Season premiere review: 'Homeland' - 'Tin Man is Down': Paralysis by analysis
"Homeland" is back for a third season, and I have a review of the premiere coming up just as soon as I have immunity for overdue parking tickets...
"It was right in front of my eyes, and I never saw it coming." -Carrie
"Homeland" is coming off a season that had some very obvious highlights ("Q&A"), some very obvious lowlights (Dana/Finn, bug-eyed Brody on Skype, Nazir as slasher movie villain), and the hard to shake feeling that the show would have been much better off if the suicide vest had just detonated at the end of season 1.
Interestingly, "Tin Man Is Down" plays almost as if season 2 was unnecessary, and that we're picking up right after the hypothetical explosion from "Marine One." Brody is still alive in this version, but doesn't appear, and we have some season 2 characters like Quinn and Dar Adal playing important roles, but for the most part, this episode would require very little tweaking to fit into a parallel universe where Brody blew up the first time.
It's an episode where Carrie, Saul, Dana and Jessica are all grappling with the question of how they could have missed what was right under their eyes, with varying degrees of success. Carrie has once again gone off her meds and is acting reckless both in front of her Congressional inquisitors and at a very public lunch with Saul and Dar. Dana has attempted suicide, while Jess is just putting her head down and trying to figure out how to support her family after her husband was exposed as history's worst monster. And Saul has Dar as the devil on his shoulder with no corresponding angel, so is it a surprise that he ends the episode throwing Carrie to the wolves? And can you necessarily blame him, given her recent behavior and the ways she demonstrated throughout seasons 1 and 2 just how irrational she gets on the subject of Nicholas Brody?
It's a solid episode — tentative in spots, but in a way that feels appropriate to where all the characters find themselves at this point. Quinn's adventures in Caracas feel ever so slightly "24," but less that show's more far-fetched aspects than how effective it was at doing close-quarters action. With the CIA in such dire shape, and with Brody off to parts unknown at least at the start of the season, I expect Quinn to play an even bigger role this year than last, and I think Rupert Friend's up to that.
We'll see how things work out once Brody is back in the picture and the story of the season is laid out more clearly, but this was definitely an encouraging first chapter after the previous volume of "Homeland" left so many of us frustrated.
What did everybody else think?