Homeland Review: Trick, No Treat

at . Comments

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
  • 1.5 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 2.9 / 5.0 (127 Votes)

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


I don't think the plan between Carrie and Saul was started during any of the first four episodes. I have to think that something as complex as that would be long in planning and preparing. I believe that it was already in place when this season began. That makes everything that has happened appear in a new light. I appreciate this twist. I really didn't know where they were going with Carrie-off-the-rails and/or rudderless. She's this close to crazy, I agree, but now we see that she is not without purpose or direction. She is all about her job, even to the point of nearly sacrificing her sanity. This feels very consistent with the character as developed over the first two seasons. In fact, her devotion to her job and her drive might be key sources of her instability, but ironically also keeping her grounded. I like the Dana story line, but was disappointed at the revelation of her boyfriend's violent past. 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.


I agree that Homeland is really struggling this season. It just seems to be lost as to what to do! And it was so good until this season.
Dana storyline is so boring that I have to FF through it. Instead of Brody´s family there should be much more Brody himself but also Quinn.
I found it difficult to make sense as to when exactly did Saul tell Carrie about the plan? I also immediately thought about the call with Virgil but also everything else until the last minute of the episode! We´ll see if they are able to make it more believable but for now it felt unbelievable.
I truly hope Homeland can find itself again...


The third episode without Brody. Is Damian Lewis being paid per episode? Does the show save money when he does not appear at all? Maybe the death of the writer who won an Emmy for the briliant Q&A last season is the problem with this season. The Dana storyline is boring...even if it will eventually lead to something.
I could see them using a crisis with Dana (taken hostage,possibly murdered)to lure Brody out of hiding, at which time he will act heroically to save his family and die in the process. Only thing, what I have enjoyed most about the show is the interaction between Carrie and Brody. If they kill off Brody this season, I won't be back for the next one.


@john Smith:Its obvious that you like the show a lot(blinkers on) since you think even Dana's character is integral somehow to the show's central plot.Dana's character is the biggest piece of distraction that a spy show like Homeland could have had.Agreed that the lady portraying the character is a gud actor.(Homeland is about tracking terrorists).
24 is way above and beyond Homeland.Kim Bauer was central to the plot or an important piece in 4 seasons.Dana character cannot be compared to Kim character in anyway.You got it wrong on that one. Another thing:POI is sheer awesomeness!!Pity you cannot see it.
Revenge is ofcourse garbage but again no use comparing since both have got different segment of viewers' in general.
To each his own but had to make my point.


Although I respect the fact that we all have our own POV, I have to strongly disagree with everything you said, except the continuing Dana storyline, which is just tedious. I certainly understand and expect a journalist to give their opinions in a review, but when a journalist ceases to be capable of any sort of objectivity, and simply throws hate at the subject of their review, with nothing even remotely interesting to say, they lose me as an audience to their opinions. I won't be reading your reviews in the future.


The storyline is straight out of John Le Carre's "The spy that came in from the cold". The book is from 1963 and was also a great film with Richard Burton.


Daniel, you're a Hater! You shouldn't be allowed to review Homeland!


As a sidenote, I am sick of seeing garbage like Revenge or Person of Interest receiving good grades on this website, all the while reviewers systematically denigrate a great show like Homeland. Perhaps Homeland is not as good as it used to be, but it is still comparatively MUCH better than the two shows I have just mentioned. All the critiques you made about the writing tactics and the narrative shortcuts could be applied to many other shows currently on television.


Regardless of when, or how, Carrie got in on Saul's "masterplan", the very fact that she was off her meds made much of what went on in the psych ward VERY real. I think that the point of what we saw in the past four episodes was to show the real toll the Langley attack took on Carrie. The fact that much of these feelings were real, combined with how crazy Carrie can go when she is off her meds (something Saul knows very well) made Carrie's situation into a unique opportunity to go in deep inside the terrorist network. I think this was masterfully built up. As for the Dana segments, they are adding a human element in the show, to give viewers the sense that this is not all about tracking down terrorists. They're doing this much, much better than 24's Kim Bauer. I like the actress's acting and I understand her character. I am sure she will end up at the heart of the "big picture".


Anyone who claims they saw this "reveal" coming is simply not telling the truth and the end of this episode will bring me back for more. The fun will begin all over again.

Tags: ,