Homeland Review: “Game On” (Season 3, Episode 4)

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We might finally be closing in on something tangible, something exciting, something that will tie together the loose threads that Homeland has been creating over the last few episodes. The Langley explosion at the end of last season sent story threads clattering all over the place, all over the world, and the writers seem to have been playing a perverse game of building them away from each other, in spite of each other, daring the viewer to guess at how the stories will intertwine.

“Game On is mainly fuelled by Carrie, her tribulations in the mental hospital, and whatever it is going on with the lawyer who keeps visiting her, and his “client.” Seeing her placed front and centre of the episode is a nice relief after last week’s Brody-fest, and it’s nice to see that the pit of despair at which she ended up in last week’s “Tower of Davidstarts to dissipate this week, showing a whole new side to Carrie. Positivity Carrie. Still Fucked Over But Maybe There’s A Light At The End Of The Tunnel Carrie.

When we start the episode, she’s in a bad way. She has another case hearing, and both she and her lawyer are fairly confident that she’ll be released from the hospital. The testimony of various mental health professionals would appear to back this up, but the judge tells her that she can’t be released, for reasons of national security. She takes it surprisingly well, and calls home to speak to her father,  who should have been there but never showed up. Somebody had told him that the hearing was cancelled. Later on, she is released and returns home to find Franklin, the representative of somebody representing the Iranian backers of the Langley bombing. She begrudgingly accepts his invitation to meet his client, whom she discovers on seeing him that he himself has a mysterious client, who wants to meet. Clients upon clients upon clients.

All of this exposition is necessary to get to the nub of this episode, which I want to talk about here. The central conceit is that this meeting is where the Saul/Carrie bond is built anew – Carrie is actually working an undercover operation on behalf of Saul, to attempt to get closer to the Iranians that Saul and Fara are investigating.  Saul and Carrie’s relationship has been in tatters since he sold her down the river at the senate hearing, but this latest twist might cast the previous episodes in a new light – Saul’s instinctive duplicitousness with regards to handling the Iranians (more on that later) suggests that it might have been an arch plan all along. Get Carrie unstable emotionally, sell her to the agency as a pariah (the Iranians had to get her name from somewhere, right?) to set her up as a perfect candidate for being flipped by the Iranians. For a normal man, it’d be too many fingers in too many pies, but for big Saul? He could handle it. He could handle it easily.