There was some reticence on the part of Homeland fans this year coming into the new season. While Season Two started off with some of the best and more heartbreaking scenes of Carrie battling depression and contemplating suicide, it soon spiraled into a number of dubious soap-opera plots, including Carrie and Brody’s on-off again affair and Dana’s Very Bad Mistake. But early word on the new season was that so many of these wrongs were righted, and that it again starts off strong. It does. In fact, “Tin Man is Down” is all about paying for the mistakes of the past, and moving on. It was a refreshing start, and one full of potential for the upcoming season. Hit the jump for why, on many levels, “a win would be nice. Another fuck up would be fatal.”
“Tin Man is Down” picks up several months after the events of “The Choice,” which had Carrie aiding Brody with his escape, mostly convinced of his innocence. Her conviction has grown with time, whereas the rest of the country has condemned him as a traitor and Public Enemy #1. Carrie, in her desire to defend him, is (no surprise) being dragged down by him again. Her name has been too closely associated with his, and as “Tin Man Is Down” came to a close, the leaks about her relationship with Brody were confirmed at the hearing by Saul, a devastating public act of betrayal.
Saul has always had a tough time reconciling his personal life with work. His relationship with Carrie in the first season was a study on how far a mentor would go to protect his prodigy. Ultimately though, his belief in her was backed up by Brody’s actions and the ability to use Brody to get to the main target of Abu Nazir. Mira, too, has been a casualty of his work life. He loves her an incredible amount, but can’t completely commit because of his desire to keep work ahead of everything. In “Tin Man is Down,” he’s asked to choose between the health and future of the agency and Carrie’s reputation, both secretly by his friend Dar Adal, and then publicly by Senator Andrew Lockhart.
Of course, as the acting director of the CIA, Saul can still keep Carrie on the case and off the books, but it was the public betrayal that stung. Surely that’s going to cement even further her conviction that helping Brody over the CIA was the right choice, although this season might have been more interesting if she was in on the hunt rather than wishing him well out in the wide blue yonder (I have a feeling she will end up hunting him down one way or another). The show did another nice turn though when, after Saul’s hemming and hawing, the mission turned out to be a success — but the Senator called it “easy” and “conveniently” timed, undermining the entire operation (and the death of an innocent child).
Too many series and movies trade upon the idea that “taking out the bad guy at any cost” is an ancillary issue. One of Homeland‘s great successes has been to make that the issue. It was the death of Nazir’s son, who Brody had bonded with, that caused Brody to turn on his country and do many bad things besides. In “Tin Man is Down,” Quinn aborts his first mission to kill his target when he sees the son in the car with him. Later though, he kills him anyway (accidentally), and is obviously affected by it. It’s a way to show that these “enemy combatants,” as Saul says, are often surrounded by innocents. And if the situation was reversed to our country, how would we handle it? It’s not an easy question.
Things at the Brody household are where the show can often drag, but there are several things worth noting in what we learned in this premiere episode. First of all, that Dana attempted suicide from the horror and pressure of everything that happened (how’s Chris doing, though?), and secondly, that Mike seems to be, for now, out of the picture. To that second point, Jessica is off looking for work and creating her own future. She’s not relying on Brody or Mike to take care of her, she’s striking out on her own. This could be a stronger, more interesting Jessica from here on out, which would be a welcomed change.
The bottom line: the show is back to form so far, with so many places for it to go. Let’s hope it stays the course. “What did the optimist say as he jumped off of a building? So far so good!”
Episode Rating: B+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— So Carrie has been off her meds, but on an “alternative regime.” It doesn’t seem to be working too well. Her outburst at Saul in the restaurant was classic Carrie. I’m glad the show has decided to bring that back to the forefront instead of ignoring it. It’s clear Carrie is manic again (if not fully manic), from her scrawled notes and map of Brody’s possible whereabouts to her impulsive casual sex and emotional outbursts.
— Speaking of which, there was so much chin-quivering in this episode!
— Looks like one of the major questions of this season is going to be: who’s the leak?
— “Just what is it you’re smoking, Miss Mathisen?” – Senator Lockhart.
— Loved Saul’s speech to Mira about the purpose of the CIA: “We’re spies, not assassins.” A nice reminder to what it should be, anyway. I’m sad about Mira’s relationship with Saul, though. I hope they are able to find happiness, but he seems incapable of giving it to himself.
— If Carrie has been working at the agency for 14 years, how old does that make her?
— Those tabloid vultures were quick to pounce on Jessica and Dana, weren’t they? Who else thinks this sexting with her rehab boyfriend is going to end badly, by the way? Dana needs to be single for awhile, me thinks.
— “Did [Abu Nazir] outsmart me? Yes. Will I ever forgive myself? No.” – Carrie