ARRRGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH! There, I'm finally at a point where I can stop smashing things over last week's insult of an episode. But that doesn't mean I've forgotten about it. Oh no. It doesn't even mean I have forgiven Homeland. This show is officially on notice, whatever that means. And until we get either a breakthrough episode like "Q&A" or "The Weekend" or a sustained run of high-quality hours, Homeland is television's programma non grata around these (my) parts. You'll have to trust me when I say I watched "The Yoga Play" with an open and objective mind free of leftover anger, and I found it to be an okay, occasionally maddening, minutely thrilling episode. In my mind, Homeland is still more non grata than grata.
Yes, Carrie and Saul are working together in one of the craziest ploys the CIA every ployed, with Carrie's commitment to a mental ward, Saul's total burn on Carrie in front of the Senate, and the smear of Carrie's name all part of an elaborate plan to lure out the Iranians so that they'll welcome an agent with hurt feelings who might spill secrets like a drunk girl spills her martini. Before we move on, I'll try to quickly sum up my problem with this plan because it will forever be linked to this plot: It made so much of the first three and 99/100ths of Season 3's first four episodes not make a lot of sense, and it didn't justify them at all. (And yes, showrunner Alex Gansa confirmed that Saul and Carrie came up with this ruse mere days after the Langley bombing, months before the start of Season 3.) Okay.
But it did put Homeland back on the road to being what it used to be, and because of that, I'm willing to expunge le twist from my brain and pretend the first four episodes of the season never existed. We're starting from scratch! And what we got from Carrie's new role as damaged CIA agent and Javadi pet was the cloak-and-dagger stuff we've been waiting for. The surveillance! Night vision! The late-night break-in and hooded abduction! It wasn't Homeland in its prime, but it was at least something more than Carrie shivering in a hospital gown or making popsicle-stick houses, and it put her right in the clutches of Javadi after an uncomfortable front-and-back body search that really pushed the limits of Claire Danes' no-nudity clause. It's what we all wanted, and the whole process was a lot rougher than any of us, especially Carrie, expected. (Or was it all just part of a ruse?)
It's a bummer that this development was all that came out of her and Saul's scheme, though, and that what was really essential to it only accounted for a tiny portion of "The Yoga Plan." There episode devoted most of its time to Carrie dodging tails in order to help Dana (more on that later), dealing with confusion over whether or not she was made (she didn't, we don't think), and following Javadi as he took advantage of America's lax borders and fastest food. Relatively speaking, the episode barely touched on last week's monster development: Carrie as a double agent. Was that all a way of getting us into the headspace of this dangerous game? Or was it all just stall tactics? If we'd learned something more substantial about Javadi while checking in with him other than that he has trouble getting food to go in his mouth, or if the fear of Carrie getting made had carried more weight, the middle portion of "The Yoga Plan" would have made more sense. Back in Homeland's heyday, when the show was moving at the speed of two seasons per episode, "The Yoga Plan" would have started with Carrie getting abducted and then 10 more things would have happened by episode's end.
Instead, Carrie got wrapped up in the Dana Brody mess. W-w-w-w-what? *sigh* Dana. Last week, America's teenage nightmare broke her fling out of rehab, smoked some Js, traded considerably down for a Camry, drank some bubbly in a graveyard, and pouted through a fence while calling her daddy a liar for the umpteenth time on a poorly planned cross-state joyride. But by the end of the episode, we at least had the satisfaction that Dana may have been in the clutches of a murderer. So what did "The Yoga Play" do with this story? Well, Dana heard on the news that Leo maybe murdered his brother, they got in a fight, and she ran to the cops and got taken home. So there was no Leo hacking Dana to pieces. Not that their runaway plot was ever going anywhere in the first place, but this story fizzled out, didn't it? And we're none closer to figuring out what we're supposed to be paying attention to with Dana this season. Her plot continues to be a sack full of mysteries. Mystery number one: what's the point?
But there was an effort to tie in Dana with the rest of Homeland's goings-on by having Carrie get involved. Why Jess would enlist the help of the woman who fucked her husband and had been smeared by the CIA is beyond me. (Jess has turned on Fox News or CNN sometime in the last few weeks, hasn't she? And I'm pretty sure she guessed the identity of the mystery female CIA agent who was romantically linked to Brody.) Especially since she has has Mike, who has access to all types of resources and can make a MUCH better sandwich than Carrie. And why Carrie would risk her big secret mission to help Dana is also a decision I'll never be able to understand. But Carrie did, and in the end, risking her extremely covert op to ask Agent Hall to look for Dana was worth how much? Zero, because some regular beat cops in upstate New York found Dana when she ran right up to them. Unless this whole exercise turns into something later, I will sarcastically say "awesome writing, Homeland."
At least Saul had a good day, right? Noooope. Someone give this guy a hug. The interim CIA Director was invited out to shoot some animals with some Washington types, which Saul translated as a meeting to smooth him over for officially becoming the Director for real. Except that wasn't the case at all, and Senator Asshole (R-Obviously) let Saul know that he was going to be the Director, not him. And to rub it in, he shot Saul's bird! I kinda loved that. It must have taken all of Saul's willpower not to stick his shotgun in Senator Lockhart's mouth and squeeze the trigger, aka the Dick Cheney hunting specialty. Saul's speech "congratulating" Lockhart on the job at the stuffy, old, white-man party was a thing of beauty, peppered with just enough obvious "screw you, pal" undertones that it left a mark on Lockhart's backside. And all of Saul's points were valid; this was a power grab for Lockhart and he knows nothing about intelligence. But I love what this means for Saul. In his last weeks as Director of the CIA, he can be as risky as he wants AND steal as many highlighters and White-Out bottles as he can carry. It also sets Lockhart up for failure, at which point the CIA will be like, "Better call Saul!"
Saul's bad day got even worse when he learned the hard way about what happens when you go out of town on business and cut your trip short. Mira was wining and dining a handsome gentleman she worked with in Mumbai, and dammit Mira, go suck a tailpipe. Saul and Mira's marriage has always been half in the garbage, so I guess this wasn't surprising. It just hurt so bad. As long as Saul is in the CIA, this marriage is never going to get repaired. And based on how Saul went straight back to work, I'm guessing Saul's marriage to the CIA isn't going anywhere. Bummer of a day for Saul, but good for the series.
And so the third season of Homeland's second act began with nothing but trouble for everyone. Saul's looking at a demotion and a divorce, Carrie's been stripped and violated by her new (fake) employer, and Dana is single again. The series may be headed in the right direction, but it's doing so with a limp and more than a hint of confusion as the season was poorly planned. Homeland has wriggled out of messes before, but it's never faced a mess like this.
– After all that, Carrie is going off her meds again? Heeeeere weeeee goooooo aaaaagain. But if there's any situation where she'll need to avoid being mentally dull, this is it. Who knows, maybe she'll be so annoying and manic that Javadi leaves in frustration.
– So what was the point of Leo almost hitting that car while he was staring at Dana?
– "Brody's daughter, for fuck's sake." Exactly, Saul.
– Puh-lease can we just follow Peter Quinn around instead? Mira to Peter: "Saul's just getting dressed." Peter: "What as?" And his reaction to learning about Carrie and Saul's plan? "Fuck me." I LOVE THIS GUY!
– Or maybe just follow Virgil and Max?
– So... what's up with Nicholas Brody these days? Is he just wacking down smack as fast as Dr. Pedophile can bring it to him?
AIRED ON 12/15/2013
Season 3 : Episode 12