'Homeland' Review: CIA Thriller Starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin Back To Original High Standards

REVIEW: Just When We'd Given Up All Homeland Hope...

It's back!! 'Homeland'... You remember? That series we admired so much from Day One, back when Brody was a hero on the turn, and even Mike wasn't annoying?

This series, I think we're all agreed, had been just about written off as the time when this Emmy Award-winning hit on both sides of the Atlantic ran out of juice, jumped the shark, joined Bobby Ewing in the shower, you name it...

Homeland - back where it belongs, with no Dana in sight...

But, judging by last night's episode, standards have been restored. Writers had mercifully given up on caring about Dana's hormones, and put us back where we belonged, deep in the internecine squabbles of the CIA.

Which meant we had some jiggery-pokery of a classic chessboard inquisition scene between Saul and Javadi, with both men sharing secrets we are not yet party to, and culminating in Saul Berenson defying his seniors, planning a "regime-change", and sending the man with the chequebook behind the CIA atrocity, never mind his own arch-Nemesis, BACK to Iran - the same man we'd watched find a violent use for a wine bottle in the previous episode, that did NOT involve putting a spoon in the top and bunging it back in the fridge.

*Does anybody think Saul's square-head CIA rival will ACTUALLY replace him in nine days, and kick Beardy to the kerb? I think not, but the deadline does give it an extra kick...

Meanwhile, a (13 weeks pregnant) Carrie proved as predictable as ever, in her tendency to go rogue in the interest of REAL justice aka love for Brody, trying to intercept a CIA operation, and thus put months of work to waste. But even this wasn't so annoying as in previous episodes. Why not? Because, for her efforts, she got shot! By the CIA! With quivering Quin calmly taking her down in the interest of national security.

Although this takes being put in the naughty corner at school to a whole new level, this turn of events was far more acceptable in context than what we've had previously... Carrie somehow going off-message, wrecking the operation but coming home with the goods and being forgiven by her benevolent ol' protector, Saul Berenson, and living to see another CIA day.

Carrie - ALWAYS Brody, whatever's going on

Saul was too busy, anyway. When he wasn't disappearing with a suitcase full of notes to reclaim our missing hero Brody - remember HIM? - he was busy disappearing with some tasteless teacups to reclaim some wifely affections. "They're the only two left from the set," he told Mira, who looked relieved, but ready to smash these two accidentally on purpose.

Instead, this episode saw her having a brief mistake of a rebound fling with a spikey-looking fellow you just knew had to be up to no good, from the moment he told her, "I love making love with you," thus revealing himself immediately as a spy who'd learnt how to seduce subjects by watching too many 70s porn flicks. And so it proved. Homeland, it's so good to have you back!

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