Homeland, the series about the CIA from some of the minds who brought you 24, was great in its first season. Then during its second season, it started losing its way a little bit, but still kept the audience on its toes. Now, in its third season, Homeland has come pretty firmly off the rails and is turning into something of a joke. Clearly, the writers and producers have lost the continuity that made the show so good in its first season.
A friend of mine recently made the point that the thing he considers when watching any show is his time. People undervalue their time. When a television show undervalues its viewer's time, it's time to stop watching.
Is Homeland wasting our time? You be the judge.
The Dana Brody Subplot
Without a doubt, the most frustrating aspect of Homeland this season has been the subplot involving Brody's daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor). All indications point to writers and producers who think that some kind of catharsis is necessary for Dana, but it's not. In a show about CIA operatives, nobody cares about some teenager and her problems. This isn't an after school special. How many bad boyfriends is Dana going to have exactly?
The exasperating thing about Dana's subplot is that none of it matters from a storytelling perspective. If the importance of the Dana story is its relevance to Brody and how it motivates or doesn't motivate him, then he learns everything he needs to know when he goes to see her at the motel. In fact, Carrie even recounts the whole thing for him, which is all we need too. We didn't need to waste multiple episodes watching it.
Also, anyone else notice that Dana's brother grew like three feet?
Ultimately, the writers badly miscalculate what the audience needs from the Dana story. Speaking for everyone, we don't really need anything from the story. We like Dana. We care about her somewhat, but we don't watch the show for the family drama. I really don't care about that and I certainly don't care about it at the expense of moving the plot forward.
Brody in Caracas
Does it really matter how Brody got to Caracas? All that matters is that he's there and he's addicted to painkillers and Saul has to go down there to get him. The worst part of the season was watching an entire episode about Brody in Caracas, which was exceptionally boring and entirely unnecessary.
The writers try to force a mini-relationship between Brody and the girl who takes care of him, which just basically disappears. The stuff with the Imam getting shot just seemed pointless and unnecessary.
When is Carrie Getting Fired?
So what precisely does it take for a person to get fired from the CIA? I suppose the Americans with Disabilities Act has probably saved Carrie a few times, but I would think that actively attempting to thwart an active CIA operation (like when she charges toward the motel room in an attempt to stop that slimy lawyer dude from shooting the bomber) might do it. Then there's Carrie's regular and total insubordination.
Then, after all this, Saul sends her over to Tehran to help extricate Brody once he carries out the assassination. What happens? She once again interferes with mission plans when Saul decides that Brody is expendable. Is this a surprise to Saul? The fact that Carrie is over there is ridiculous and almost solely to keep her pregnancy a secret.
The fact is, Carrie would never be allowed in the field. She is a complete security risk. She would be much better as a desk analyst and that's all she would ever be. Sit her at a desk, let her look at stuff. That's it.
You know what you have when that happens? Rubicon.
What Happened to Peter Quinn's Anxiety?
Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) seemed to be finally letting the impact of his actions get to him and then suddenly he's not worrying about it so much, particularly given the opportunity to shoot Carrie in the arm (and by the way, was that not the stupidest resolution to a problem ever?).
To be honest, I really hated the direction of that particular subplot. I like Quinn as a badass with virtually no conscience. And it's hard to imagine he hasn't seen some pretty horrific stuff in his life. Suddenly, he shoots his first kid and he's rethinking that whole CIA career choice? I'm not buying it.
The whole incident with the kid seemed like a convenient bit of drama that got dropped once the Iranian assassination plot got going.
Wasted: F. Murray Abraham
When F. Murray Abraham was brought in last season, his character seemed interesting. He worked for some wing of the CIA that nobody wanted to talk about, but given that Peter Quinn was Dar's student, we assume that wing has a lot to do with making people disappear in various ways.
This season started out by insinuating that Dar was possibly the leak allowing Congressman Lockhart (Tracy Letts) to learn about CIA business. However, that subterfuge appears to have past and now Dar is merely the guy who sits around and gets all freaked out every time Carrie goes off her meds or decides she's going to go rogue.
He's also really good at repeating particular plot points. Other than that, the guy is useless.
Various Stupid Plot Elements
Why is Carrie crying when Saul is testifying about her and kind of throwing her under the bus when she knows it's all a ruse? I mean, there were a lot of ways that scene could have been played and that was the wrong one unless the goal was to mislead the viewer. I can tell you, smart viewers really hate stuff like that.
So the Iranian spy knows exactly where his ex-wife lives but the CIA doesn't and nobody bothered to check? Wow, so two people get murdered because somebody doesn't do some follow up and Saul doesn't even think to check on it? Nice job, Saul. That's on you, pal. I also like how they lose the guy on the cameras for just a little bit and can't quite figure out where he is.
And oh, by the way, was it really necessary that they demonize the Iranian guy by having him shoot one woman in the head and then kill his ex-wife with a bottle. I mean, could they just not have political differences with the guy as opposed to making him a psychopath so that we're sure to hate him? One of the interesting things about season one was that Brody was sympathetic and so was his position. You could understand his thinking. Making the Iranian spy a psychopath was unnecessary.
Basically, we're nine episodes into the season with a story that probably only required five episodes. 24 was a good show for awhile, but when it started to try to outdo itself, it became tedious. Homeland is doing the same thing, gradually stretching believability and ruining what made the show good. It's no longer good and I'm not sure they can save it.