‘Homeland’ Season 3 Premiere Review

Published 10 months ago by

F. Murray Abraham and Mandy Patinkin in Homeland Tin Man Down Homeland Season 3 Premiere Review

After the catastrophic events of season 2, Homeland finds itself in something of a sticky situation in which all of the various machinations it has undertaken in order to keep the dynamic between the psychologically unstable, but also brilliant CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and terrorist sleeper agent/soldier/congressman, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) alive and well has meant the program may have undermined its own credibility with a portion of its audience.

Like it or not, Showtime executives ultimately call the shots when it comes to newly christened award factories like Homeland, and the prospect of obliterating that glorious shot at prestige for something as simple as the natural progression of said program’s storyline is practically unheard of.

However, the first thing you may notice in the season 3 premiere, ‘Tin Man is Down,’ is that it operates entirely without an appearance from Nicholas Brody. Of course, Brody’s been on the run since last season’s devastating terrorist attack on CIA headquarters decimated the organization, leaving several key characters dead and the show without some reliable supporting actors. Those deaths, combined with Brody’s absence generates a dearth of character that is widely felt and suggests a smart move on behalf of the show’s creators: It generates a sort of palpable tension with regard to those like Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), who, as the ones left standing, become the individuals primarily tasked with providing answers to the attack, as well as acting as potential targets of the all the finger pointing that’s happening in the wake of the devastation.

The move also allows Homeland the opportunity to shift familiar dynamics around in one sense or another, and, hopefully, to explore the stories of several other supporting characters. Early on it’s clear that the great F. Murray Abraham’s Dar Adal will have a greatly expanded role in season 3, as it appears he’s been brought in to serve as an advisor to Saul in the CIA. Additionally, Adal’s protégé (and lover of olives) Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) is back doing what he does best – i.e., taking point on the assassination of a key terrorist target. Honestly, Abraham has more to do in ‘Tin Man Down,’ while Friend simply facilitates the action/thriller portion of the episode, but considering both actors provided some truly memorable moments from season 2, it’s good to see the series is rewarding them with (hopefully) expanded storylines.

Rupert Friend in Homeland Tin Man Is Down Homeland Season 3 Premiere Review

But Brody’s disappearance, and, of course, the broadcasting of his taped confession is felt well beyond the crumbling walls of the nation’s intelligence community; it has hit most forcefully in the home of the family Brody left behind. With their father labeled a terrorist, a murderer and a traitor, the Brody family has also undergone a transformation of sorts – one that goes beyond the clearly physical transformations of child actors from year to year – and experienced dramatic events of its own.

For her part, Dana (Morgan Saylor) – who has long acted as a candid bringer of truth (for both her father and the series) – likely burdened by the traumatic events of last season that actually go far beyond the actions attributed to her father, suffered a nearly successful suicide attempt. The event, and the series’ acknowledgement of it, is one of many palpable ramifications of what the previous season’s climax left its characters with, and serves as a promotion of sorts, from supporting character, to one with perhaps a larger emotional role in the main narrative. As Saylor was a frequent highlight of season 2, this transition appears to bode well for the upcoming storyline.

That story is wisely positioned to examine the fallout from the attack that left more than 200 people dead at the end of last season and the primary suspect still at large. While certain aspects like the threat to dissolve the CIA seem drastic and maybe even unbelievable, the reactionary stance taken by those with less knowledge than the characters involved manages to support such dangers. And while those kinds of sweeping bureaucratic changes and governmental orders help make the stakes seem high in a different way than, say, the threat of yet another attack on U.S. soil, Homeland has always been a series that works best when it’s tackling the personal consequences of such large, global events.

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland Tin Man is Down Homeland Season 3 Premiere Review

And in ‘Tin Man is Down’ anyway, the show again proves how the dynamic between Carrie and Saul, and all its various complications – interpersonal and otherwise – help to elevate a series that could otherwise become too focused on the pursuit of the bad guy. Saul finds himself saddled with an immense unwanted burden as a direct result of the bombing, while his semi-estranged wife has returned home to find him unwilling to take action in either his personal or professional life, because he’s “waiting for the right answer to present itself.” One such answer comes when Saul winds up throwing Carrie under the bus while being grilled by a congressional committee.

For the most part, it’s compelling stuff, but the limitations of the ongoing story are still readily present. As interesting as Carrie is, will yet another season of superiors questioning her mental stability be enough to keep viewers interested? And while Brody’s return has already been teased, aside from a sense of familiarity, what does the series have to gain from his continued role in the narrative? We have a long way to go, but hopefully, Homeland season 3 will have answers to these questions.

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Homeland continues next Sunday with ‘Uh… Oh… Ah…’ @9pm on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

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8 Comments

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  1. I really really liked this episode.
    Personally I really like the fact that we will continue to follow Brody’s family. I know some people don’t like that part of the show and I’ll even admit that at times, especially in season 2 that it became trying to watch but I want to see the fallout of what happened and IMO you can’t just tell the story from the CIA’s perspective, you have to include the Brody’s. Let’s just hope that there’s no nosense like the stuff with the VP’s son from last season.
    It was a solid premiere IMO and I’m excited to see the rest of the season because when Homeland is firing on all cylinders I really think it’s one of the best shows on TV.

    • Yes, Kevin. I agree. The more of Brodys family the better.
      Morena Baccarin is the unspoken standout of this series.

      • I’m a newcomer to this series. I caught up online and I thought this was a very solid premiere. I felt like they were going to give us a tease of Brody at least, probably in the very last scene, but it didn’t happen, and while I’m irritated I can’t just click on to the next episode, it didn’t seem inappropriate that the stage gets set at home before finding Brody abroad.

        This show really blew me away with the caliber of acting and writing. As far as a combination of those two things in a cable TV series, this is about as good as it gets, imo. I’m glad to see Quinn continuing to develop as well.

        • Peter Quinn has been a welcome addition and
          Rupert Friend is a revelation at being cool and lethal.

  2. I think this show is too wrapped up in Carrie Matheson’s mental illness. This is starting to feel like they don’t know what to do with her character. She is extremely interesting as a character but I just don’t feel the same about this show as I did in the first two seasons. Also, this show does not have a clear endgame. When all is said and done with this show, where will we be? From season 1 episode 1 of shows like Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy, we have a good idea of how everything will end and that there will be an end. I am starting to grow concerned about this show’s direction.

    • A little early for that, isn’t it? You liked the first two seasons but the first episode is reason for worry? Very few shows are crafted in the way Breaking Bad was (I can’t speak for SOA) with a fully rendered story told in five seasons. The best we can hope for with most shows, including this one, is that the writing keeps it up and keeps the story interesting. This show has a particular challenge since the stakes have already gotten so high in two seasons. It makes me worry where they will go and excited about the possibilities at the same time. As far as Carrie’s bipolar disorder, I know it may start to feel repetitive, but, on the other hand, it wouldn’t be right to let that part of her character disappear either. It makes her interesting and dangerous while giving her preternatural detective skills. It’s like a flawed super-power. J/K, but really, if she wasn’t acting like this, especially since she never stops getting seriously rocked emotionally (like Brody), it would be weird.

  3. The HOMELAND premiere was its its highest-rated premiere
    episode besting its season two debut by nine percent.

    This after the the premiere episode was leaked online a few
    weeks ago and similar results have occurred with other leaked
    properties leading one to wonder if it’s the show that’s the source.

  4. i was skeptical before the premier, but it very much liked this episode. you have sucked me back in homeland.

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