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

Without spoiling anything for viewers who haven’t yet caught the episode (even though they shouldn’t be reading this), I’ll just say that I’m quite satisfied by the end of tonight’s episode. You can read more about it in my recap over at Slant Magazine. It really does serve to justify a lot of the wheel-spinning of previous episodes though, and clarifies that certain relationships weren’t being retconned so much as intentionally misdirected, for a greater purpose. That said, it’s still important to observe the psychic costs of this plot line–I find that more interesting than anything else. (I was struck by last week’s episode of Scandal, too, in the depths to which America expects its operatives to go, such that it would rather have them die as traitors than reveal them as undercover heroes.) Of course, Homeland is still rather spread out, and while I’m far more confident now that the plot lines will come together, I’m dreading the lengths to which they’ll have to go to now loop Dana back in. By all means, use Leo as a narrative mirror, someone other than Dana’s mother, who she can both safely confide her secrets in and re-explain certain things about her father that everybody else on the show already knows. But don’t make him into a murder suspect, especially when he’s on the run with Dana; this last minute reveal also doesn’t jive with the way Leo’s parents reacted to his disappearance–I get that people can delude themselves and love to cast blame at others, but you can’t call Dana a “bad influence” when Leo’d already taken a plea bargain to wind up in the rehab center long before meeting her.

One other thing that I’m loving about Homeland this season is the very different threat that the CIA is facing. Whereas they were once up against a very overt and literally explosive set of terrorists, they’re now apparently up against an entire nation–Iran, or at least their intelligence division, which very much believes in proportional (eye for an eye) responses to America’s involvement in Israeli actions. They’re chasing a man named “The Magician,” and so they’ve adapted, and taken the show with them. I find it far more fascinating to watch Saul and his new analyst Fara attempt to outmaneuver stonewalling bankers and overzealous private contractors than to see Quinn execute a target, no matter how elaborate or intercontinental the mission happens to be, and I’m thankful that Homeland and Showtime are established enough to provide the time necessary for this long con to build up the necessary steam.


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