TV review: Homeland, season three, episode two - Even Claire Danes can't save this disaster
Channel 4's Homeland used to be brilliant. What happened?
Monday 14 October 2013
It hasn't been the easiest year for Homeland. A stellar first season gave way to a less believable second, and just recently the show was deposed as the chattering classes' dinner party favourite by Breaking Bad.
But it's worth remembering that, of all the acclaimed US dramas that have come our way in recent years, it is Homeland that occupies the largest territory in the public's imagination. Despite airing on Channel 4, where big ratings are hard to come by, it still bags a British audience of more than two million people per week. That's far more than any of the American shows nominated for the Best Drama Series award at the recent Emmys.
So it's sad to report that in this third season, something has gone drastically wrong.
The blame for lacklustre episodes of Homeland is usually levelled at the on-screen family of Damien Lewis's Nicholas Brody. His daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor) often takes the lion's share.
In this episode, Dana enjoys a romantic scene in a laundry room that is laugh-out-loud hilarious. There are so many sheets, draped so artfully, that Paul Verhoeven would be jealous. We watch Homeland for intelligent drama, not Dawson's Creek nonsense.
Her mother, Jessica, is so badly written that you have to feel for Morena Baccarin. A chilling moment – in which Jessica reveals that she couldn't scrub the blood from the bathroom tiles following Dana's suicide attempt – quickly gives way to standard-issue scenes of family strife. As Dana reveals that she feels good to be alive, Jessica just stands there crying. You'd give her a hug, wouldn't you?
She wasn't always such a drip. At her best, there was something of Evan S Connell's Mrs Bridge about Baccarin, which made scenes from the first two seasons – her reaction to her daughter's meltdown; being violently sexed by her husband – all the more amplified in their grotesquerie. I feel sorry for Jessica, now. The audience wants to give her the happy family she so desires, which surely means her arc has run.
But Homeland is about Claire Danes's unhinged agent Carrie Mathison, for which she just won a second consecutive Emmy. There is nothing to suggest she won't win another.
During last year's movie awards season, The Hollywood Reporter hosted a round-table discussion with actress contenders such as Amy Adams and Sally Field. The conversation turned to a lack of good roles for women in Hollywood, and Anne Hathaway said – with both admiration and a little jealousy – that Danes had the best role of anyone, whether on the big or small screen.
She probably isn't feeling quite as envious now. Danes is still brilliant, but Carrie has become too shouty, too abrasive. You want to join the CIA in shutting her up.
The clumsiest part of the episode saw Mandy Patinkin's Saul – now the head of the CIA – express discomfort at the sight of a colleague in a headscarf. Is this the same Saul who headed the Middle East division? Whose valued informants, you suspect, were wearing the very same item?
Perhaps we're being unfair on the show, perhaps our expectations were too high. But something needs sorting, and fast, because this is far from essential viewing.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show film
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'