To people who have never seen an episode of Homeland, I often say that season one is one of the best, most tightly-written displays of television that I have ever seen. It is so brilliant that it could have worked as a mini-series, and in light of the diminishing quality of season two (and now three), sometimes I think it should have gone that route.
I appreciate that thus far, Homeland has been going for a slow burn of displayed consequences and character development in season three. There hasn’t been any of the suspense or action that we’re used to from the CIA show; rather, it’s been all about fluctuating relationship dynamics in the wake of last season’s choices.
At its best, the show asked questions of privacy, personal freedom, and paranoia. Sure, it also brought up ethical issues surrounding the treatment of mental illness, but that wasn’t the focus of the show. It painted with broader strokes than that, and then let the acting fill in the exquisite details.
Now this show is all about the tiniest details. I used to feel like I was looking at a painting that took up a whole wall, and now I feel like I’m watching someone draw each individual leaf on the tree on a postcard. Not nearly as interesting.
I’ll admit, I was one of the few who had been missing Brody in the first couple episodes, or at least interested in what he was doing. But if this is what we’re going to get to see, I’d rather let my own curious mind fill in the blanks. As he injects himself with heroin, Brody has hit rock bottom, and this is a man who used to live in a hole. The creepy doctor says he will survive because he’s strong, although it’s been my opinion that Brody has always been the weakest one on this show. He has been a pawn of everyone else, never a man who acted for himself. Maybe he has avoided death, but if this is what Carrie saved him for, is that really something to call an accomplishment?
And then of course there’s Carrie, who presumably was in this episode for only two reasons: 1. To draw comparisons between her and Brody’s situations; and 2. To start developing this plotline with the mysterious lawyer. We didn’t really see any development from Carrie in any way–she’s still as manic and manipulative as ever, breaking rules that she doesn’t think apply to her. I kept expecting her to get poor Nurse Abby fired, much like Walter White got the custodian at his high school axed in the early days of Breaking Bad. Carrie and Brody both insist that they’re good people, but what evidence do we have to support that? Carrie’s a smart person, but when was the last time she made a choice that wasn’t directly benefitting her?
If you’re going to work in the details, make them details that we haven’t tread over a million times before. Right now, Homeland isn’t serving up anything that’s new or interesting, despite the fact that Brody is in a different country. I’m definitely ready to move on to the next place, for him and for Carrie.