Have you missed Homeland? Have you found yourself at any point over the past year wondering how Brody was faring in the cold Canadian winter, or how much weed Dana was numbing her grief with, or how many randoms Carrie had picked up with her faux-engagement ring act in classy jazz clubs, or whether Estes and Walden were smoking cigars together in that great CIA chief gentlemen’s club in the sky?
I haven’t, frankly, although from time to time Showtime would release a trailer, or there’d be a cover shoot with Claire Danes and Damian Lewis for Vogue by Annie Leibovitz, or a mind-numbingly poorly acted fake documentary about the 12/12/12 CIA bombings that lasted for a staggering nine minutes, and I’d cast my mind back to those halcyon days of prayer mats, mysterious green pills, and Virgil’s Mystery Machine, and sigh a little longingly. Season two of Homeland done me wrong (you can read about it here). Would season three return, like a carrot-topped ex-Marine on the run, and make things right again?
It’s a little too soon to tell, at least judging by tonight’s episode, “Tin Man Down,” which had its roses (no awkward Brody/Carrie clinches, no far-fetched death plots, very good acting, a hottie lawyer named Portillo) and its thorns (horrible dialogue, lots of Carrie crazyface, and an actual scenario in which Congress wants to disband the CIA). There were events that seemed to have been directly ripped from Bourne movies and Breaking Bad, and at one point Carrie stormed into a restaurant, pointed at Dar Adal, and yelled at Saul: “Why don’t you ask him, your little lap dog? Except he’s trained to kill.” Don’t ask who came up with that line, or how Claire Danes managed to say it without laughing, but now that Pulitzer-winning playwright Tracy Letts is in the cast maybe he can do some edits.
Anyway, like I said, roses and thorns. “Tin Man Down” opens with a shirtless Peter Quinn (major rose) making a bomb in a tatty kitchen somewhere exotic/sans air conditioning (there are lots of fans blowing—we find out later it’s Caracas). Cut to Carrie testifying in a closed gallery somewhere to a congressional panel headed by Senator Andrew Lockhart (Letts), a man who looks like Dick Cheney but apparently has none of his charm. It has now been 58 days since 219 Americans lost their lives at Langley, a nice piece of explication Lockhart helpfully gives us, and the CIA is a national laughingstock. “The agency is now crippled, its managerial ranks decimated, and its reputation in tatters,” says Lockhart, succinctly. Carrie has an agency-appointed lawyer, Erin Kimball (Amy Morton, who coincidentally starred with Letts in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf), and she (Carrie) makes a minor cryface when she tells Lockhart that not only was she outsmarted, but that she will never forgive herself for it.
Saul, standing by the wreckage at Langley, is wearing a flat cap, proving that all is not wrong with the world. He’s with über-clandestine agent Dar Adal, who apparently is not so clandestine now that the CIA has no leaders left. He feels bad about leaving Carrie to face Lockhart alone, since Lockhart’s “had a hard-on for the CIA since Abu Ghraib” (ew), but Dar Adal thinks her history as a complete lunatic might make her a useful sort of person to blame for all the trouble the agency currently finds itself in. Speaking of which, the fact that no one’s started rebuilding Langley says to Saul that Congress wants to put the CIA out of business.
Carrie’s still testifying and facing the cold, dead eyes of the man who wrote August: Osage County. Someone has leaked the memo offering Brody immunity to Lockhart and he isn’t happy, and neither is Carrie’s lawyer. Carrie perjures herself by saying she knows nothing about it, and then makes things worse by telling Lockhart she doesn’t think Brody’s the bad guy, at which point Lockhart actually asks her what she’s smoking and her lawyer drags her away, pointing out that the CIA’s deal with Brody is the one thing no one can know about because it would bury the agency. Carrie storms off to call Saul (better call Saul!) and Erin looks at Carrie’s bonkers notepad, which seems to have been inspired by another of Mandy Patinkin’s famous roles, since it consists of scribbles saying things like, “You killed my son. Prepare to die.”
We finally see Dana, who’s sitting in a circle of trust in what looks like rehab, and reassuring a group leader that she’ll remember the tools she learned about meditation and taking things one day at a time. There’s a boy making googly eyes at her whom she’s presumably sleeping with. Jessica, with longish hair but as lovely as ever, heads into a nearby office and talks to a man about how the whole family can recover from Dana getting into the bathtub and slitting her wrists (so much sad for Dana). The man advises therapy for everyone, only Jess has no money since the Marines have cut her off and her mother has had to reverse-mortgage her house to pay for Dana’s rehab. Speaking of Dana, she’s smooching that boy outside and he’s showing her the cellphone he has, presumably against all rehab rules. She gets the best line in the whole episode when he tells her to stay in touch and she replies that she’s probably going to be under mad surveillance. “Right, your mom,” he says. “No, the FBI,” she replies. Classic. Jess finally gets her in the car and there are camera crews everywhere and it’s horrible, and poor Dana looks like a deer in headlights.
Saul is planning a conveniently timed takedown of all six of the very bad terrorists who masterminded the Langley plot, including one Iranian called Majid Javadi who hasn’t been seen in public since 1994 and everyone thinks he’s dead but Saul knows better. The plan is to kill all six at once, which is why Peter Quinn is in Caracas. Later, we see Saul go home and have a pretty sad drunk conversation with Mera in which he refuses to acknowledge that they’re sleeping in separate bedrooms and she has to help him up to bed and take his shoes off because he’s taking coping lessons from Carrie, apparently.
