Just when it seemed like season three of Homeland was slipping into an irremediable black hole of far-fetched storylines (e.g. Lost) and stale character development (e.g. Weeds), episode four, “Game On,” shattered the monotony with a shocking twist. Of the three plotlines addressed in the episode, two were compelling, and one was Dana Brody’s (Morgan Saylor) contrived emotional circus.
Dana picks up her boyfriend, Leo (Sam Underwood), from the mental ward and they drive away together as fugitives on the run. They smoke joints, ride around, and exchange her mom’s car for a clunker in order to remain traceless. They have some deep conversations, but Dana’s eyebrows were the really the only fascinating aspect of this storyline.
Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) learns that the CIA’s recent hire, Fara (Nazanin Boniadi), made a breakthrough in researching the Langley bomb culprit, for which Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) is presumed guilty. Saul posits that the bombing order came not from Abu Nazir (who was already dead upon detonation), but his terrorist enemy counterpart, Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub). Fara discovered that the Iranian terrorists from Javadi’s camp were laundering money through American bankers, and five percent was getting skimmed off the top and stored in the soccer stadium in Caracas to be claimed as receipts from the matches. The soccer club hierarchy is structured in such a way that the majority shareholder is unidentifiable, but Fara had reason to believe that Javadi is in the mix, using a pseudonym. Also, Caracas is where Brody is currently stationed, which doesn’t make sense yet, but is important to note.
Meanwhile, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is locked in a prison of the CIA’s making. After she divulged agency secrets to the press, the CIA declared her a security threat and mandated a mental hospital stint with no specified discharge date. At a hospital hearing to discuss Carrie’s status and potential release, all of her caseworkers give glowing accounts of her progress and medical compliance. But since the agency put a block on her case, the judge couldn’t release her, explaining that when she began her job, she signed away several constitutional rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Hours later, a hospital worker lets Carrie know that a court in Maryland approved her release (from a hospital in…Virginia) and that she is free to go. She comes home to find a creepy lawyer with exquisitely manicured eyebrows (great brows on this show) sitting on her couch, asking her to meet with his boss the next day. Carrie wants to avoid him, but after he explains that his company was the culprit behind her hospital release (and that it held the power to put her right back in), she’s ready to listen.
After he leaves, Carrie runs to her safe to gather necessities: gun and passport. She finds out that the CIA has repossessed her car, frozen her bank account, is following her, and that she’s on the TSA’s no-fly list. Helpless and under complete surveillance, she runs to her Brody-doppelgänger supermarket sex buddy, and, in the morning, she steals his cash.
On her way out, the creepy lawyer pulls up in a big black car and he escorts her to a beautiful, scenic estate. As she waits in the living room, she eats a single grape from a bowl, as if submitting to the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Finally, the law firm bigwig greets Carrie and explains that his clients in Iran want to speak with her on an as-needed basis to discuss questions for which she has insider information. Her gut reaction is to shun the offer and patriotically uphold her allegiance as she waves off the risk for a jail sentence. But when the law boss notes that she’s basically already in jail, and that the people she seeks to protect are hurting her, she changes her tune.
Carrie decides that she’d meet with his clients (only face to face and she’d never name names) and then goes to pay Saul a surprise visit. And guess what? THE WHOLE THING WAS PLANNED. At some point after the bombing, Carrie and Saul agreed to see out the elaborate (and dangerous and nearly impossible) plan to appear as enemies while working toward a mutual goal. Carrie would allow herself to become the national scapegoat, to come across as a mentally unstable security hazard, and to knowingly submit to federally mandated institutionalization—all in the hopes of the Iranians seeking her out as a traitor. And they did!
If everything goes as planned, and Carrie doesn’t win a Nobel Prize and isn’t approached for film rights to her story for a biopic, it will be clear that there is no order in the world. But obviously, noting will go as planned.