There has always been something grotty and amoral about Homeland. From the beginning, the show has presented a drone-cam vision of a topsy-turvy world, one devoid of good guys and bad guys, right and wrong. In fact, it's a world that barely qualifies as a world at all: just a daisy-chained collection of safe houses and cabins, of anodyne condos and sterile conference rooms populated by well-intentioned patsies, Machiavellian suits, and jacked-up spies too busy getting off on being watched to pay much attention to what's actually going on all around them.
And so, during my time away from the show these past three weeks (I was scoping out rental properties in Caracas; lots of open spaces but not much overhead — often literally), I actually came to appreciate the greasy film of seediness and disgust coating the A-story in this challenging third season. With Brody's ghost haunting the margins and his body covered in track marks in a Venezuelan squat, the remaining characters have seemingly given up any pretense of doing their jobs. Instead they're stuck in frustrating, self-made ruts: crazed Carrie flushing pills and circling the drain; cuckolded Saul playing checkers while his enemies, at home and abroad, play chess; Quinn driving around dumbly in an SUV and slipping through the sliding glass doors like some desperate, suburban security guard. In the wake of the 12/12 bombing, the actual adults have returned to wrest control of national security from a rogue cabal of homegrown emotional terrorists who came close to wrecking the country over a high-stakes game of footsie. At times it has seemed to me as if Homeland is admitting something about itself with this dead-end twiddling. It's the sight of a mistaken-for-highbrow show coming clean about its own filthy heart.