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Homeland – The Yoga Play Review: A Great Improvement

“The Yoga Play” is probably the best episode of the sluggish third season, though it’s not as if its predecessors set the bar very high. Following the underwhelming introductory episodes this latest installment, with actual story progression, complications and sufficiently tense scenes, feels like a much-needed change of pace and direction.

After last week’s reveal that Carrie and Saul have been working together to rope in the Iranians, there is a clearer objective for Carrie to pursue and the narrative becomes more cohesive. Though I’m not necessarily content with how exactly the operation came to be and how it was revealed (much of what we saw in those first four episodes turned out to be part of an elaborate scheme, misleading the audience) I am definitely happy with the direction the series is taking since the revelation was made.

Carrie is back in full force this week, once again going off her meds (oh brother), and stubbornly compromising the success of an operation because of a member of the Brody family. Oh, Dana. Dana Brody! It wasn’t enough for the writers to infuriate viewers with their incessant need to feature Dana excessively in these past episodes, but now she is responsible for wrecking Carrie and Saul’s operation. I believe that Carrie would go out of her way to make sure Dana is found, because of her affection for Brody, or the reasons she spouts to agent Hall, it makes sense that she would go so far as to potentially compromise her position with the Iranians. However, I don’t buy that Jessica would go pleading to Carrie, especially since her (Carrie’s) highly publicized fall from grace. Why would Jessica think that this disgraced former(?) CIA agent, who was very recently institutionalized, have any pull over the police department, FBI, etc.? Also, Jessica was always cold and distant towards Carrie (understandably so, she was aware of Brody’s affair and everything) and such a sudden turn is seemingly out of character, regardless of her concern and desperation. Despite the unlikeliness of the situation, Morena Baccarin’s performance in that brief scene quelled my skepticism and sold the storyline. It was what spurred Carrie into action this episode and what ultimately led to the devastating final moments.

As usual the weakest aspect of the episode was the unbearable Dana/Leo road trip. Its irrelevance is now even more pointed because it appears to have been an elaborate ruse (by the writers) to eventually get Carrie to compromise her objective. If all they wanted was an obstacle for Carrie to overcome and make her revisit her old covert ways, why did they invest so much time building this doomed relationship between Dana and Leo? We can assume that this episode marks the end of their liaison (thank goodness) so the time invested in the development of the character and their interactions was time wasted on something that would quickly come to an end. Dana could have been in a similar precarious situation without putting us through the torture that was her depressing love life. As someone who believes that Dana is a valuable character and have previously enjoyed her involvement in the show (mostly when she interacted with Brody) it would have been interesting to see her development as a character, without any distracting extraneous characters, after the bombing at the CIA. Instead the writers dismissed anything that could have been slightly involving and instead opted for a tedious, clichéd teenage love story.

On the bright side, the Dana/Leo ordeal is the most offensive part of the hour and the rest of the episode is fairly successful. Carrie’s brief mission provided a much-needed dose of tension and suspense to the show, even if we have seen these kinds of schemes time and time again on Homeland. It was fun watching a determined Carrie pull off (or so we think) a risky procedure under severe time constraints. Not to mention the final sequence is sufficiently tense and anxiety laden. If only Quinn had moved in a bit earlier! It seems that Carrie’s yoga outing definitely put Javadi’s team on alert and as a result they went on the offensive (or it could have been their plan all along).

Saul encounters his own obstacles as he is faced with the brutal reality that he will not, in fact, be nominated to head the CIA, instead it’s the very stern and seemingly narrow-minded Andrew Lockhart. Saul is no doubt unhappy with this development and makes his feelings fairly known to everyone in the dinner party. With his open disapproval of the change in command, it seems that his days in the agency are limited. How this plays out in the following episodes will be interesting to see. “The Yoga Play” leaves us with an engaging sense of uncertainty, Carrie is on her finally face to face with Javadi, but essentially powerless and defenseless; and Saul’s future in the agency is questionable at best as Lockhart is poised to take over and enact some serious changes. And now that Dana’s romantic interludes are hopefully over, we can look forward to the more intriguing and successful facets that make Homeland a show to look forward to.

 Closing Thoughts:

– No Brody again, though now that we are getting more of Javadi and his team and since we know that they are laundering money in Caracas (where he owns a baseball team), where Brody is conveniently held prisoner, I’m sure that we’ll be seeing more of him soon.

– Poor Saul, he had the worst day ever, gets shut down on the CIA job, comes home to find his wife having an intimate dinner with some suave looking dude, and then learns that Carrie has been abducted and their objective compromised. Tough luck.

– Best thing that happened this episode?

Rating
7.6

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