Good news! After being hospitalized for exhaustion, Homeland appears to be on the mend: getting its exercise, enjoying the outdoors, and managing to follow several narratives at once. That paranoid color is back in its cheeks. Thank God!
Or should I say: Thank Saul?
Game On has a little something for everyone. It’s got medical drama, the soft creepiness of Big Law, some retro teen-runaway business, and the reunion of our favorite mentor and protegee. In between, we get to watch Leo escape from
juvie Teen Promises, watch the kids fence a car, welcome back a couple of long-lost friends, see Hot Supermarket Ginger again, and worry about Carrie.
By the time Carrie appears at Saul’s house, we’re sure she’s the defeated pariah of the decade. Her bank accounts and credit are frozen, her car’s been repossessed, and her passport is invalid. Carrie is less welcome in Washington than Ted Cruz. So when she drops the pay dirt on bad guy Javadi, it’s a revelation: to Saul, and to us.
You’re an amazing person, Carrie Mathison. – Saul
It’s a credit to the writing and pacing of this episode that we don’t see the twist coming. Carrie’s distress on the psych ward is so real we don’t see it as cover for anything else, least of all deeper collusion with Saul. Clearly, no one else does either: not even stately old company man Dar Adal. This is a change from previous episodes, and a hopeful sign of what’s to come.
Now that everyone is back together — Saul and Carrie on the covert-ops down low, Jessica and Mike on parent detail, Dana and Leo on the run — what else does this episode give us?
A nice bit of psych-care cynicism. “Don’t forget to tell the board how grateful you are for their help in your recovery,” Carrie’s lawyer advises; her nurse agrees. This is an echo of what Dana told her mother about inpatient care: it’s something you have to do until the people paying for it feel good enough about themselves to decide you’re better. If you’ve ever been a mental health care consumer, this bit of wisdom might ring the real-talk bell for you.
A seasoned, believable agent of badness. Leland Bennett (Martin Donovan) is the soft-spoken, supremely creepy law-firm partner who insists on meeting Carrie in person. His client is presumably Javadi himself, the CIA’s most wanted man. This dude has a definite knack for spinning a dark web.
What you are is a liability to a lot of people who have a lot to lose. – Bennett
The CIA has chosen, as Bennett says, to “controversialize” Carrie. The leaked news of the affair, Saul’s admission to Congress that she’s bipolar: it’s all in the story they’re building, he tells her. “It’s about you.” This story would end in her death.
A nice bit of shadow play between Virgil and Carrie. We thought she’d go to him when she ran out of options. We don’t expect him to already be under CIA surveillance when this happens — and we really don’t expect how deftly he’ll alert her to that.
Tell your mom I said hi. – Virgil
As we know, Carrie’s mother is absent — from her family and her life. This comment is a bit of quick thinking on Virgil’s part, but it comes from deep knowledge of Carrie. It’s exactly the jolt she needs to get outside her own head. Beautifully done.
An on-the-lam bit straight out of Psycho. After Dana rescues Leo from his jailbreak, the kids decide to trade in the car at
California Charlie’s a shady garage in the middle of nowhere. They can’t get any cash out of the deal, but they do get to brag a little: Dana glows as she compares herself and Leo to Natural Born Killers. The glow fades when she realizes the mechanic might see her that way already. Sure beats her mom’s view!
She didn’t steal the car. She said she was going to Trader Joe’s. – Jess
Jessica! How can you be so innocent? Dana is miles away right now! She didn’t go to Trader Joe’s! She doesn’t have a headache! She has your forty thousand dollars in her handbag, and for all we know that boy is making her sandwiches and milk for dinner!
- Saul wants to get Javadi in a room. “I want to rip him down to the studs.” I suspect that’s intelligence-speak for “waterboard him,” but what is more remarkable is that we’re this far into season 3 and haven’t gotten a good look at the bad guy yet.
- Nice touch of the night: the birdsong in the silence, as Carrie considers Bennett’s calm list of ways the CIA might decide to kill her.
- The Mike Watch has ended at last! I can’t be sure, but I think he might just have spent part of his bachelor downtime taking Boring Lessons.
- And Virgil! No, you still can’t borrow his van.
- On the other hand, the Chris Watch is on. No Chris Brody this episode, Homeland fans. Not a scene, not a line. Seeing as how his most active role is that of Dana Defender, his absence might be the reason why his sister gets into so much trouble.
- Did I say trouble? On the Dana delinquency list this week, we have: lying, stealing and selling a car, speeding, driving while smoking pot, and sleeping in a parked car. Reciting “Kubla Khan” from memory on the grave of a dead child is sweet, but it doesn’t discount any of the other stuff.
- We’re supposed to worry about Leo now, I gather. Did his kid brother really kill himself? Or is the file Mike produced for Jess, stating that Leo shot his brother, closer to the truth? It’s a sad story either way. I wish them both well, out there in the woods with their stolen car. Crazy kids.