Homeland has returned, and we’re immediately thrown back in the deep end. The first episode of season three lags in some areas, but it manages to cram a whole lot of story, duplicity, and action (mostly offscreen) into a single hour of television. There’s peaks and troughs throughout, but in this, the first episode post-Breaking Bad, is it really good enough?
Judging “Tin Man is Down” by the show’s own parameters, it definitely does its job. Homeland‘s strength has always been in its ability to show how Nicholas Brody’s actions realistically affect everybody who finds themselves in his orbit, whether that be his increasingly damaged family, the literal wreckage he leaves behind at the Langley, or the emotional impact that the events of Season 2’s finale have had on the shows erstwhile emotional centre, Carrie.
Since the explosion, Carrie has hit the rails. She’s drinking, following the teachings of an alternative medicine practictioner, and apparently having meaningless sex with just about any man with ginger hair. She spends this episode either committing perjury before a congressional committee, or in her pyjamas – a sorry mental state. Another Homeland staple of how one’s professional actions affect their personal life is in full effect as Carrie lies to her dad about her drinking. She’s become so inured to lying for what she sees as the greater good – a greater good that we’re still not sure of, remember – that it comes as easily as breathing now.
Seedlings for potential storylines this season are also sown in this episode – Dar Adal reigned over this hour of Homeland, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that he is the person responsible for leaking CIA documents incriminating Carrie and revealing Brody’s immunity deal to the congressional committee. Elsewhere, Dana takes an ill-advised selfie that will definitely come back to haunt her later on in the season, and Jessica’s journey back into the world of work as the estranged wife of the world’s most wanted terrorist will no doubt also loom large over proceedings.
The Brodys have always been the real victims in this whole saga, be it in the very beginning when Nick was missing in Iraq, to the pressure of his sudden elevation to hero status, and his subsequent fall from grace and disappearance. Their lives have been destroyed over and over again, and even if Brody isn’t actually a terrorist after all: a question that, to their credit, the writers of Homeland have actually managed to leave off actually answering for two whole seasons now, after all this he will never truly be innocent. This could end up being the central thesis of Homeland, the question of what makes somebody a terrorist. Brody has terrorised his family for years now, and could have prevented it at any time. Perhaps he has his reasons, perhaps he doesn’t.