For the past two years, when people have asked me what my favorite dramas on TV are, I would give them three answers: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and, lastly, Homeland. During its first season, Homeland was a critical hit for Showtime; the drama garnered rave reviews and stole the Outstanding Drama Emmy away from Mad Men, breaking that series’ four-time winning streak.
However, many critics were disappointed with different aspects of Homeland’s second season. Many television reviewers felt like the series was bogged down with uninteresting teen drama or over-the-top and unrealistic plot points, such as Dana and Finn killing that stranger with their car and Brody murdering the vice president via a signal sent to his pacemaker. Overall, I still loved season two of Homeland and was much more forgiving of the series’ supposed faults than most critics because when Homeland is on its A-game, I would stand by the claim that it is the best drama on television. For much of its third season premiere last night, Homeland was just that, and it has me very excited for where this season will lead Carrie, Saul, and the rest of the show’s characters.
The main focus of last night’s premiere, entitled “Tin Man Is Down,” was the relationship between Carrie and Saul. Their mentor-student/father-daughter connection has been a staple of Homeland since its inception, and while the two of them have had their ups and downs, an entirely new amount of stress has been added in the wake of the bombing of the CIA, which occurred during the season two finale. Saul is now the director of the CIA, and with this new position, he must weigh his desire to protect Carrie with the need to save the agency. During the conclusion of last night’s premiere, where he essentially sold Carrie out to the senate committee, describing her romance with Brody and the concealment of her bipolar disorder (the only part of the story that Saul withheld was her name), we saw how Saul will handle this going forward: the CIA’s needs are greater than those of Carrie.
Speaking of Carrie, this may be the most unhinged we have seen our protagonist since she went manic at the end of Homeland’s first season. Whether she is filling notepads with countless different theories about how the bomb could have ended up in Brody’s car or inviting red-headed strangers from the liquor store over to sleep with, it is clear that Carrie is off her medication (she is no longer taking her lithium, as she and her dad discuss early in the premiere) and not doing well in the face of all the pressure she is feeling from the government.
Abandoned by Saul and constantly berated by the senate committee that is investigating the bombing (Senator Lockhart, the leader of the committee, even asks Carrie at one point, “What are you smoking?”), Carrie is at her most desperate and defenseless. She blames herself for the bombing, and that guilt, along with the despair over losing Brody for the foreseeable future (Damian Lewis does not even appear in the episode) may prove to be too much for her.
Finally, we have Dana and the rest of the Brody family (with a new addition in Jessica’s mother) dealing with the ramifications of the world now knowing that Brody is a terrorist. During the two months (in Homeland’s time) between the end of season two and the season three premiere, Dana, feeling so betrayed by her father, attempted to kill herself by slitting her wrists in the bathroom. We first see Dana at a group meeting at a treatment center; it’s her last day, and as Jessica walks her to the car to leave, both of them are pursued and harassed by journalists looking for more information on Brody and the family as a whole. Aside from the new information about Dana’s suicide attempt (and whatever her relationship is to the kid that played Zach Hamilton from Dexter), nothing more is really presented to the audience in Homeland’s premiere. We know that Jess, Dana, and Chris are still hurt by Brody’s actions, still wondering how he could do what he did, but until Brody turns back up in the show and possibly reunites with them in some way (he has to see them again at some point, right?), the Brodys appear to be the least compelling component to Homeland’s third season. I’m interested in seeing what happens to them, but I really hope their storyline will be filled with more than awkward dinner conversations and Dana sending naked pictures to guys.
After this solid premiere, I hope Homeland continues to bring its A-game throughout its third season, assuring all viewers why it is still one of the best dramas on TV right now.
So happy to see that Quinn (Rupert Friend) remains in the Homeland universe. His assassination of one of the six terrorists that Saul pulled the trigger on during the premiere was a highlight of the episode for me. Also, his hesitation towards harming the child and his devastation after he realized that he had killed him by mistake makes me love Quinn’s character even more.
Dar Adal is a tough guy to like, even if his thoughts about the CIA and how to ensure its existence are probably right. Also, do you think he is responsible for all the leaks, or will we never learn of the actual culprit?
Amazing acting tonight from Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin. Also, Morgan Saylor continues to impress as Dana, even if the material that she is getting isn’t as meaty as some of the stuff she has shared with Damian Lewis in the past.
Sorry for the lateness of this review. The Breaking Bad series finale had to take precedent over the Homeland premiere. From now on, look for these reviews to be posted either late Sunday night or early Monday morning.
What did everyone else think of the Homeland premiere? Are you as excited for season three as I am?