4 ways 'Homeland' needs to improve in the second half of the season
This post contains spoilers for the first half of Homeland‘s third season.
Fans of Showtime’s hit series Homeland know that this season has been a bumpy ride so far. While there have been moments this year that have been as thrilling as the show’s highly-lauded, Emmy-grabbing first season, much of this run has felt as meandering and confused as the off-the-mark second season.
Sure, Claire Danes is still killing it as brilliant-but-unstable CIA analyst Carrie Mathison. But the show has been dragged down this season by a mostly unbelievable storyline that involves Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) getting Carrie committed and outing her instability to Congress, which we find out later was a long con the two of them cooked up in order to turn Iranian intelligence bigwig Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) into a CIA asset.
Add to that an irritating plot involving Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor), an unnecessary episode where we track where suspected Langley bomber Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) has escaped to, and now the complication of Carrie being pregnant, and the third season has the makings of a bad soup where the cook threw everything in his fridge in the pot, hoping for the best.
But in that bad soup are some tasty ingredients that could save the recipe if they’re used well. As a viewer who hasn’t given up on the show just yet, here’s my wishlist for how I hope the second half of season three goes.
1. Bid Dana Brody farewell.
There was a time when Dana was one of my favorite characters on the show, and I enjoyed Saylor’s brooding, wise-beyond-her-years performance. And there seemed to be a story in there somewhere about how a sensitive teen like Dana suffers when the dad she thought was a hero becomes Public Enemy #1 (remember, she assumes he bombed Langley, just like the rest of America). But seeing her run off with some jerk from her rehab group, and now move out of the house, feels more like a plot from an after-school special than something that belongs in Homeland. It was especially glaring in last week’s episode, when we cut from the scenes of Carrie dealing with Javadi, and the bloody scene that ensued, over to more scenes of Dana’s angst. That was too much of a tonal shift, and it just broke the intensity of the episode; all I wanted to see was how they turned Javadi, not watch Dana hug her brain-dead brother as she walked out of the Brody house.
2. Settle the pregnancy plotline—fast.
Carrie doesn’t need any more complications in her life. She’s already dealing with being bipolar, defending Nick Brody by trying to get Javadi to out the real culprits of the Langley bombing, and trying to figure out her feelings for the fugitive. Does she really need to be pregnant, too? And who’s the father? It can’t be Brody, and the only other person she’s been intimate with lately was the guy she had a one-night stand with a couple of seasons ago. If this plotline came about because Danes was pregnant, fine, but that ship sailed a year ago, when she actually was pregnant, and we haven’t heard any reports that she is again. So however the writers need to settle this, it should be settled, the sooner the better.
3. Give us more of Sen. Lockhart and Dar Adal.
As cringeworthy as it looks that the producers have made Sen. Lockhart (Tracy Letts) into a Dick Cheney clone, his desire to shake up the way the CIA does business injects new life into the show (as long as you believe the CIA, of all things, is on notice in this fictional version of America). And who doesn’t want to see more of the sniveling but canny Dar Adal, played by F. Murray Abraham? He’s playing both sides of the fence, and Saul knows it. Heck, if we just saw an episode with noted scene-chewers Abraham and Patinkin at odds, it would be more of a treat than anything we’ve seen this season.
4. Figure out how to use Brody, or forget about him.
It feels like the entire course of the series changed when the producers decided that Lewis was so good at playing Brody that, instead of killing the character off at the end of season one like they intended, they kept him alive. Instead of just concentrating on Carrie using her brilliant but troubled brain to track down the world’s biggest terrorists, the show has turned Brody into an anchor to the story, causing Carrie to make decisions and go in directions that make you want to throw your hands up in frustration. With Brody on the run and currently stuck in Venezuela, Lewis and his character have been put in a holding pattern; we’ve only seen him in one episode, but we always know he’s there.
We know we’ll likely see more of him in the second half, as Javadi “coincidentally” owns a soccer team in Caracas, but it feels like he’ll be just a drag on the story instead of a driver of the story. As much as we like Lewis, it really feels like Brody’s character has run its course; why not leave him rotting in that Venezuelan criminal colony for good and let Carrie do her thing unfettered?
Homeland airs Sundays at 9 PM Eastern on Showtime.