getting to learn about them once more.

    The angle of Saul now knowing his time is essentially up is also fascinating. I wonder just how far he is going to push certain scenarios…

  2. I think you’re onto something in so much as there is this “super spy” arena to Carrie that still can be mined for character growth and audience excitement but I am really discouraged by the fact that Brody has all but left the show and left in his stead his obnoxious family. As a fulcrum for Brody’s journey, his family was tolerable, but without his presence, they really have a tendency to drag the show down. Not sure how Brody will ever be integrated back into the story, as a central piece rather than a peripheral player, but it’s a move that ought to be made sooner rather than later.

  3. I liked this episode more than the previous one, but we need some Brody.

    Question: What was the Dana storyline supposed to lead up to? Seems like it has ended and will fizzle away into irrelevance.

  4. This episode is considerably the best so far in the season.

  5. Unless Dana’s boyfriend is a spy of some ones making I find the entire storyline irrelevant and have actually fast forwarded thru some of it. It doesn’t drive the main plot in any way. I would be happy seeing Brody’s struggle and Carries attempts to exonerate him as the only story’s to follow…

  6. If this had been a half-hour show that focused on the Carrie-Saul-Quinn storyline, it would have been a 9.5 out of 10. The inclusion of the Brody family storyline (which ended up going nowhere) dragged it down to 7 for me. I get that the reason why we’re seeing Brody’s family nearly every episode is that it’s going to play a major role (probably with the daughter) in integrating Nicholas Brody back into the storyline but at this point they’ve been such a drag on the story that I wish he’d died in the bombing last season or better still, in the bunker in Season 1.

  7. My fingers are crossed that this was the last we’ll see of Dana’s boyfriend and that 24ish plot line.
    I have and will still defend Dana’s part in this season but the arc plays better when it’s kept in house between the Brody’s. There plenty of story to tell about a family dealing with such a mind boggling betrayal but there’s no need for the story to go Bonnie and Clyde.

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