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'Homeland's' Carrie plot twist now officially a lightning rod

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 2). (Credit: Showtime)

"Homeland's" Sunday episode, "Game On,"  is suddenly one of those "TV events" everyone has to have an opinion on, and I suppose that would include me. So, the choices before us are apparently this:

a.) A brilliant twist that completely catapulted "Homeland" into an intriguing new place (and best of all, ends all those Carrie Mathison crying jags)?


b.) One of the stupidest twists in "Homeland" history, that once again proves the writing staff is completely at sea, and resorting to gamey gimmicks that no self-respecting TV show would ever fall back on...?  

Really, the opinions are that polarized, although I do wish there was a third option:

c.) : Not so bad, and certainly no worse than having Abu Nazir hiding out in some hole last season, playing Texas Hold 'Em with the rats until his bed is discovered by Carrie...I mean really! 

Spoilers after this, so beware - do not read if you have not seen - but without question, the nays have a pretty strong case here. Consider that a chunk of the first three episodes were based on a deception - one only hazily enforced, or enforced in ways that beggared logic.  

As you now know, Carrie was playacting the whole time - pretending to be burned simply as a ruse to draw out the terrorists. To affect her release from the mental ward, she agreed to become a double agent - Bennett, Martin Donovan's snake-tongued villain -, then in the last few minutes, beats her way to Saul's house where the big reveal arrives. Saul was behind this; it all worked to perfection.  Eureka.

How to explain Carrie's - Claire Danes' - immensely compelling emotional breakdowns, some in private, over the past few episodes? Who knows - not for me to explain. But they do certainly suggest that "Homeland" came to this plan after the season began, as one of those course corrections designed to extricate it from a hole.

Foremost, Carrie-as-deranged has gotten awfully old, and while this may be a component of her character, you  - and by you I mean fans - don't want it to be driver of her narrative either. Fans want to see her in control - a victor, not victim, who commands her fate. She is this fable's hero, and there is simply no value in turning her into Randle McMurphy. It gets old awfully fast -  honestly, almost as old as Dana's story now is (which I initially liked; not so much anymore.)  

The double-agent-double-agent gambit isn't the worst way to solve this problem, it seems to me. Are there other ways? Sure - gimme a day, and maybe I can come up with some, but given what "Homeland" does, and what this story line potentially promises, I think the risks outweigh the considerable negatives.

Were fans fooled? Sure, but that seems hardly the worst offense here - the greater one being an offense against logic.   But at least the show has shed the shackles that threatened to tie it down, and in a way, already have. Things need to happen on this show and happen fast - notably, the realignment of the Brody/Carrie stars. That potential plot twist alone promises extravagant lunacy that will make the twist child's play by comparison.

 So, yes: I'm going with "c."

Tags: Carrie Mathison , Claire Danes , Mandy Patinkin , Homeland , Alex Gansa , third season , Verne Gay

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