Homeland: There’s Something Else Going On Review

Homeland heats up with a few unexpected (and some quite expected) twists. But is this Homeland or 24 nowadays?

And with that ending Homeland may have officially become the new 24. Whether that’s for better or worse, you cannot deny that tonight’s episode was definitely entertaining.

Yes, the Taliban is sneaking inside the American embassy, Carrie Mathison and Saul’s fates are unknown after they got Clear and Present Danger’d on an Islamabad highway, and there’s even a mole being flushed down and out like it’s another week at CTU. A far cry from the illusionary realism that permeated Homeland for much of its first two seasons, “There’s Something Else Going On” is nonetheless an entertaining hour of TV—to the point of possible guilt.

This episode hinges on two factors: Boyd and Saul. One represents the very best hope of the series redeeming itself in season four, and the other is an example of it sinking to a new possible low. I doubt that I have illuminate which is which.

On the positive side, Carrie trying to save her mentor made for the second consecutive week of tension-inducing fear. Watching Saul Berenson being loaded into a van with a suicide bomber—one who notably saw his parents killed by a drone strike orchestrated underneath Saul’s tenure as CIA Director—recalled the best moments of heightened despair from Homeland’s glory days, which also often featured suicide vests.

Ad – content continues below

On the other end of the spectrum, we spent a lot of time with Dennis Boyd, the most unlikable character the series has ever seen, Dana Brody notwithstanding. But even that tangent had some much-needed adrenaline kick into the frame when Carrie finally put this schmuck in his place.

This is a man who acts horrified at the implications that he may have led Carrie Mathison toward her death when he drugged her with a pill that is apparently double the potency of LSD. He also was shocked, shocked that telling the ISI how to sneak in and out of the U.S. embassy could lead to security breaches…on that embassy.

I’m sorry, seeing Carrie put this man in his place was so satisfying that I didn’t even mind the telegraphed twist that Martha was not angry at Carrie, but rather simply part of a ruse to trick her husband. Predictable television writing does not change the fact that seeing this character being swept a hair’s breath away from rendition torture is a surprising joy. Plus, we got the kind of badass Carrie Mathison line-readings that we haven’t seen in years. My personal favorite nugget was “I am authorized to kill U.S. citizens on the battlefield, you motherfucker. Don’t think I can’t do whatever is required.” Who doesn’t love Mean Carrie? Stephen King better watch out!

It’s so delicious that the fact that a U.S. ambassador doesn’t contemplate for a second that her husband has ruined her career and legacy is inconsequential for your entertainment value.

But the main show again was, luckily, Saul. Carrie was quick to remind Lockhart and the audience at home that the plans the Taliban had in motion with regards to Sandy predated their “bonus” capture of Saul. However, I think even we thought this hour would just be focused on retrieving Mr. Berenson.

Indeed, the exchange scene was so tense that at first I figured Saul collapsed from anxiety. Once more, audiences are briefly forced to contemplate that Mandy Patinkin would be off the show when he lay down—at least until Carrie convinced the ISI to let her talk to him. Only then did I realize that he was safe, because with Brody already gone, no Carrie officially means no more show. Still, it was a curious exchange when Carrie claimed that she was done with killing. “No more death,” Carrie told Saul with a promise that she wanted to go home.

Ad – content continues below

We all witnessed only a half-dozen episodes ago what happens when Carrie spends a single day with her daughter and there are no other adults around—it’s bad news. The idea that she would go back to that willingly seems as unlikely as Carrie developing an anti-drone policy stance at any point in this lifetime. Perhaps she just was saying anything to cajole Papa Bear to get off that runway? After all, his willingness to die in the name of national security crumpled like a Mission: Accomplished banner at the sight of a tear on Carrie’s cheek.

Again, I could believe that he might die to revitalize Carrie’s hatred of “them” (her words), if not for the fact that when his car got bombed later in this episode, Carrie was sitting right next to him. As long as Carrie is by Saul’s side, he is safer than Dexter Morgan on a series finale. Of course, in reality, they both should be toast considering the accuracy of those RPG hitting the other two SUVs full of extras. But Homeland waved bye-bye to reality a long time ago.

This point is reinforced when the Taliban strolls into the U.S. embassy like the best kind of 24 cliffhanger. I say this well aware that U.S. embassies are tragically the targets of terrorist attacks all too frequently. But the way that this was executed with the kind of Bond villain precision of a decoy attack and insider mole knowledge evokes less Benghazi and more KAOS.

Homeland has just embraced being a nutty spy show. For some, that is a betrayal as deep as Boyd’s that will make this the final deal breaker on the show’s initial contract with its audience. For me? I’m just relieved that it’s better than last season, and most of the thuds from this year too.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!


3 out of 5