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Homeland: Season 3 - First episode reviewed

Homeland: Season 3

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE third season of Homeland hit the ground running in impressive style, combining high intensity intrigue with intriguing character development.

Opening some 50-odd days after the climactic events of season two, in which terrorists struck at the heart of the CIA, killing over 200 Americans and framing Brody (Damian Lewis) into the bargain, this placed its few survivors under intense media scrutiny.

Carrie (Claire Danes) took the brunt of the hits, as she faced an aggressive Senate Select Committee on how the CIA failed to stop the attack. But new acting director of the CIA Saul (the continually impressive Mandy Patinkin) was also feeling the pressure.

With suspicion abounding that the government intends to shut down the CIA, Saul was forced to make a compelling case for its continued survival by first striking back at those responsible for orchestrating the attacks. He then had to decide how to handle Carrie – whether to ‘throw her under the bus’ or stand by her assertions that Brody is innocent.

However, with time against both of them, and with someone leaking sensitive information about the CIA’s deals with Brody and [belatedly] Carrie’s romantic involvement, he had some tough decisions to make.

It was perhaps no surprise that given the criticism surrounding elements of Homeland‘s second season that the writers opted for a more sober, pressure cooker style opening episode. This posed intriguing questions but placed character front and centre, with only one real action sequence.

As such, it was an impressive return to the intensity of the debut season.

And there were surprises in store, the best of which was saved until last as Saul himself went before the Committee and – to all intents and purposes – betrayed Carrie for the greater good of saving the CIA and maintaining its integrity.

His decision to confirm newspaper reports of Carrie’s relationship with Brody and to divulge her bipolar history, whilst revealing that she had lied to the CIA, was a shock because it was uncharacteristic. But it placed a fascinating question mark over where that relationship goes from here… especially given the pained response from Carrie (brilliantly conveyed, as ever, by Danes) as she watched on TV.

Notable, too, was Rupert Friend’s Quinn, out in the field and the figure head of a series of kill teams, whose assassination of a high-ranking official came at cost: he also took out a boy. It should be interesting to see what kind of psychological toll that ‘error’ takes. And it’s good to see Friend being gainfully employed as he has fast become another of the show’s best assets.

There are concerns, almost inevitably. Brody’s absence was felt. And there’s the suspicion that Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) could be to Homeland what Elisha Cuthbert’s Kim Bauer was to 24 – a serious achilles heel. Her melodramatic sub-plot involving suicide attempts and – yes – another potentially ill-advised romance could yet again pull viewers away from the compelling central drama and provide unnecessary padding.

But those criticisms aside, this season three opener had plenty to grip. And we’re optimistic of another great series.