Homeland Season 3 Episode 1 recap

Nothing is, anymore. There’s only what was and isn’t any longer. It’s that weird, quiet space in the aftermath, and the show doesn’t squirm away from it. It’s there.

Firstly, there isn’t the CIA. Obviously. It was summarily blown up. 58 days, we are reminded, and over 219 lost lives. They repeat those numbers a lot, lest we forget.  They remind us that this is the biggest strike against the US since 9/11. 

What there is, in the absence of the CIA, is Saul – much more highly involved than before. He doesn’t seem altogether comfortable with this, obviously, but he’s not shirking his duty, either. Kind of as though he might have expected something like this to happen someday. There doesn’t exist the warm relationship between Carrie and Saul, either. In his official capacity he’s practically honor-bound to sell her out (and eventually does, live on what passes for CNN) but there’s something missing in his eyes, too. Two years (or many more) of dealing with Carrie has hardened him somehow, and Saul doesn’t protect her at all. At least in public, at least in front of his new associates. We never see Saul and Carrie alone, and given that we have time to see his wife Mira, and to hear about how well their relationship isn’t going, that’s entirely intentional. There is no Carrie in Saul’s life, at least not that can be seen.  Maybe that’s for self-protection. He also has a new CIA analyst to deal with, and he needs a stiff upper lip for that. His warmth seems completely gone.

There isn’t Carrie Matheson in any sort of powerful capacity, not officially and not in the force of nature way we’ve seen her before. She is merely an informational source for the examination tribunal, though they do have the grace to interview her behind closed doors because they don’t want to blow up networks of hers unnecessarily.   We reach about the seven-minute mark before someone asks her, in so many words, what she’s smoking. Which is exactly the antiquated type of comment that an old white guy would say, so points for that.

In fact, there isn’t the Carrie of any recent memory. She’s compliant and cooperative in her interrogations, and she’s open-faced and innocent in the spectre of anyone telling her she’s a threat to her country. There is, almost until the end, no indication of the Carrie we knew, and certainly not the Carrie who did anything to make sure Brody was safely in Canada. Instead, she’s having sex on her stairs (with, it’s implied, someone she met at Wal-Mart) and screaming at Saul for having betrayed her. He might not have, of course, but when it comes down to who might have done, it’s not like you believe him. He makes a point of interrogating someone else about it – mildly, as Saul does – but it’s not exactly satisfying. 

There’s Carrie’s family ,who always show up for an episode or two to carp about her medications (remember those nieces she loved?) and she gets to tremble in front of her father, who calls to tell her to do things like read the paper to learn the latest about herself, where she’s been outed in all but name. But it feels like what it probably is – the beginning of the season. Just a table-setter.

There is, surprisingly, still a Brody house. Because someone told Alex Gansa that we still care about them. Having said that, this part of the story is actually kind of interesting. The Brody family has been vilified and excommunicated – as you would expect. They harboured a criminal, or so the world thinks – so they’re not free to walk around in the world, and their lives and their finances are affected. I actually buy this, just like I buy that the family without Brody is more talkative than they’ve been in years. It’s saying something, especially since in the aftermath of Brody’s accusations and disappearance, Dana has made a pretty serious suicide attempt and part of Jess’s efforts to hold the family together with gum have included having the bathroom redone so Dana isn’t reminded of her fragile mental health.

Oh, and of course there isn’t any Brody.

This is where the show begins, where they swore to us they could make it work.  Brody should have died, maybe several times, but they couldn’t bring themselves to do it – so he lives, somewhere out there. The question is whether any of these characters and stories are better off if he comes back. This is a slower-moving premiere. There isn’t the manic energy of “The Smile”. This is an aftermath if we ever saw one. But it seems as though Brody’s absence should feel more like the other shoe about to drop, and it doesn’t, really. Not yet.

How did it make you feel?