Homeland: Season 3 (2013)
11th September 2014
The wait is over. After being gripped, and intrigued by Brody's troubled double-agent life, Season Two came to an explosive end with Brody being framed by terrorist Abu Nazir in connection to a bombing at CIA headquarters which left 219 dead - including the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Convinced that Brody was innocent, Carrie helped him flee to Canada and promised to help clear his name.
Season Three starts in the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attack - Saul is now Acting Director of the CIA and Carrie has been publicly reprimanded during Senator Lockhart grilling of Saul in front of the Senate Committee. Now that her intimate relationship with Brody and her bipolar disorder are known, Carrie is seen as a potential weak link at the agency and she becomes the scapegoat for the failings of the organisation. Suspected of helping Brody carry out the attack, she is placed in a psychiatric ward where mental health professionals can keep an eye on her and ensure that she continues to take her medication. But, as is the case for most things involving Carrie and her long-time mentor Saul, things don't always look like they first appear...
Needless to say, Brody is enemy number one and the CIA, and pretty much every other department in the American government, have made it their number one goal to track him down and bring him home to face justice. Brody himself is in hiding in Caracas and is effectively being held prisoner by a Venezuelan drug gang who have taken him in and made him one of their own - along with giving him an addiction to drugs which more or less leaves him in a near permanent state of unconsciousness.
As for Brody's family, with his suicide video revealed to the national, they are left shunned by the their friends and the military have disowned the family - leaving the family close to ruins with very little money coming in. It's greatly affected Dana and she's currently in rehab after attempting to commit suicide by slashing her wrists. It's all money which Jessica Brody can ill afford to spend.
As for Brody's family, stuck dealing with the aftermath of his disappearance and his suicide video revealed to the national, Jessica is left shunned by the their friends and the military have disowned the family - leaving the family close to ruins with very little money coming in. Hounded day and night by reporters and the FBI, it's greatly affected Dana and she's currently in rehab after attempting to commit suicide by slashing her wrists. It's all money which Jessica can ill afford to spend.
But Brody's predicament soon changes upon Saul's arrival who, rather surprised at the state of Brody after he'd placed him in the care of the Venezuelan drug gang, takes him back to American to a secret CIA safe house. It's there where Brody begins his "cold turkey" and rehabilitation before being recruited and trained for a dangerous mission to Iran with orders to, by using his worldwide notoriety, get close to the current head of the Revolutionary Guard, assassinate him and allow an American ally to take his place.
But, along with Carrie's current predicament, on the outside, things don't always look like they first appear and there's some massive revelations and plot twists to be revealed. But one thing is for certain - both Nicholas Brody's and Carrie Mathison's lives are going to be changing forever, and it's not always going to be for the best...
Whilst I was spoilt by the wonderful quality of the transfer on the previous season on Blu-ray, the many locations throughout season three on the DVD manage to reproduce a picture which is bright and colourful with a high level of detail and a fairly average bit-rate throughout. Never the less, the picture could be a little too soft and grainy at times which was then exacerbated by some rather high contrast levels in some exterior scenes (although, given the many hot and sunny Middle Eastern locations, it's not hard to expect a few bright locations!).
The Dolby Digital 5.1 448 Kbps soundtrack is available in English, French and Castellano. Whilst season three doesn't offer the same dramatic sound stage as previous seasons, the dialogue still manages to be crisp and clear whilst the front stereo channels offer some reasonable stereo steerage. Although there is some reasonable use of the surround channels, it usually ended up just being musical score and ambient effect. Never the less, it does it all needs to do.
The menus are animated in a pretty basic manner and accompanied by the jazzy theme tune. Sub-menus are static and silent affairs. Whilst not really an extra, each episode on the disc is accompanied by a useful textual synopsis along with offering subtitles in various languages.
The Special Features are spread over the four discs with the Homeland Season Three: Re-creating the Tower of David featurette and a Deleted Scene on the first disc. Whilst the two minute Deleted Scene does offer a little more insight into Peter Quinn's frame of mind, you can see why it was trimmed for timing purposes. However, the seven minute Tower of David featurette is far more interesting. Presented by Executive Producer Michael Klick, Writer/Executive Producer Chip Johannessen and Director Clark Johnson, as it looks into the background of the actual abandoned building started by banker David Brillembourg in the early 90s in Caracas, it's 2500 squatters along with the programme's substitute filming location of San Juan in Puerto Rico (and yet another abandoned tower block in mid-construction!).
The second and third discs also includes five minutes and three minutes worth of Deleted Scenes. Again, they were all probably trimmed for timing purposes and they add very little, or no, real value to the episodes they were removed from.
The final disc saves the best until last with the twelve minute The Last Days: Filming the Season Finale featurette. With Morocco taking the place of Iran, the main cast members and crew are on hand to discuss the final two episodes of season. Again, it's great to see the attention to detail in the buildings, religious posters and even the beards and you'd be hard pressed not to believe it's Tehran. However, if you've not seen any or all of this season then definitely don't watch this featurette until you've finished watching the entire season otherwise you're in for some major plot spoilers!
Again the fourth disc contains a number of Deleted Scenes, this time running a shade under three minutes. Apart from the final scene with Carrie (don't worry, I won't give anything away!) there's very little of value, but at least there's a fair offering of the cutting room floor spread across the four discs in the collection (I assume the Blu-ray will have them on a single disc).
The final extra is the 192 Kbps Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Commentary by Damien Lewis, Alex Gansa and Joe Hobeck for the final episode in season three - The Star. Whilst it starts off pretty slow, and there are plenty of silent scenes throughout the episode, once the trio get going they reveal plenty of information about the episode, the various scenes, the props and the series in general. It's a great way to round off a great series.
I don't know what other commitments Damian Lewis had during this season, but his Nicholas Brody character was absent for large parts of the season. I can only assume has absence was deliberate (as some of the extras appear to imply), but the extended and rather tedious Dana Brody sub-plot didn't half make retaining your interest in the show a real hard slog at times. Still, I'm being rather unfair to the writers really, as I'm sure after the revelations they've had to endure, any family would be in a bit of turmoil - especially after Brody's spectacular fall from grace and potential presidential running mate to public enemy number one.
I'm really torn between loving and hating this series. Whilst the previous two seasons had me totally gripped, there's no doubting that season three was a bit of a let-down. The pace was so much slower that you even had the time to stop and mull over proceedings - which is a far cry from the breathless pace of the previous seasons that had you trying to guess every move.
However, slow pace or not, the writers have managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat as I simply can't wait for the fourth season to appear on our screens. With new story lines, and yet more terrorists to be defeated, you could almost say it's a brand new story and, as long as the audience sticks with it, something that could keep on developing for a number of seasons yet. I just hope the sullen Dana Brody doesn't decide to take a gap year and pay Carrie a visit!
- Homeland Season Three: Re-creating the Tower of David
- The Last Days: Filming the Season Finale
- The Star: Audio Commentary by Damien Lewis, Alex Gansa and Joe Hobeck
- Deleted scenes