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WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Season Three, Episode Four, “Game On”

Go Caracas open a cold one and let’s discuss.

Never trust a lawyer with a kidney-shaped swimming pool. Photograph by Kent Smith for Showtime.

Well, viewers, last week we had a Colombian crime lord with a neck tattoo called El Niño who runs a 45-story squat in Caracas and is based on a real-life Colombian crime lord (not sure about the neck tattoo) called El Niño who runs a 45-story squat in Caracas. This week we have an Iranian government official and funder of terrorism called Majid Javadi whose money-laundering persona is named Nasser Hejazi, in honor of the real-life goalkeeper from the 1978 Iran World Cup team. I don’t know about you guys, but having to Google all these people is really starting to distract from the rest of the show.

Homeland has always prided itself on replicating the real world of counterterrorism and espionage as much as possible, which is what makes things like Fake Farragut Square (season one), Carrie rejoining the CIA (season two) and the whole Abu Nazir hiding in plain sight in the US sh*tshow (or, basically all of season two) so annoying. Last week’s episode, in which the superbly played pedophile doctor (Erik Todd Dellums, a Washingtonian no less) got Brody addicted to heroin may have been set in a bizarre half-finished slum in Colombia that actually exists, but that didn’t make it any less ridiculous. This week’s twist—in which Saul maybe possibly has been making Carrie go deep undercover in a psych ward where she actually belongs—is tangled up in so many ways that it’s positively indecipherable.

Saul fans can rejoice and say, “See! He was one of the good guys all along!” But him secretly working with Carrie doesn’t explain why he made such a vile comment to Fara about her veil, or why he’d compromise the already impossibly fragile mental health of a friend of his by subjecting her to an impossible ordeal so he can save the CIA. In many ways, Saul’s off-the-books mission for Carrie feels like a way for the writers to get Carrie back fighting the bad guys while acknowledging the ridiculousness of the idea that the agency would ever take her back (see season two again). It’s all far too tricky.

And yet this episode was a welcome change from the unrelenting horror of last week with its syringes, hookers, grisly MacGyver surgeries, and Dante-esque subtext (if “Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here” isn’t spray-painted somewhere over the entrance to the Tower of David, it should be). There’s no Brody at all, no Esme, no El Niño, and no Dr. Strangelove, so if you want to see Damian Lewis do his best Intervention impression you’re going to have to wait until next week. Carrie is still a ward of the state of Virginia, where she’s woken at night by the screams of a new patient being restrained, as well as the tacit threats of an orderly who warns her to stop wandering around the psych wing. She has a new attorney who’s hopeful she’ll be released into the care of her family after another, less dramatic hearing, only her family never shows up, and when Carrie sees Dastardly Dar Adal leaving the room before she’s summoned in, she knows she’s doomed. She’s a risk to national security, says the judge, and when you join the CIA the bosses make you set fire to a copy of the constitution so that you understand exactly which rights you’re giving up forever and ever.

All isn’t lost, because a mysterious person orders a judge in Maryland to get her an order of release, and when Carrie gets home to her lovely rowhouse in that gorgeous leafy suburb of Adams Morgan, it turns out that person is shady lawyer Paul Franklin (Jason Butler Harner, also a Washingtonian of sorts), who’s sitting on her couch. He wants her to meet with his boss, and since the CIA has frozen all her bank accounts and credit cards and apparently stolen her car to boot, she agrees.

All this culminates in Carrie going back to the ginger guy she hooked up with and asking for a place to stay, ripping off his wallet, then being picked up by Franklin and driven to a meeting with a laughably evil lawyer named Leland Bennett (Martin Donovan of Weeds fame). He basically full-out admits he’s working for Javadi, who really wants to know who offed his six business associates last week and would like Carrie’s help. Carrie at first refuses to go along with it, until Bennett spins her a yarn in which the CIA emotionally tortures her and ruins her life before killing her. So she finally agrees she’ll help, but she won’t give up any CIA agents and the meeting has to be face-to-face. Franklin gives her an envelope full of cash and drops her off somewhere in “DC” (a.k.a. downtown Charlotte).

More on Javadi: Fara has been following the missing $45 million that’s been skimmed off the top of the Iranian terrorism funds in bank transfers, and she’s found that it gets laundered in a Caracas soccer stadium (yes, Caracas again, and if you don’t think this is connected to Brody’s current whereabouts, then you’re as dim a bulb as Jessica). And guess who’s been doing the laundering? Iranian intelligence second-in-command Majid Javadi, who’s grown tired of seeing US bankers get rich off the Iranian government’s shady schemes and wants to retire in style. Fara wants to arrest him , but Saul says the Iranians will simply have him shot when they find out what he’s been up to. Instead, Saul wants to get him in a room and really exact vengeance for the 12/12 bombings.

There’s also a storyline with Dana that is so insanely stupid that I can’t even get into it, but briefly: She stole her mother’s Subaru, helped Leo escape from rehab, and the two are now sleeping in a car, smoking weed and drinking sparkling wine (she learned no lessons from her last joyride, apparently), and visiting lots of different places that have emotional significance to them, like the grave of Leo’s brother, who killed himself. Only guess what! Leo’s brother didn’t kill himself. Some people (the police) think he did, and the only reason he was in rehab was to escape a homicide charge. So expect him to try and persuade Dana to kill herself in an episode or two, because like Carrie, Dana can’t ever just have a normal boyfriend.

Carrie goes over to Saul’s house, tells him all about the lawyers and meeting Javadi face to face, and he hugs her, and then she cries, and it seems like he’s been the grand puppetmaster controlling her sequester in the psych ward all along. Which leads us to the following thoughts:

Dana, you need to go home, now. Jessica, you need to report your car stolen and stop being such a wuss. Also, Mike is back, if only briefly. Hi, Mike.

Virgil is also back! And the CIA are trying to use him as a pawn to find Carrie until he says something about her mother and warns her off.

There were more parallels this week, this time between Dana and Carrie, both of whom have truly terrible taste in men and are always trying to run away from things.

Are there really American lawyers as loyal to the cause of the Iranian government as Leland Bennett? His speech about eye-for-an-eye attacks came off as so ludicrous that even Carrie accused him of drinking the Kool-Aid. And when Carrie accuses you of being bananas, it really means something.

The father/daughter dynamic between Carrie and Saul in the final scene where he hugs her and tells her how brave she’s been is really, really screwed up.

I listened to about half of the Brody Audible download, “Phantom Pain,” in which he recounts his trip from Canada to Venezuala. I stopped at the following line (when the eye-rolling began to give me a migraine): “The most wanted man in the world was broke and barefoot, in his skivvies, in a whorehouse in Honduras.” So, yeah.

What did you think of tonight’s episode of Homeland? Let us know in the comments.