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Homeland' episode 5 recap: the fall of Saul and redemption of Dana

[Note: This post contains spoilers about the fifth episode of the third season on "Homeland."]

(photo from Showtime/ Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)Two weeks ago, "Homeland" transported us to Venezuela and checked in on the status of our favorite is-he-or-isn't-he-a-terrorist Nicholas Brody (and with it, my theory on what Brody's future will be). But since that lengthy stretch in the Tower of David, we haven't seen Brody one time, last week and again tonight.

Damian Lewis said Brody remains "central" to this season, which means we'll see him again, but until his on-screen return we're left with the mess behind for others - both professionally and personally. Besides Carrie, arguably no two characters have felt the after effects of Brody's emotional detonation and destruction than Saul and Dana, as Mandy Patinkin and Morgan Saylor brilliantly showed us tonight.

Javadi, the new terrorist antagonist this season with Brody in Caracas and Abu Nazir sleeping with bin Laden, crosses the border from Canada to the U.S. - perhaps a callback to the fact that Brody made the opposite move only six episodes before.

Peter Quinn goes to Saul's house, who is dressing for a duck hunt with members of the White House staff as well as Sen. Andrew Lockhart, who we last saw locking horns with Saul in a Congressional hearing. Saul lets Quinn know he's hoping to hear word he'll be named permanent head of the CIA - and he also lets him in on the secret. It was "all an act, part of the plan," he tells a shocked Quinn about Carrie.

Carrie's preparations to meet with Javadi are interrupted by Jessica Brody, who asks for her help finding Dana. Carrie starts with Agent Hall of the FBI, who wants nothing to do with her. She eventually tracks him down, and he reiterates his lack of concern for the situation. Carrie's still being watched on behalf of Javadi, but now she has someone else watching her - Quinn. As he makes himself known to her, and let's her know he's aware of their covert operations, there's the hint of flirtation. A new love interest for Carrie, with Brody stuck in the Tower of David (and perhaps, for the recently renewed season four)?

On the duck hunt (actually, it's geese hunt season), Sen. Lockhart pairs himself with Saul, and Saul let's him know that "morale is good, we're moving forward." But Saul is not going to be made permanent - instead, in a biting few minutes, Lockhart explains that it is he who will be the new Director of the CIA: "This really isn't about tempering your views, it's about changing them, if, that is, you want a job...in my CIA."

The CIA will be changing, thanks to Saul's screw-ups, perpetrated by Brody (and those for which he is still blamed). And Saul will not be the one to do the changing.

Saul doesn't hold back in trading barbs with his apparent future boss, spoiling a festive toast by warning he can't be "just another political appointee holding up his finger to see which way the wind is blowing."

Appointing the agency's biggest critic is a great device for political wrangling to play out for the rest of the season - this is what made "Homeland" great. I never thought I'd long for the David Estes plots, but his presence provided an additional element to the show that's been missing all season.

Losing out on the job was just the beginning of the bad news for Saul. Carrie was no longer being watched - did they suspect she was working with the CIA, and with cover blown their shot at Javadi was gone? And arriving home early from the hunt, he's greeted to his wife having dinner with another man - is she cheating?

The answer to the latter appears to be 'yes,' but the former likely is 'no.' Two men break into Carrie's home, order her to take her clothes off, break her phone, put a hood on her head and take her away. "We're back in business," says Saul.

The other storyline of the night was with Dana Brody. Dana (and the actress, Morgan Saylor) have gotten a bad wrap over the last couple years, but the truth is the issue is more with the writing and less about the actress herself. As the "suicide pact" makes local news, Dana overhears the information and confronts her runaway boyfriend. He stumbles, she runs and he eventually comes clean. But the police come, and Dana runs to them. Upon arriving home, she tells her worried mom, "I'm ok, really." And it seems like she is.

There were subtle inferences connecting Dana Brody's character with Carrie Mathison, but let's avoid those. It was good to see what felt like a conclusion to this Dana plotline. Now we can deal with the continued fallout of her belief that everything her father told her since his return from captivity was a lie. That relationship, even with Brody in absentia, is fertile ground.

It looks like we're ready for a Carrie-Javadi showdown, the next phase of the psychological warfare that has worked well for the show. And Saul's Brody failure has cost him dearly, leading to the political battles to come with Sen. Lockhart.

Seeing Brody away from the homeland has put "Homeland" back on track.

One last thing…
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