TV Recap: Homeland, ‘Game On’

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The Debriefing: Fara (Nazanin Boniadi) follows the money for the 12-12 bombing which is somehow getting laundered through an Iranian soccer team. Carrie (Claire Danes) goes before the psych review board and her release is rejected due to an injunction through the Department of Justice (that F. Murray Abraham’s Dar Adal hand delivered). She gets sprung on a furlough by the mysterious lawyer (Jason Butler Harner) but on one condition she meet with is boss Leland Bennett (Martin Donovan), a man who lobbies for the Iranians. She tries to run but she is completely cut off financially and is being watched by the CIA. Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) and her boyfriend Leo Carras (Sam Underwood) are on the run — they steal Jess’ (Morena Baccarin) car, sell it for a new one, wax poetic while drinking and smoking and then hang at the grave of Leo’s dead brother.

America’s Most Wanted (Best Overall Performance): We don’t call this column The Carrie Diaries for nothing. Claire Danes simply owned tonights episode. She delivers a tour de force performance on all the shades of Carrie’s bat shit craziness — the paranoia, the desperation, the sorrow, all of it. The scene that stole the episode was her talk with Bennett. Carrie, who’s usually the dominant force of a scene, really takes an emotional beat down. Then…she let’s all that pent up sorrow out when she confronts Saul. She’s just so damn good.

The Sleeper Cell (Best Supporting Performance): I thought Martin Donovan’s Leland Bennett was awesome. His soft-spoken verbal destruction of Carrie was delivered beautifully. I really think he can be a really, really interesting villain for this season.

A “BOO” Nazir (The Worst Part of the Episode): Remember that episode of Family Guy when Peter says, “Well everyone it looks like a Meg episode. There’s the remote…no one will blame you.” That’s how I feel every time the angst-y saga of Dana Brody resurfaces on Homeland. Everything with this storyline is just so melodramatic and over-the-top. Listening to her and her equally annoying boyfriend wax poetic was absurd. It’s obvious at this point, if you can’t tell, I really hate this part of the show.

The Key Evidence (Best Part of the Episode): The reveal! Holy smokes I did not see the whole Saul/Carrie situation as a big con to engage Leland Bennett and his client in Iran. It was a big “HOLY SHIT” moment that I don’t think anyone saw coming. This reveal really took the episode from “meh” to “whoa.” However, there’s still an underlying sense of anger, pain, betrayal and sorrow in her relationship with Saul. He did put her through hell and it’s not something that she could shake. I think this reveal, while a great scene for the episode, has season-long effects.

The Analysis (Overall Thoughts on the Episode): This was an uneven episode. On the negative side, I could care less about the Dana Brody storyline. It’s so boring, so cliche and so unnecessary. These parts of the episode just flat out sucked. However when we put the focus on Carrie – it was classic Homeland. I loved the re-introduction of Virgil and his “say hi to your mom” line, which tipped Carrie off that someone was listening in on the conversation, was awesome. As stated above, the whole new Carrie/Bennett/Iranian benefactor storyline seems like it could be amazing. I can’t wait for this to play out. “Game On” is a good table-setting episode but it was probably one of the weakest of the third season. I look forward to Brody and Quinn coming back next week.

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site’s podcast, The BreakCast.┬áHe is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites