TV Recap: Homeland, Season 3 Wrap-Up

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Season Three of Homelandis officially in the books. Pop-Break documented the show every week and after letting the dust settle after Sunday’s series-altering finale, we’re going to breakdown the third season of (the good and the bad) of Showtime’s hit series.

The Best Performance: When you’ve got a three-headed monster of Mandy Pantikin, Claire Danes and Damian Lewis at the forefront of your series it’s hard to choose who delivered the best performance. However, gun to my head, I’m going to go with Claire Danes. She’s been a dramatic dynamo since jump street but in this season she proved that is truly the emotional core of the series. It’s almost a given that Danes would deliver, but this season we didn’t get the typical crazy face Carrie but with the Brody character absent for about a good 60% of the season, the series relied heavily on Carrie. We needed more out of Carrie because there wasn’t another main character we could focus our attention on, it was almost all Carrie, all the time. Danes sold every aspect of Carrie this season — it wasn’t all just screaming and tears (oh trust us there was a lot of that), there were quiet moments, moments of doubt and fear that Danes sold beautifully. We also saw a much stronger Carrie’s always been a tough character but in Season Three she went through shock treatment, being shot, abducted at gunpoint, saw the love of her life executed and all while pregnant. (Maybe she and not Brody is real “unkillable” character) Now, without Williams and (probably) Patinkin on board, it’s up to Danes to carry this series on her own. It’s a risky decision, but the show is leaning on its strongest cast member which is always a smart idea.

The Worst Performance: Maybe he’ll prove us wrong when he debuts this season on The Following, but Sam Underwood, who portrayed Dana Brody’s boyfriend Leo, delivered the worst performance of Season Three. Yes, the Dana/Leo storyline was maddeningly stupid, but that doesn’t atone for Underwood’s half-baked paint-by-numbers performance. Every time he was onscreen it was crickets and tumbleweed. During the character’s “big reveal” he acted like if he was reading off a cue card and instead of trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shit, he made chicken explosive diarrhea out of chicken shit.

The Official “A BOO Nazir” Award For Worst Part of The Season: The Dana Brody Storyline. Good lord was this terrible. I enjoyed this teen angst storyline when Claire Danes starred in My So-Called Life. I don’t need to see it here, on a show the deals with the War on Terror. Why on earth should we care about a pouty and hyper-emotional teenage girl? Yes, you do feel bad that her father has ruined her life. Yes, you do feel bad she attempted suicide. But did we need five (plus) episodes of her star-crossed lover storyline with a her psychotic boyfriend? No, we didn’t. This could’ve been condensed into one, maybe two episodes. Then we had the Dana/Nick Brody final confrontation. Wow, not only was this scene awkward and flatly executed, but it did nothing to advance the story or even conclude a chapter in the show.

The Best Episode: While it’d be easy to say the season finale, the best episode of Season Three was “Go Home” — a completely action-packed and intense episode. The extended firefights and action sequences in this episode were awesome. Well-choreographed, super-intense — and all shot in North Carolina? Yup, who knew a rock quarry in the Carolinas could be a great fill-in for Iraq. Regardless, these action sequences were probably some of the best in the series’ run since Season 1.

The Final Analysis: Season Three of Homeland was a solid piece of television, but when you compare it to the previous two seasons, it is the series’ weakest entry. Now, let’s qualify this, a solid season of Homeland is better than most shows on their best day. Yet, it still didn’t have the nerve-shattering intensity of the previous two seasons. Rarely were we left with the jaw-agape feeling of shock and amazement which was a regular occurrence in Season 1 and Season 2. Instead, we were given solid, plot-building episodes that took a little too long to get to the point. The show sidetracked one too many times in the beginning of season and a lot of these side stories remained completely unresolved by season’s end. Remember how Quinn wanted to walk away from the CIA? Right now it looks like he’ll be a part of Carrie’s new team in Istanbul. What happened to Fara? She went from being heavily involved to non-existent. How about the rest of The Brody family? What the hell happened to Mike? We spent so much time worrying about things that ultimately didn’t matter and it really effected the series. Now one could make the argument that this season was coming in limping due to how the show had matter of factly dispensed with its “big bad” Abu Nazir in Season Two, but still with the caliber of people involved in the series, you’d think they could overcome and they did to some extent, but it felt like the show was stalling, trying to find itself.

In the end, Homeland remains a damn good show, but we’re left wondering how in the world they can take a show which revolved around a POW returning home and posing the question if he’s been turned into a terrorist and then make it something else? Guess we’ll have to tune in next September to find out.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, 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. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites