Homeland Review: Trick, No Treat

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There were many problems with "Game On" as an hour of television. The boring escape by teen lovers, Carrie's personality reaching new heights in how grating it can be, and the babbling that Saul continued to spout about money and Iran all made up a less than outstanding episode of Homeland.

It was the show's idea of misdirection or "tricking" the audience that was the real issue though.

Carrie Gets a Call

Before even thinking back about all the ways the reveal at the end of the hour didn't make sense, the more pressing problem was that when Saul and Carrie reunited to cheer about how their master plan worked, my reaction was no more than a shrug.

If you're going to spend four episodes worth of story building up to a reveal that at some point along the way the two leads who were being shown as antagonizing to each other came together and pulled the wool over everyone's eyes, then it better garner a better reaction than a simple shrug.

I wasn't thrilled, I wasn't angry, and I wasn't shocked.  The story wasn't interesting enough to earn a more emotional reaction.  The past four episodes (except for much of the Brody stuff last week) have been unable to captivate.

That is all on top of the fact that this trick felt completely off.  Carrie and Saul got together at some point in order for her to get in with the Iranians?  So at some point she started acting her way through everything in order to get into a spot where this could all happen?

Yeah, okay.  So much of it felt forced when looking back at what happened.  When did she start acting?  When she was acting all nervous in front of just her lawyer and the hospital workers?  When she called her father angry that he didn't show up?  How about when she called Virgil and then picked up on his code?  

I understand it could have been an elaborate plan that she had to play step by step in order to make it all work, but it didn't feel like a plan that they concocted to get her on the inside.  It felt like what would have actually happened...and then they just made up that she and Saul had it as a plan at the very end.

To be honest, it felt very reminiscent of the horrid Dexter story line involving Eddie Jimmy Olmos.

What they did was have the main point of the story occur off screen and then throw it in our face at the end.  When Homeland was good (see: season 1, first third of season 2) it would let us see all conflicts and brilliance of the characters.

Now that all of that is over, however, maybe they will get back to something that works.  Hopefully Homeland gets back to its bread and butter.

For now, it's struggling.

But what did you all think of "Game On?"  Did you enjoy it much more than I did?  What were your favorite parts?  What didn't you like most?  How have you been enjoying season three?  And are you missing Brody again?


Editor Rating: 1.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 2.9 / 5.0 (127 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


It was clear on a second watch of Game on that Saul told Carrie should would not get out unless she helped him. She was not going to cooperate with Saul's plan. This is why, that despite her improving mental state, she did not get out. When she realized that it would not matter how she is doing but it was about the CIA's control of her, that is why she called her dad to say, "Call Saul and tell him I GIVE UP. I will do it his way." This was Carrie's code for Ok, Saul, have it your way. The Iran plan moved more aggressively than I think either of them realized. Remember, Saul seemed genuinely surprised that she did get out which was the Iran power who got her out. She was ambivalent and somewhere when the cadillac trip to the house in Potomac did she see the opportunity to enact Saul's plan. That is why she goes over there to tell Saul she did it. Either way, I think it is pretty clear that Saul is using Carrie at this point, although I genuinely think his character does have feelings for her welfare, they do not go above solving the CIA terrorism issue.


Dan Forcella, Homeland has been renewed for a fourth season, so given how much you dislike it now, you may want to hand the reviews over to a colleague.


My husbnd pointed out that Homeland has taken a hard line on Iran, while in real life diplomatic realtions with Iran have been improving.


In the UK we're a week behind you in the epiosdes. I forgot to record last weeks episdoe and I'm not going to bother to seek it out. Homeland S3 isn't as gripping as S1. I hope Homeland finishes at the end of this season because it's passed its peak. Sorry


Good twist (audience manipulation) though somewhat implausible and highly unlikely that a "real" Carrie could pull that off. How many of us would have fallen back into that lurid, messy state of mind? Also, it seems like Saul and everyone is downplaying the attack. There would be more CIA and military officials, let alone the President involved on something that big. Why hasn't that aspect been shown? It wouldn't be just Saul, his special foreign lady working the research ... But I get it, just a show. I don't mind this season so far, it's OK. I see that kid from Dexter in there and I'm thinking, "Wait, the Brain Surgeon killed him. How can he be in there?" HA!

@ JW

same here...same reaction to the kid...


Oh, and I am really missing Brody. He better be in next week's episode!


Dan Forcella, I think it's time that you stopped reviewing this show because it's clear that you now hate it. It may have lost some steam this season, but it's not as bad as you seem to think it is.


I actually thought that it was a brilliant twist and I am so glad it went this way cos I wouldn't have been happy with Carrie taking money from a foreign power without a plan.
As for her reactions, I suppose even if they hatched the plan right after the bombing, when Saul says it on national tv, it does have an emotional impact. And when she said FU to Saul at the hospital, it did indeed have a new meaning. As for wanting her dad so badly at the hospital, again understandable even if she was in on the plan, cos she would have actually been put off by life at the hospital and eager to see her dad (expecting him to appear at the hearing even if she knew the outcome). I don't mind Dana's storyline but I wish it would get a little less airtime. There is no need to see all this detail like her planting a kiss on the guy when he is asleep.


Carrie was nervous during the hearing and called her dad afterwards because she legitimately wanted out. She had expected to be released and the extended time enduring the poor conditions inside the ward was taking its toll on her. This is made clear by Carrie's dialogue at the end of the episode.


This seemed to slip toward Kim Bauer melodrama territory. I get that the fallout from her dad's secret life would mess her up seriously. But please don't pack her story line with tired cliches that will inevitably lead to her peril. I wish she could work out her issues within the context of her family, who are all dealing with this fallout. Finally, I don't know how the show will reconnect Carrie and Brody, if at all. I found their disfunctional love story a real key to the show's appeal.

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