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‘Homeland’ Review: “The Yoga Play”

Homeland The Yoga Play
Showtime

On an all-new episode of ‘Homeland,’ Carrie puts herself and the mission on the line to help Jess find a still-missing Dana, while Saul goes on a hunting trip with his rival, Senator Lockhart, only to discover some rather surprising — and unsettling — news. And a mysterious Iranian man enters the U.S. via Canada — might we finally be meeting our mysterious terrorist?

This season of ‘Homeland’ is falling into that rather repetitive rhythm — episodes with not a whole lot of action until the final act, wherein progress finally comes into play. Unlike the previous two episodes, which didn’t feature as much narrative momentum as they did thematic exploration, “The Yoga Play” meanders a bit before finally pulling the trigger.

For instance, why send Jessica over to seek Carrie’s help in finding Dana? We know she’ll say yes because — surprise — she’s flushed her meds down the toilet yet again in an act of impetuousness that’s become all-too common for our protagonist. It’s not that it’s unbelievable, either; for someone like Carrie, living with bipolar disorder, all it takes is one impulsive moment and off she goes down the spiral again. Sure, we need a reason for Carrie to put herself in a situation where her double agency could possibly be revealed to the Iranian’s men, who have been following her. But sending Jessica over in a desperate attempt to find Dana seems like a stretch, even by ‘Homeland’ standards. That said, Morena Baccarin really works her one big scene this week, and she’s been consistently delivering some rather emotional work.

The big cliffhanger reveal this week is the man who we see at episode’s beginning — a mysterious Iranian man whom we rightly assume to be Jabhadi/the Magician, and judging from the men he sends over to strip Carrie down and throw a bag over her head (this show is so fond of bagging heads) to deliver her to their first meeting, this guy means business … and he might also know that she’s not being exactly forthcoming about her ongoing involvement with the CIA. But that doesn’t matter to Saul, who is a little too excited about Carrie being captured. When Quinn, who’s been assigned to tail Carrie’s tails, warns that she’s on her own, you can practically see David Caruso slipping on his sunglasses in the opening of a ‘CSI: Miami’ episode as Saul says, “She’s always been on her own,” and the music swells dramatically. It’s all just a bit too pat. We’re asked to believe that Carrie and Saul had been plotting this maneuver since right after the Langley bombing, which doesn’t account for Carrie’s very realistic mental breakdown — or was it just a coincidence that she was losing her mind just when Saul needed her to do so?

Speaking of Saul, he takes a hunting trip with Senator Lockhart and some other government gentlemen, only to discover that the president is confirming Lockhart as the new head of the CIA instead of Saul. What this means for his current mission and Carrie’s safety remains unclear, as Saul continues to act a bit more recklessly, driven more by revenge than a patriotic sense of duty. The Magician is his white whale, and he is Captain Stubing. At least he has the beard. We also get a little of that passive-aggressive Saul charm when he delivers some backhanded compliments to Lockhart upon his official announcement, and it’s intriguing to contemplate how these two adversaries will continue to bump heads as their fighting styles, so to speak, go against each other.

Meanwhile, over in teenage wasteland, Dana discovers Leo’s secret about his brother — which wasn’t so much a suicide pact as it was some sort of moronic, morbid game between the two of them … or at least that’s what he vaguely explains. But it’s all too much for Dana, who’s just tired of being lied to, so she gives herself up to the cops (conveniently called by a passing motorist) and heads home to cry in her room where everything isn’t alright, despite what she tells her mother. It’s sad, but there comes a time in every teenage life where a heart must be broken for a lesson to be learned — it’s just unfortunate that she’s had to endure so much dishonesty from those she’s entrusted with her heart at such a young age. But also: maybe we never have to see Leo and these weird road trip ‘Twilight’ scenes again!

You know who I like? Quinn. He’s such a great guy, and reflecting back on his introduction in season 2, he’s totally not the sort of guy we expected him to be. He believes in Carrie, and unlike Saul, he thinks there’s a way to get the mission accomplished without constantly tying her to the railroad tracks. And he’s kind of a bad-ass.

You know what I don’t like? The serious lack of Virgil this season. The petition to give Virgil more to do on ‘Homeland’ starts right here.

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