“I’m a professional. I’m paid to make arguments, online not wave a flag.” -Benett
After last week’s disappointing episode of Homeland, it felt like nearly anything would be an improvement. But the latest episode—entitled “Game On”— did more than improve on its predecessor. It set the show up in an excellent new direction (one, it should be noted, that features Brody less and less).
The episode opened with Carrie (Claire Danes) still in the psychiatric hospital, where it seems that Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) is in complete control. Saul (Mandy Patinkin) has placed his right-hand man in charge of Carrie and Dar Adal is doing whatever he can to keep her quiet. From lying to her family about a hearing that would decide her fate to telling a judge that she poses a national security risk, he’s blocking her from leaving the facility.
“The agency is still weak, Saul. It could die of a common cold and she’s a full-blown contagion,” Dar Adal says to Saul and for most of the episode, we believe that the two are on the same page.
But in a twist reminiscent of some of the series’ best (Brody’s a real terrorist, Saul discovers Brody’s confession), it turns out that Saul and Carrie are in cahorts and have been since the beginning of the season. More revelatory than confounding, this surprisingly effective twist clears up some of the questions that were presented earlier this season. It’s now clear that Saul leaked the information about Carrie’s affair with Brody to the press. It’s also clear that Saul has never lost his loyalty to his former apprentice and that the two have just been working on a long-term plan to take down the terrorists who bombed Langley.
It’s also now clear that Dar Adal can not be trusted. In last night’s episode, Saul obviously did not want to share his conversation with Nara (Nazanin Boniadi), the new CIA specialist, with Adal. And the CIA chief Saul also wants Adal to believe that the two are loyal to each other— in fact, Saul has given him complete discretion over Carrie to him— but that power is a façade. It will be interesting to see when Adal realizes that he’s being played.
Last night’s episode also featured the return of two big characters from the show’s first two seasons. Jessica Brody’s beau Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff) returned. His entry was used as a vehicle for his girlfriend to realize that her daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) has run away with a man who may or may not have killed his younger brother. Virgil (David Marciano), Carrie’s loyal ally, also returned in a bit part. When given the opportunity to set Carrie up for a trap, he rejected it and proved his continued loyalty towards her.
The show now has a clear agenda set up. Carrie has the opportunity to bypass Benett, the lawyer who asked her to sell CIA secrets to his client, and get close to the real monster who blew up the CIA headquarters. Saul has the opportunity to investigate the situation with Nara. And Dar Adal has enough rope to show which side he truly is on.
Brody was pleasantly absent from his episode, which made the show’s focus even more clear than it would have been otherwise. A great improvement over last week’s episode, “Game On” shows that the excitement of this season is only just beginning.