Until the last five minutes of “Game On,” the fourth episode of the third season of Homeland, I hated the episode. It was slow, circuitous, and seemingly pointless. It felt like another filler episode in a season full of filler episodes. It was a lot of Carrie walking from point A to point B, running in circles to escape one party only to end up in the arms of another. But then the last five minutes happened, and suddenly, the words that Saul spoke to Quinn two episodes ago suddenly made sense. “Have faith,” he told Quinn. “We’re on to something, and if it leads to where we think, it will have all been worth it.”
At least where it concerns the Carrie plotline, maybe Saul was right. There is a master plan at play (and a brilliant one, at that). As to everything else? The jury is still out.
Let’s start with the excruciating part:
Dana Brody. UGH. — Leo (i.e., Zach from Dexter) escaped his psych ward with Dana.Then Mike Faber shows up! He’s still around; I guess The Blacklist let him have the day off to film a few scenes for Homeland. He’s there to help Jessica (along with Leo’s parents) track down Leo and Dana, although Leo’s parents are very judge-y, citing Dana as a bad influence on account of the fact that her Dad supposedly blew up the CIA. GOD. WAY TO JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS.
Anyway, Leo and Dana trade their car for a crappier one, and suddenly, THIS PLOTLINE JUST GETS MORE AND MORE EXCITING. Leo takes Dana to his brother’s gravestone and tells Dana that his brother took his own life. Then Dana takes Leo to where Brody said the last true thing he’d ever said to her: “Goodbye.” Everything after that was a lie, she says. This is scintillating, people. SCINTILLATING.
But there is a TWIST. We find out, from Mike, that Leo’s brother didn’t kill himself. Leo actually took his father’s gun and apparently killed his own brother. Leo struck a deal to go to the psych ward to prison. And now, I guess, we’re supposed to fear for Dana’s life because she’s banging a murderer, who is not exactly what he seems.
In the midst of all this, Jessica also has a scene with Mike where she blames everything on Brody. “I could kill him, Mike. I swear to God, I could,” she says.
The big question here remains: How does the Dana/Leo/Jessica subplot tie into the rest of the series? Unless Dana’s life is put in danger, and Brody somehow hears about it in Venezuela and decides to return, none of this seems to matter. Showrunner Alex Gansa’s comments about Dana’s plotline aren’t exactly confidence inspiring, either. He says that the Dana plotline well intersect with the main plotline on an “emotional level.” What the hell does that mean? I don’t want it to intersect on an emotional level, I WANT IT TO INTERSECT ON A REAL LEVEL.
Fara Sherazi — Barney Stinson’s ex-wife from How I Met Your Mother continues to follow the money, and she has followed it to the owner of a soccer team. This side-plot is kind of muddled and confusing, and there are a lot of words spoken between Sherazi and Saul that don’t meant too much, but the take home is this: They know that Javadi has embezzled $45 million over the last 10 years using his soccer team to launder the money. Saul could turn him into the Iranian authorities, and he’d be executed, but Saul wants to nab him, bring him in, and interrogate the sh*t out of him.
Carrie Mathison — It was a short, 48 minute episode of Homeland last night, and up until the last three minutes of the episode, I continued to be frustrated. None of it made any damn sense. Here are the notes I took during the episode with regard to Carrie’s plotline, which should illustrate what a frustrating 45 minutes it was:
There’s new blood in the psych ward, a crazy lady screaming her fool head off. What is this become? Girl, Interrupted? Or the last season of American Horror Story? When will the aliens arrive? Carrie meets all criteria for release, but her Dad and sister are not present at the hearing (and Dar Adal makes a backdoor appearance). Carrie is denied release because the “government fears she may reveal classified information.” She’s been designated a security risk.
Then, TWIST: Carrie is suddenly released. The guy from THE FIRM arranged her release in exchange for a meeting. Carrie agrees, but then plans an escape. That proves difficult, however, because her car is taken and her assets are frozen. Virgil warns her away from the CIA (“Say hi to your mother!”). Carrie then tracks down the dude she banged from the liquor store. He’s a total skeeve. They bang, then Carrie takes some money and leaves, but THE FIRM guy is waiting for her. How did he find her? UH, Carrie still has her phone. SHE’S F*%CKING CIA, HOW DID SHE NOT KNOW? Also, it basically nullfies the last 20 minutes. What was the f**king point of going through all of that, if she’s still going to end up meeting with THE FIRM?
THE FIRM is headed by Leland Garret, played by the always oily Martin Donovan.
THE FIRM has a client who wants to pick Carrie’s brain about CIA intel (Javadi?). THE CLIENT is tied up with Iran, and it has to do with Israel or something. Leland tells Carrie that they’ve “controversialized” her, which is to say: They made the story about Carrie instead of about the Langley Bombing. He basically tells Carrie that the CIA is destroying her, and will eventually kill her if she doesn’t kill herself (now, this sounds like Alias, which is to say, it’s slightly more interesting than it was 10 minutes ago). That worked! Carrie is convinced. Carrie will not, however, name names, and she insists on speaking only to THE CLIENT.
Meanwhile, Saul and Dar Adal plan to track her down, but Carrie makes it easier by showing up at Saul’s place.
WOAH! WHAT? Carrie takes all that information she got from Leland to Saul. THEY WERE WORKING TOGETHER THE WHOLE TIME. HOLY SH*T! MIND BLOWN.
OK. I bought it all hook, line, and cry-face. It never occurred to me that Saul and Carrie were working together. I mean, yes: It had occurred to all of us that Saul was working an angle, but it never occurred to me that Carrie was in on it, too. The question is: How long has she been in on it? My first thought was that Saul brought Carrie in on the plan when he visited the psych ward, when Carrie is drugged and crying. But that came after Saul told Quinn to have faith. So, I think that Carrie was probably in on it the ENTIRE TIME, which is to say that she went to the press and threatened to leak details on orders from Saul, and the entire season has basically been an act, including Carrie’s meltdown in the restaurant in front of Dar Adal, because he’s obviously not in on the scheme (Alex Gansa confirms this, saying that the plan has been in the works since days after the bombing).. Clearly, Dar Adal can’t be trusted, either (which explains why she hushed up when Adal walked in on Saul and Sherazi.
The master plan, I’ll admit, was brilliant, but it’s not without its faults. For one, it didn’t make the last two episodes any more interesting to sit through. Second of all, it nullifies the Carrie/Brody parallels in last week’s episode, since Carrie’s half of that equation was all a ruse. Third, I still have no idea how Brody fits into all of this, and maybe that will become apparent soon (the fact that Javadi is using a bank in Venezeula — where Brody is — to launder his money will probably be important).
All I know is that for two minutes, I actually found myself intrigued by this season. I am actually looking forward to next week’s episode, instead of dreading it. Maybe now that the plan has come together, this season can finally start moving forward.