Homeland recap: The Long Con

Carrie is released and meets with a mysterious client, while Dana runs away with Leo
Ep. 04 | Aired Oct 20, 2013

AN OFFER SHE CAN'T REFUSE Carrie makes a deal that forces her to compromise her ideals, but it's all a part of a plan, a plan Saul believes is working. Even so, this is Homeland, and I've got a sinking feeling it's not going to go smoothly from here.

Kent Smith/Showtime

With that, she leaves Bennett and Franklin behind, and spends five hours shaking off anyone who may have been following her in order to get to... Saul.

Instead of pushing past Mira and forcibly searching for Saul like the last time she visited his home, she calmly walks toward Saul and tells him, "It worked, Saul. They picked me up this morning."

Oh. Jaw, meet floor.

Saul begins questioning Carrie, asking about the meeting with Bennett until he's satisfied that the interested client is Javadi. "It has to be," Carrie emphasizes. Reassured, he gazes at Carrie, a warm smile spreading across his face, and then holds her face in his hands. "You're an amazing person, Carrie Mathison. Amazing," he tells her. "You've been very, very brave."

And at this, Carrie starts to cry. "You shouldn't have left me in there," she whimpers. "It's too hard. I can't keep going." But Saul tells her she can, then turns to go make her a cup of tea. She leans into him as he leads her inside, mentor and protege back together again. Game on, indeed.

So... what to make of all this? Three weeks ago, my jaw dropped when Saul threw Carrie under the bus. Two weeks ago, the same happened as I watched Carrie, struggling to form the words while on meds, say, "F--k... you... Saul" to his face. And now? My jaw hit the floor, but it returned just as quickly as I started to think about the implications of this twist. Frankly, I'm torn.

On the one hand, I like that the show's putting the plot in this direction, because it's forward-moving. I defended last week's episode as a necessary interlude of sorts -- a refresh button, a time out, a breather of an hour that allowed the show to refocus on their two main characters. In a way, "Game On" is doing what it should be doing -- opening the next chapter for Carrie and moving beyond the stagnant feeling Homeland had before.

But on the other hand, I don't like that the show pulled the rug out from under its audience. To me, that's something a lesser show would do, because the overarching questions Homeland has asked in the past (i.e. Has Brody been turned? Can Carrie be trusted in her state?) kept the characters in the dark along with the audience. Here, we're the ones left without knowledge of what's going on, and sure, the rest of the CIA doesn't know about Saul and Carrie, but we could care less about who's not on screen. Keeping the audience in the dark makes it hard for us to connect to the story. This twist feels more like a trick -- an alienating one.

And again, that also has to do with how little we know of Javadi. Yes, he's the Big Bad, but the suspense isn't kicking in -- he just doesn't seem threatening as a bevy of facts about his past. For a television show, we need faces, we need scenes, we need stories.

"I can't keep going," Carrie told Saul at the end of tonight's episode, and those lines could act as commentary for Homeland viewers. How long can the show hold onto its audience, an audience that admittedly asks a lot?

So that's where you come in, recap-readers. What did you make of "Game On"? Like the twist, or feel as skeptical as I am? Angry with the return of Dana, or pleased with the Leo development at the end? Glad to see Mike again? Wish we could have seen Quinn? (I know I did.)

And of course, most importantly, disappointed Chris Brody didn't make an appearance? What if he's behind everything?! You heard it here first. Whatever your thoughts, share them in the comments below.

Read EW's interview with 'Homeland' showrunner Alex Gansa, who talks tonight's big twist and defends season 3, over on Inside TV.

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