Homeland Review: “The Yoga Play” (Season 3, Episode 5)

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So last week’s Homeland unveiled the grand plan. At least, that there was a grand plan. Saul and Carrie are actually working together against the Iranians, and when we thought she was offering her services to them, she was actually going undercover in their operation, to be a double agent against them. Her terms were simple – she would meet the Magician, now believed to be Majid Javadi, face to face, and wouldn’t give any names to jeopardize any agents in the field. These terms were agreed to.

Skip forward a few days, and Carrie is now under surveillance by the Iranians. She’s accepted this, indeed Saul and Quinn have apparently factored this into the operation, and the first half of this episode is dedicated to getting around the surveillance to carry out the “yoga play” of the title. I also mentioned last week that the episode seemed to be the first attempt to knit together the threads that are becoming slightly unwieldy and uncontrollable. We found that Javadi has links to Venezuela, where Brody is; it’s the location he’s currently using to launder the money that Saul and Fara (who unfortunately doesn’t feature in this episode) are chasing, to close in on Javadi. The link between Carrie and El Nino – leader of the Venezuelan mercenaries – isn’t yet known, but we’re certainly closer than we were two weeks ago.

Another convergence of story paths comes in the form of Dana and Leo’s ongoing lovers’ road trip. Jess, Dana’s mom, reaches out to Carrie to help find out where they are. Carrie goes to Virgil and Virgil’s brother Max to concoct a bait and switch, whereby Carrie goes to a yoga class and meets Virgil at the back door, leaving a lookalike in her place (you know, the handy lookalike everybody keeps on retainer?) to confront the agent responsible for keeping an eye on the Brodys. Phew, right? All a bit convoluted? Well, that’s this episode in a nut shell. Very convoluted, oddly paced, never really building enough momentum to deliver a nuclear pay off, not like last week’s exceptional revelation.

But, onwards and upwards. The second half of the episode is what happens as a result of the yoga play, and helps to set up up the next Big Story of the series – the identity of the soon-to-be crowned Director the CIA. Saul has been Acting Director for a while now, so of course everybody assumed that, because he’s been doing a reasonably good job, he’d stay on. He’s had a few good assassinations, and seems to be having a modicum of success (with Fara’s help) in chasing the money, having identified Javadi and his scheme. Why wouldn’t he be allowed to stay on?

Well, Homeland being Homeland, they have a little trick that they like to do. If you don’t see a character for two or three episodes, they explode back on screen with a big role. A huge revelation, or at the very least, a surprising development – just think of Brody’s extended disappearance. They do it again here, by announcing the president’s intentions as to who he’ll make Director of the CIA. Who could it be?