Tonight's Homeland was a return to the Brody-lessness of the first two episodes this season, bringing us back to the more familiar territory of Carrie's Psych Ward Staycation (and also, unfortunately, Dana's Boyfriend Adventure). It was a frustrating episode, in part because it felt like the writers were still getting their various chess pieces into place, something that's fine a few episodes in, but now risks skirting the edge of boredom. However, the final scene introduced a major plot twist that felt like a gambit to throw this slow-to-start season into gear. But did the writers play fair? WARNING: Spoilers ahead for tonight's Homeland.
After taking a meeting with Leland Bennett, who works for a firm representing some of the questionable Iranian parties Saul had killed a few episodes back, Carrie reluctantly agrees to let key player Majid Javadi "pick her brain" in exchange for her freedom from the dreaded psych ward. Viewers might've anticipated something like this last week--this is a show that loves to subtly change the game, bringing characters over to different sides and testing their loyalties. Instead, it turns out that Saul and Carrie have been secretly collaborating, creating an elaborate ruse to get her in a room with Javadi.
What's unclear right now is just how far the ruse extends. "You shouldn't have left me in the hospital," Carrie says, clearly meaning it--but doesn't the twist suggest that (at least for some time) the plan has been to let her molder in the psych ward, putting her in a position where Bennett and the Iranians could serve as her convenient saviors? "How long?" of course, is the obvious question here. I can buy that Carrie contacted Saul at some point during this episode (maybe through her dad), and convinced him to let her go after Javadi. But the idea that she was acting when she said, "F**k you, Saul," two weeks ago is a much harder sell.
Regardless, the bigger issue is the fact that the show didn't play fair with its audience--didn't, as creative writing-types say, earn its big moment. Specifically, Carrie was privy to information the audience wasn't. There was presumably some scene of her contacting Saul and, if not making outright plans, at least outlining her intentions. We never saw this. Rather than the result of clever plotting, the big twist feels more like the product of a cheap kind of misdirection. Compare with Breaking Bad, a show that (with few exceptions) went to great lengths to make sure its characters and audience were on the same page. It was satisfying, because we knew why people behaved the way they did, and the twists and turns of the plot always felt organic--however unpredictable. The Homeland writers should take notes.
What did you think? Was tonight's big moment earned? Do you like where the show's headed? Tell us below.