The show righted itself with a season finale that used an explosion at CIA headquarters not only as a plot device, but also to extricate Nicholas Brody from what had become a largely untenable position of prominence in driving the show's narrative.
Season Three's premiere was about sifting through the rubble of said explosion, while also pouring concrete for the show's new foundation.
The idea of a show built on Carrie and Saul's fractured mentor/protege relationship and how those two people, so wildly dysfunctional in their personal lives, manage to be so high-functioning in their profession, is and has always been more interesting to me than one built on the Carrie/Brody romance. If the premiere is any indicator, we're likely to see a lot of the former and not so much of the latter this year. Good.
The show has not escaped from Brody's shadow entirely, however. There was still plenty of time spent here with Mrs. Brody and her mom, and Chris and Dana, whose role on the show this year will be to make it as awkward as possible, if the shirtless selfies were indicative of how things are going to go. Carrie is still clearly hung up on Brody too, as evidenced by her take-home from the liquor store. The Carrie/Brody relationship is of great interest to new character Senator Lockhart as well. Hey, rightfully so. I'd want to know why the guy who once tried to kill the vice president was allowed unfettered access to the vice president too.
I was happy to see Peter Quinn back, Jack Bauer-ing it up out in the field. Saul is back too, this time with Season Two frenemy Dar Adal to play off. Why Saul would bring in a guy that he so clearly doesn't trust to help him run things is unclear. I'm willing to overlook that, as watching these two play off each other is a treat.
I'm optimistic about the rest of the season. I look forward to Claire Danes putting on an acting clinic every week, to Chris Brody being useless, to Saul conveying more emotion with his beard than most actors can with their entire face, to moles and double-crosses and teenagers sexting each other.
Well, maybe not the last part.
But this season should be fun. That's what Homeland has always been for me. It's a fun show.
We opened with a shirtless Peter Quinn building an IED in Venezuela. His would be the least awkward topless appearance by a character during this hour.
We saw Carrie, testifying in a closed-door Senate hearing, aimed at getting to the bottom of the attack on CIA headquarters at the end of last season, planned by Abu Nazir and unwittingly carried out by Brody.
Senator Lockhart chaired the committee hearing, and filled in some plot details for us. The CIA had been decimated by the attack, and its reputation was tarnished. "How can the CIA be expected to protect this country if it can't even protect itself?" Lockhart asked.
Committee members asked Carrie questions about her checkered employment history and about her work with Nazir. Carrie admitted that Nazir had outsmarted her and that she would never forgive herself for that.
We saw Saul arriving at work with Dar Adal. Saul said that he should be there with Carrie, sitting next to her as she faces questioning. Adal told him that Carrie could handle it, but that if she couldn't, it might be better for the future of the agency. If they could scapegoat Carrie, they might be able to save the agency that Lockhart seems intent on neutering. Saul maintained that he wouldn't throw Carrie under the bus.
Back in the hearing, Carrie faced questions about Brody, what the agency knew about him and when. She was asked why Brody was given immunity from prosecution and why. Carrie feigned disbelief and when pressed, offered that she thought Brody was innocent in the attack on the CIA. Carrie's counsel was able to delay any further questioning until the next day, but we got a look at Carrie's notepad and were able to deduce that she was off her medication again. After the hearing, Carrie called Saul. She told him that someone inside the agency had leaked information to the committee.
We cut to Dana's last day at her suicide support group. She was smitten with one of the other group members, the actor who helped harpoon the final season of Dexter. Mrs. Brody went to pick Dana up from the facility, an dwe learned that the family was having trouble making ends meet, and that they had faced persecution in the wake of what happened with Brody. Outside, Dana made out with the dude and he told her to call him.
Back at the CIA, Saul was presented with the chance to take out six high-level targets. This potential operation wouldn't net Brody, nor "The Magician", this season's Big Bad terrorist. As it turns out, Saul "had some dealings" with The Magician in the 1970's in Iran, which should provide for some interesting fodder down the line.
Saul had a call to make; go ahead with the operation and start dismantling more of the network that had attacked America, or sit tight and wait to make one big play for The Magician down the line. Adal pressed Saul to be decisive and go ahead with the operation.
Carrie got back to her house and her dad was there. He confronted her about being off her medication and about abusing alcohol. Carrie said that people had died because she was taking her medication, medication that she believes impairs her judgement. Elsewhere, Dana got home and snapped a pic for her friend from group home. So awkward. At Saul's house, we saw that his estranged wife Mira had returned from her overseas trip. That was awkward too, but in a more traditional way. They are sharing a home again, but still sleeping in separate rooms. Mira wanted to have a conversation about their future. Saul didn't want to make a decision.
The next day, Carrie sat in front of the committee again. She faced questions as to her whereabouts in the hours after the blast at the CIA. Of course, she was smuggling Brody into Canada, but her cover story was that she was at the scene the entire time and had been out of it for fourteen hours. Lockhart told her that he had testimony form others that had her leaving the scene with Brody. Carrie and her counsel pleaded the Fifth. Lockhart promised to get her and her colleagues.
Back at headquarters, Saul gave the order to go ahead with the operation, which consisted of drone strikes in Yemen, a ground team in Tel Aviv, and Quinn on the ground in Venezuela. Quinn looked to plant his IED on the car carrying his target, but balked when he saw a child in the car. He tracked the target to his home, where he disposed of him, but also ended up accidentally shooting the child in the process. The rest of the operation went off without a hitch. But as this show does a solid job of reminding us, there was a price. Whether or not there will be repercussions from what Quinn did, I'm not sure.
Carrie met a Brody knockoff at a liquor store and decided to take him home and sleep with him. Solid life decision there. At the Brody's house, we learned that Mrs. Brody is looking to rejoin the workforce and that Dana has a sense of humor. We also learned that her mother and grandmother are walking on eggshells around her and that her grandmother didn't take her suicide attempt seriously.
Carrie got a call from her dad the next morning. Without naming her, someone had leaked word of her sexual relationship with Brody to the press. Carrie was outraged and went to confront Saul and Adal at a restaurant. Carrie accused them of leaking the story, of throwing her under the bus to save themselves. She was escorted out. Saul pressed Adal, but he denied leaking the story.
Later, in a televised hearing in front of Lockhart's committee, Saul trumpeted the agency's work in the operation the day before. Lockhart grandstanded a bit. Saul pushed back. Lockhart continued to grandstand, and leaned on Saul, asking him about the report about Carrie and Brody.
Under pressure, tired of being indecisive, Saul did the thing that he said he wouldn't do. He turned on Carrie, throwing her under the bus in an effort to save face for himself and the agency.