HOMELAND Recap: “Game On”

     October 20, 2013

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Does anyone else feel a little bit like Dana?  As useless (so it seems so far) and uninteresting as Dana’s story generally is, she had one great moment in “Game On” when showing Leo the place where her father was deployed before he became a POW.  She said it was the last time her father told her a truth: Goodbye.  “Everything after that was a lie.”  Of course, we can’t hold hostility towards Homeland like Dana rightfully does towards Brody, because it’s nice when a show tricks us and actually pulls off a grand surprise.  Hit the jump for who or what exactly that was.

homeland-season-3-posterOk, so, that moment.  That is why we love this show.  We doubted it, after last year went off the rails, but the writers found a way to make that matter and to make it part of this season’s signature mystery.

But let’s back up.  Last week set us up perfectly for “Game On” as far as a manipulation of emotions and expectations. Carrie’s B-movie experience in the psych ward was augmented yet again to start this episode, where she witnessed another patient screaming and being sedated against her will.  Last week we saw Carrie and Brody have parallel stories that put them, seemingly, in the same place: both were being held captive, fed drugs, and were both completely alone.

When Carrie was again approached by Mr. Franklin to sell out the CIA, we were positioned to be sympathetic to the cause.  Carrie’s life was gone.  Her family had been manipulated, her money was gone, even Virgil was being monitored.  Everything had been taken from her except for her apartment, but even that wasn’t really safe.  When she capitulated and took the meeting, there were flashbacks to Brody.  Would a patriot, would someone who truly loved their country, turn on it?  In both situations, a case could be made that their country put them in that position, killed innocents and then abandoned there own.  Wouldn’t that make anyone pause to consider their loyalties?

Still, one could never believe that Carrie would turn on her people, but she did insert the caveat up front that she would not name names or out field agents.  Could it be possible?

Why trust Homeland, though?  It was all a ruse, which is a mind-boggling proposition.  How far back did this go, and when was this plan hatched?  Was this all part of the act?  There was another moment that created a hundred other questions: Carrie cried telling Saul he should have gotten her out of the psych ward earlier, and he shouldn’t have left her there.  So when exactly did Carrie get in on this plan?  And what were the terms?

Homeland 1x04 - Game OnThroughout “Game On,” I kept wondering how far the show could take “Carrie v the CIA.”  The time limit was pretty much up already, and the show chose to strike at just the right moment to keep us interested, even sitting up straighter in our chairs.  The show has also kept a nice balance of 80% Carrie, 20% “other.”  The Other has been less successful, because how much do the Brody’s matter without their patriarch?  We were always supposed to care about them, but … did we?

Regardless, Homeland will probably find a way to make them all fit in again.  We can hope.  Where Brody’s future lies within the show is uncertain, but it’s less important now.  Carrie is back to being a badass, and there are plenty more opportunities for twists and turns as Carrie starts to work this terrorist financier for Saul.  As long as those two are in cahoots, we should all feel a little safer.

Episode Rating: B

Musings and Miscellanea:

homeland-game-on-mandy-patinkinMartin Donovan!  So glad to see him (as Mr. Bennett.  Despite what Carrie wants, I doubt that will be the last we see of him).

— Thinking back now about the fact that Carrie truly looked like she acknowledged what he said about the CIA phasing her out to then kill her when she knew instead she would be ok … all the awards.

— Loved the joke that will bring down the Iranian: that he called himself after a famous goalie.  Soccer keeps coming around as a motif, as well (or at least is being acknowledged, which I like).

— Apparently you have to give up your constitutional rights to join the CIA.  Unfortunate.

— Ah ha!  So Mike Faber is back.  Kinda strange this is the first time we’ve seen him.  I would have expected the kids to embrace him with open arms after the betrayal of their father.

— So Leo just happens to know where chop shops are?  And did he kill his brother, or was it a suicide pact gone awry?  Do we care?

— Carrie lives in Adams Morgan! Little insider DC info there, I like it.

— “Leave it to my daughter to fall in love on the psych ward”  – Jessica.

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