HOMELAND Recap: “Still Positive”

     November 3, 2013


Isn’t Homeland just so much better without Brody?  I’m sorry Damian Lewis, I like you a lot (too much, probably — ask me about my unhealthy devotion to his portrayal of Dick Winters some time).  We even support the same football club.  But since the start of Season Two, the show doesn’t know what to do with you.  So, here we have a series now that is essentially a spy thriller, with some great acting performances.  I’m ok with that, but I understand why other people aren’t.  It isn’t necessarily what we signed up for, but it’s what we’ve got.  In light of that, “Still Positive” was a great episode.  However, remnants of the Brody plot are still spoiling the fun.  Hit the jump for why, “This is just the fucking beginning.”

homeland-season-3-posterLet’s get Dana out of the way first, because we all would like her out of the way generally.  I’ve defended the Dana plot in the past because, like the character of Sansa on Game of Thrones, I’ve felt she’s been unduly hated for just being a teenage girl.  Teenagers are annoying, and it’s nice for a show to actually portray that sometimes.  But “Still Positive” turned the tide on Dana.  Her desire to change her name was a nice gesture, especially since changing it to Jessica’s maiden named showed a bond there that Jessica needed to see (by the way, where was Chris when this was all happening?)

Dana’s sudden desire to move out, though, played out in an indefensible way.  It’s not her desire to distance herself from the infamy her father brought upon them that is irksome, it’s her lack of communication and, frankly, imagination to come up with an alternative plan.  Moving in with a friend isn’t going to change her life.  Announcing the move with dead eyes and acting offended that her mother would have a problem with her leaving their family, without comment, is nearly indicative of an emotional disorder.  What does she not understand about this not being ok behavior?  And why is Chris always so damn nice about everything?

Dana’s mistake — and the writers’ continuing mistake — is that she deserves this drama.  When the story shifts to the Brodys, it stalls out, even though Jessica is bravely making the best of Dana’s antics.  Her supporting the name change and even laughing with Chris about how the name does sound cool showed how much she’s trying to make everything ok with what they’ve been left with.  She even runs out to hand Dana a credit card so that she can continue to support her in any way she can.  But if that was the last we ever saw of Dana, would any viewer really be that upset?

 homeland-still-positive-claire-danesJust like the show, I’ve spent too much time on Dana.  But the other Brody-remnant that tarnished the energy and drive of “Still Positive” was the title’s reference: Carrie has about 200 pregnancy tests stowed in her bathroom, all positive.  We know she has an active and often random sex life, so it’s not that the kid has to be Brody’s (although I think we can safely assume that is her assumption).  This soap opera twist though is not something that makes sense within the framework of the story right now, and it’s what put a drag on Season Two.  Carrie’s struggle with bipolar and Saul’s directive is really enough — a surprise baby is not needed.  Despite her maternal instincts kicking in with the toddler at the crime scene, can anyone see Carrie as a parent?

All of that melodrama aside, what remained of “Still Positive” was good.  Saul’s connection with Javadi played out in a sudden and gruesome matter that shows a changing Saul, as did his interactions with Mira.  Quinn continues to be a quietly fantastic character, with his one-liners and support and respect of Carrie, even when he sees her crazy Brody map.  Carrie has continued to be a badass, not taking any shit from Javadi and playing things exactly as Saul would want her to.  And orbiting just above all of this is the reality of Saul losing his position at the CIA, putting everything in danger if Lockhart — possibly with the aid of Dar Adal — plot against Saul.  This is good stuff, even if it’s not the Homeland we all started off with.  If we can let that other Homeland go, the show should be able to do the same.  No more pregnancy tests and teenager pouts, please.  Let’s kick ass and catch bad guys.

Episode Rating: B

homeland-still-positive-claire-danes-1Musings and Miscellanea:

— I’m surprised Dana isn’t talking to Mike any more or trying to get counsel from him.

— Max!  Do I detect some crushing going on towards Fara?  Get you some, Max!

— “You may have me over a barrel, but I’ll never be your bitch” – Saul re: Javadi.

— So once again Homeland returns to its roots and tries to turn a man against his country.  They love this idea.

— Just in case we weren’t clear, because we haven’t seen him do anything really bad until this episode, Javadi is a damn monster.  Him casing out that house also makes sense now.

— Dar Adal is playing with fire!

— “Now I’m ready to see Saul” – Javadi.

— Saul’s interactions with Mira were so sad.  I think he knew a long time ago that he had really lost her, but was still glad she came back to him when there was a crisis.  He loves her, but knows he’s been on borrowed time with her.

— It only costs $41.50 to change your name, apparently!

— I don’t condone physical violence but … I really wanted Jessica to slap Dana.  Or better yet, for Chris to do it!

— “This is just the fucking beginning” – Quinn.