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

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But that’s not all we see of Saul this episode, no way. After taking his advice and chasing the money – apparently the key to solving any crime – she has discovered that the Magician has been laundering money stolen from the Iranian government through a football team in Venezeula, of which he is the majority shareholder. Venezeula! Where Brody is! And where that scary guy knows Carrie! All roads to Venezeula.

Anyway, Fara wants to go ahead and spill the beans on what they’ve discovered, but Saul’s instinctive reaction is to hold fire, and wait to see what happens next. Wait for the Magician to put his foot in it. They’ve given him the circumstances, they’re watching, and they’re in control. Saul just wants to see what happens next, like his situation with Carrie.

Franklin pointed out to Carrie that it sounded like she was “already in prison,” and that was what came across really well in Game On. She was released from hospital, sure, but her car had been impounded. Her credit cards cancelled. Her passport rescinded. She has no options, nowhere to go. In that instant the days of her biggest problem being impressing a nurse, or a judge, seemed like long ago. Was the hospital actually the only place she was truly safe? It’s like the agreement she made with herself that she’d do whatever it took to impress the judge, and her tacit acceptance of her circumstances and just shutting up and taking her medicine, literally, is something she’s had to carry through to the outside world. She has to just shut up and accept her circumstances, and Saul will see her through. But at what cost? Will she ever see Brody again? Do we want her to? And what’s her link to Venezuela?

Brody doesn’t turn up in this episode, by the way. Gutted, right? He was electrifying in the last episode, maybe because he’s been gone for so long, or maybe because he took the story in a new and surprising direction. That is what the Carrie/Saul ending here did – it took the story in a genuinely surprising direction. It’s a genuinely shocking moment, and the first real wrongfooting that Homeland has dealt us so far the season, all the more shocking for appearing pretty much out of freaking nowhere.

I hesitate to think too long and hard about the actual logistics of it, because it is so dramatically satisfying that I don’t want it to crumble apart in my fingers. It makes sense thematically, if not logically, but then who said Homeland had to be logical? If Homeland was logical, Saul would be in prison. That’s the fact of the matter. When and how Saul and Carrie got in contact to hatch their little plan doesn’t matter really. It could have been a result of Carrie calling her father, and her telling him to call Saul. Maybe he met her from the hospital. Maybe he hid in her mailbox, who cares? The payoff is worth the conceit.

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