S3E1: 'Tin Man Is Down': Carrie under investigation, Saul running the show, Brody on the run & Dana under suicide watch.
The wait is finally over for UK viewers and the third season of tense CIA drama Homeland has returned, changing the face of Sunday nights for the next two months. Broadcast last night (6th September), the episode began with a handy summary to bring us up to date and resurface the scorching memories of last season's final episode that saw an explosion at the CIA, Brody on the run and Carrie and Saul left to pick up the pieces.
Welcome Back Homeland, As Paranoia-Inducing As Ever.
"It's 58 days since the attack on Langley in which 219 Americans lost their lives," we hear. "It is now plain that the Central Intelligence Agency is crippled, its managerial ranks are decimated and its reputation in tatters. The plain question is how can the CIA be expected to protect this country if it can't even protect itself?"
"Just what is it that you're smoking, Ms. Mathison?" Carrie is asked damningly. The bipolar CIA agent has one of her roughest episodes for some time now she's off her lithium medication, with the fierce scrutiny of new character, Senator Andrew Lockhart, and the rest of a committee. Carrie maintains that rather than having been with Brody at the time of the bombing, she was in the toilets where she stayed for 14 hours after being knocked unconscious by the blast. It's a risky line to take and of course Lockhart doesn't believe her, but it's not as risky as admitting she was sleeping with the man the USA thinks was responsible for the horrific bombing.
Luckily, Carrie doesn't have to admit her relationship with Brody as Saul spills the beans and hangs her out to dry, informing the committee that not only were Carrie and Bombing Suspect A having sex, Ms. Mathison is also suffering from bipolar disorder.
Wracked with guilt, Carrie blames herself for the hundreds dead, attributing her meds to the fact she "never saw it coming." Whilst out shopping for tequila she picks up a random one night stand and confronts Saul in full-meltdown mode after she learns of his betrayal. "F**k you!" she yells. "F**k all of you!"
With many of the higher powers dead after the bombing, Saul and the recently returned Dar Adal are running the CIA and ep.1 focusses on their efforts to organise six assassinations across three continents with a window of just 20 minutes. This makes for high-tension viewing involving the shady Quinn; when we see him assembling a bomb at the beginning of the episode, we are immediately led to think it's a flashback showing him wiring up for the CIA bombing or even the suiting up for Brody's suicide vest. Why can we not yet trust this guy?
Meanwhile, Brody's daughter Dana is living through a personal hell of her own. Hounded by press for the latest word on her father, she and her family must go about the impossible task of getting on with life whilst the man of the house is on the run as America's most wanted. It comes to light that Dana tried to kill herself in the interim between seasons two and three which has left her vulnerable and under close watch.
Next week's second episode needs to work hard to prove that Brody has been left out of the opening episodes for valid reason, rather than just stretch the storyline out. We'll just wait to see how far the masks continue to slip now Carrie's secrets are out, Saul has betrayed his friend and Dana's mental gloom seems to know no depths.