We’re back to a Brody-less episode this week on “Homeland” after last weeks Brody-centric outing “Tower of David.” Though “Game On” is the most spy oriented episode of the season so far it wasn’t engaging enough to make me not miss seeing Brody in Caracas, especially since something big seems to be going on there.
“Game On” is split almost directly down the middle between Carrie’s adventures and Dana’s, just like in “Uh.Oh.Aw.” While I had patience with Dana in that episode, I have absolutely none for her here. While Carrie is off meeting with terrorist lawyers and trying to stay one step ahead of the CIA Dana is off gallivanting around with Leo, her boyfriend from the psych ward. This is the first episode where I haven’t cared about Dana at all, and I’m beginning to feel the anger that seemingly everyone else feels about her.
“The agency is still weak. It could die from a common cold, and she’s a full blown contagion.”
Though I don’t think that the other half of the episode made up for the drudgery of Dana’s plot, and it raises some absolutely massive questions based on the twist at the very end, I overall liked it. Director David Nutter effectively captured Carrie’s paranoia after she is mysteriously released from the psych hospital. There’s a lot of shady looking people and cars moving around in the background, and it subtly and slowly tunes the viewer into Carrie’s paranoia.
“Game On” effectively uses “Homeland’s” rather limited supporting cast (even bringing a few old standbys into the fold) at the expense of the main cast. Seriously, where have Rupert Friend and Tracy Letts been the last few episodes, Tracy Letts especially. Virgil (David Marciano) Carrie’s best friend from seasons one and two makes a delightful appearance, and so does Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) as Brody’s former best friend. It’s always good to have these guys back in the mix, and hopefully they stick around. F. Murray Abraham as Dar Adal is particularly shady in this episode, though I’m still not convinced that the “Homeland” writers know what to do with him.
The newest actor I am most excited about is Martin Donovan as the shady high class lawyer who tries to recruit Carrie to be a turn coat. Donovan is slick enough to play a lawyer while still being disarming and charming enough to make you believe his bullshit. I’ve never seen Donovan in a role I didn’t like, and he’s a fairly high profile actor, so hopefully his time on “Homeland” is far from over.
“Say hi to your mom for me.”
The biggest thing about this episode, the thing that people won’t be able to stop talking about, is the twist at the very end. It comes out of absolutely nowhere and to me feels fairly sloppy. Essentially Carrie’s visit to Martin Donovan and her time at the mental institution was all part of a long con designed by Saul to get in close with the terrorists and capture their leader. Immediately I wondered “when the Hell did this plan kick in?” At the end of “Uh.Oh.Aw.” there was a lot of hate between Saul and Carrie, and there’s no way that all went away once Saul revealed to Carrie that he was going to put her through Hell all in the name of the CIA. I get that the CIA is going to chew Carrie up and take everything she has, but this seems extreme and not well thought out.
I will say though that the twist provided some much needed juice to “Homeland,” which has been much more subdued and rather lacking in excitement. At least now the status quo has been shaken up, and Carrie can once again be involved in a cat and mouse game between herself and a terrorist. The Dana plot is still too removed from “Homeland” to make me care, and I won’t even bother mentioning it in these reviews from here on in unless some crazy shit happens. I’m curious to see how the rest of the season plays out, but I’m still fairly reserved about it. Hopefully the writers have learned their lesson after season two, and can provide a daring and intense spy drama over the next nine weeks.
My Rating: 7/10