Carrie has a new wall of crazy in her apartment, this time with bits of colored string leading to places Brody has possibly been sighted. Her dad takes one look at this and immediately confronts her about going off her medication. Carrie says she’s medicating herself with “exercise and meditation,” which her dad surmises from a look at her trash actually means tequila. She blames her meds for making her fuzzy, a lot like the end of season one.
Dana is home with Grandma, who doesn’t know who Beowulf is. Duh, old people. Chris has grown about three feet and his voice has broken, and he’s adorable. Jessica has had the bathroom redone, and Dana stares at it for a while before going to her room, taking off her bra, and sexting her new boyfriend, which is a horrible, horrible, horrible idea and also ripped out of a Lifetime movie. That said, Morgan Saylor does tremendous acting in this scene without any lines at all, and again proves herself to be one of Homeland’s strongest and most understated performers.
Carrie’s back with Lockhart again, who wants to know where she was while she was unaccounted for in the 14 hours after the Langley bombing. She can’t tell him she was helping Brody escape to Canada, so she tells him she passed out in the ladies’ room, which he rolls his eyes at. He calls her “silent as a sphinx,” which I roll my eyes at. She pleads the fifth, and he tells her he knows she’s hiding something and when he finds out what it is, he’s going to put the whole lot of them in jail.
Saul, who’s been trying to decide whether to go ahead with the six-people-killing-operation, looks out at the wreckage and says, “Take ’em. Take ’em all.” Daddy’s mad. Peter Quinn gets the go-ahead and starts pursuing a man on his motorcycle; he’s about to attach a bomb to the man’s moving car when he sees the face of a small child inside (Bourne trope). Instead, he calls home, uses the bomb to cause a distraction, chases the man inside his Venezuela fortress, and kills everyone he runs into (more Bourne), including the target, who’s hiding under his desk. Then he hears noises outside and shoots, and goes out the door to find the body of the child he refused to kill earlier, wearing a rainbow T-shirt, no less. Remember Quinn’s weird relationship with his girlfriend and child in Philly? I’m sensing this won’t make things easier for them. Still, the CIA get all the other targets, and everyone is happy, and Dar Adal congratulates Saul, which is as sure a sign as ever that he’s done something shady and/or morally destitute. No one mentions Walt’s Waffles.
Carrie picks up a redhead while she’s out buying fifty bottles of vodka and has sex with him on the stairwell of her house and makes horrible noises. Her dad wakes her up the next day when he calls to tell her there’s a story in the newspaper about an anonymous CIA agent who had a sexual relationship with Brody (unless Peter Quinn’s even more nuanced a character than we thought, no prizes for guessing who it is). Ew to talking about sex with your dad. Carrie storms into the clubby, wood-paneled restaurant where Saul and Dar Adal and some other CIA guys are yukking it up and yells the silly lap dog line at Saul and reams him out for selling her out, and he tells her to calm down and have some tiramisu (???). She leaves, Saul accuses Dar Adal of leaking the story to the paper, and Dar Adal swears it wasn’t him, sir. So who was it? THE MOLE??? I don’t even remember what the mole did anymore, and hopefully he died in the explosion at Langley because man, was that a long time ago and I don’t think I even care at this point.
At the Brody house, things are kind of uncomfortable over dinner when Grandma talks about Brody, and how he wanted to be a teacher, but he always did what he wanted so he joined the Marines and then 9/11 happened. It’s awkward, so Dana tells the following joke, which is bizarrely the most adorable moment in the episode: “What did the optimist say as he was jumping off a building? So far so good . . .” Later, she overhears Grandma telling Jess that Dana didn’t really mean to kill herself, and looks even more perturbed. Then she gets her own topless selfie from the rehab boy, so hooray, gender equality.
Saul testifies to Congress, and unlike Carrie, who’s clandestine, there are tons of press there while he talks about the six coordinated strikes, which Lockhart derides as “convenient.” Then Saul tells Lockhart that the agent mentioned in the newspaper was unstable and bipolar and also sleeping with Brody, yes. Carrie cries watching the hearing on C-SPAN. This is how you spell “S-O-L-D O-U-T,” kids.
Don’t sext, Dana. Please don’t. Meditate, or smoke some weed, or go into the garage and dig up your dad’s old prayer mat, but don’t sext. But if you must, use Snapchat so he can’t sell it to the papers. All teenage boys are evil.
Where the goddamn hell is Mike? Jessica could sure use his help right now. Except he’s selfishly jumped over to an NBC drama and will presumably never be heard from again.
Carrie’s own brand of crazy is getting just a teensy bit tiresome. I know it’s her thing, but it’s so much. Maybe Dana can teach her how to emote without her eyes rolling into the back of her head? But fat chance, since Claire Danes just picked up her second Emmy in a row and is thusly the acting toast of Tinseltown.
Grandma sucks, and I can’t think who plays her and can’t find it on the interwebs, so tell me in the comments, if you please.
Could Congress really shut down the CIA? I mean, really? Would the NSA step in since it’s reading all our e-mails and texts already? Who would spy on the Russians? I e-mailed Shane Harris, senior writer at Foreign Policy and all-around national security expert, to ask if this is a thing that could actually happen, and he replied that it seemed “pretty farfetched,” although technically speaking, it is a thing that they could do. So there you go.
No Galvez? Is he still alive?
What did you think about the season premiere of Homeland? Let us know in the comments.