TV review: Homeland Season 3 (3 stars)

TV review: Homeland Season 3

Carrie and co return with more underhand shenanigans

Previously on Homeland was the warmest, beardiest, most avuncular smile to ever grace a TV screen. Freshly appointed head of the CIA Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) may be many things, but when Carrie Mathison (presumed-dead to the authorities investigating America’s ‘Second 9/11’) walked back into her mentor’s life at the climax of season two, we saw a man who seemed to have genuine affection for his bipolar protégé.

So in the opening episode of series three (featuring the very West Wingy title of ‘Tin Man is Down’), it will come as a shock to some systems when it appears that Saul has unceremoniously chucked Carrie to the wolves. When she storms into an operatives dinner to let off some steam about press leaks targeting her, his ‘sit down and have some tiramisu’ rings a note of rare humour in the show. Saul’s later and very public betrayal of Carrie at a Senate committee hearing cuts rather deeper. But then, as with many things on Homeland, things probably won’t be as they seem.

Over at Camp Brody, nothing is going well. Convinced that her ex-marine dad (Damian Lewis) is a traitor to America who executed the Langley Bombing which killed almost 300 people at the memorial for Vice President Walden, Dana is recovering from taking some desperate measures. Brody himself (even his estranged wife calls him ‘Brody’: is that a marine thing?) is now on the run and makes no appearance in episode one, but his paw prints are everywhere. Given that Carrie is teetering on the precipice after this opener when she had promised him that her only goal now to clear his names, chances are he will soon be riding back into town (probably with a massive beard) to save both of them.

Claire Danes recently walked off with her second Emmy and watching her as Carrie recalls David Chase’s tribute to the late James Gandolfini when he said that a large part of his genius lay in his sad eyes. If ocular activity is the foundation for impressive acting, then Danes has it nailed. When she’s under threat or a bit upset, those eyes are quite wide. When upset or threat switches to terror and mortal danger, they look as though they might explode from her head at any minute.

As with the obvious precursor to this show, 24, it’s impossible to watch without leaving all disbelief suspended from the moment the opening credits roll. Yes, we’ve all probably got used to Lewis’ US accent by now, but surely Carrie wouldn’t have been able to conceal her disorder from superior officers? When attempting to talk himself out of nullifying a number of terrorists, Saul says, ‘we’re not assassins, we’re spies’. How are they expected to deal with international espionage when they can’t spot a huge problem under their very own noses?

Homeland starts on Channel 4, Sunday 6 October, 9pm

Homeland Season 3: Official Trailer

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