SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "Game On" episode of "Homeland" contains storyline and character spoilers.
A quick summary of "Game On": no Brody, a lot of Dana, and a twist that finally brings some hope for Carrie.
It's been a rough season for Carrie Mathison so far, and she's hitting a new level of hopelessness when we catch up with her this week. She's still in the psych ward, at night, when she hears the cries of a fellow patient. Carrie steps out of her room and follows the cries down the hall, where she peeks in at another woman, who's being restrained by several employees and shot up with drugs. Carrie's spotted and runs back to her room and jumps into bed, where an orderly comes in and demands that her door be kept open.
The next day, she's frantically preparing for a hearing which should send her packing for home. It's clear after what she witnessed the night before, she's barely hanging on, but her attorney assures her everything's looking good, that her dad and sister are scheduled to appear on her behalf at the hearing, and that she should be checking out that day. But as she and her lawyer are walking into the meeting, Carrie spots Dar Adal slipping out of the hospital.
For those with very strong, negative feelings about Dana Brody, well, your cup of haterade must have runneth over by the end of "Game On," as she stole her mom's car, broke her boyfriend Leo out of the psych ward, traded her mom's car for another (lesser) car so she and Leo could evade their parents' custody for as long as possible, and made two very angsty pit stops.
First, there was a boozy break at the cemetery where Leo shared his grief over the death of his twin and, in a revelation that would turn out to be more important later, told Dana he feels responsible for his brother's death, since he's the older sibling.
Next, their road trip — which also included sharing pot along the way — took them to the military base where Brody had originally deployed to Iraq when Dana was eight years old. She tells Leo the significance of the spot. It's the place "where [Brody] said the last true thing he ever said to me… 'Goodbye,'" she says. "Everything after that was a lie."
Jessica Brody has not always been the most sympathetic of characters, either, but Dana's latest move really illuminates the complete mess Brody left his family in. Jessica is called to the facility where Dana and Leo met, the one from which she sprang him, and is confronted by his angry parents. Mike, good ol' dependable Mike, is at Jessica's side, but that doesn't make it sting any less when Leo's parents tell her they know who Dana is, and they consider her to be the bad influence in this situation.
Later, sitting in the Brody kitchen (where Jessica makes an aside that she should have allowed Mike to move in, like he wanted), Mike says Dana's behavior is the result of a broken heart, courtesy of her papa. Jessica agrees. "I could kill him, Mike… I swear to God, I could," she says.
And Mike delivers more bad news later. Using his connections to scope out more info on Leo, he tells Jess that Leo is only in the psych hospital because his parents cut a deal so he would avoid a homicide charge. It seems he got a hold of his father's gun, and though Mike says there was talk of a double suicide, only Leo's twin ended up dead. So when Leo told Dana he feels guilty about his brother's death, he might have been referring to more than she realized.
No Way Out
Carrie's family failed to show up at her hearing, but her fate was already sealed anyway; Dar Adal, on Saul's orders, had dropped off a document that claimed Carrie is a threat to national security, and the judge ordered her to remain in the psych unit. Dejected, she returns to her room with no hope of being released, and is greeted by a nurse who dispenses more drugs and informs her that her nails will have to be cut soon. She's not even in charge of her personal hygiene anymore.
But just as quickly as her hope was taken away, she's told there's been an emergency decree that she be released. Carrie assumes it's the work of her attorney, until she returns to her townhouse and finds Paul Franklin, the attorney who visited her last week (the one she assumed was working on behalf of terrorists), sitting in her living room. He tells her it was his form who got her out — for a 24-hour furlough — and unless she agrees to meet with his boss the next morning, she'll be right back in lock-up in less than a day.
Carrie agrees, but then goes into escape mode. She packs a bag and heads to her car, only to find it's been impounded. She goes to withdraw cash from an ATM, only to find out her accounts have been frozen. Her credit cards have also been canceled. And when she calls her old pal Virgil to borrow his van, he agrees and then gives her an odd message that alerts her to the fact that their conversation was being monitored. Ever resourceful, Carrie gets shelter and some quick cash by showing up at the apartment of her one-night-stand from the liquor store from earlier this season, but when she sneaks out the next morning, Franklin is waiting for her, to take her to the meeting with his boss.
Carrie's meeting is with the Bennett of Bennett, Parr and Hamilton, a law firm that represents Middle Eastern countries who, he tells her, want to put her on retainer and "pick her brain" about the inner workings of the CIA. She refuses, saying she won't be a traitor to her country, and Bennett launches into a spiel about how what the U.S. government does and what foreign terrorists do are the same thing. When that doesn't move Carrie, he tells her the people she continues to protect are out to destroy her, by making her, and her illness and her relationship with Brody, the story. "I'm not a traitor," she says. "No, what you are is a liability, to a lot of people who've got a lot to lose," Bennett says.
He tells her they're going to drive her to suicide, and if that doesn't work, they'll just kill her themselves and make it look like suicide. "Let us help you, Carrie," he says. "We're very good at it," he continues, promising he will keep her out of the hospital and make sure she's "compensated handsomely." Carrie tentatively agrees to work with him, saying she won't share the names of field ops, and she'll only meet with Bennett's client, and only in person. "Maybe you two can find some common ground, and put the world right," Bennett tells her. "Save us all." Her response: "F--k you." And then Carrie's dropped off in a crowded area, with an envelope full of cash, and another round of bad news: She's also been put on the TSA's no-fly list, and her passport has been revoked, lest she think about skipping the country.
Saul is sitting on his back porch at night when he gets a surprise visitor. It's Carrie. He tells her she shouldn't be there, and she tells him she wasn't followed. She's sure, because she took every precaution to avoid being tailed, making her trip there five hours long.
When Saul's wife leaves them alone on the porch, a worn-out Carrie tells him, "It worked, Saul. They picked me up this morning."
Saul: "Who did?"
"A man named Franklin. They took me to a house in the Potomac, where I met with Leland Bennett… he said his client recently lost six business associates, and would like to know how those men were identified and targeted."
Saul: "Javadi… did you hold out for a meeting in person?"
Carrie: "I did it just the way you said. I told him the meeting had to be face-to-face."
"You're an amazing person, Carrie Mathison. Amazing," a gleeful Saul tells her. She shakes her head no, and he continues, "You've been very, very brave."
"You should have gotten me out of the hospital, Saul, you shouldn't have left me there," Carrie says, crying and falling into Saul's arms. "I can't keep going."
Saul: "Yes, you can."
* Who else thinks there's a whole lot more to Fara, that analyst who's helping Saul unravel the complicated money trail behind the man who ordered the attack at Langley? They've already figured out the man behind the attack is using an alias and has embezzled $45 million from the people who are bankrolling his terrorist ventures, but since no one or nothing is ever quite as it appears on "Homeland," Fara seems a likely candidate to provide a major surprise somewhere down the road. And, especially in light of Saul's continuing weirdness with his marriage, could a Saul/Fara romance pop up this season?
* Whether it was coincidence or intentional, nice touch on the scene in which Paul Franklin drops Carrie off after her meeting with Bennett, and the restaurant in the background is called Rock Bottom. At that point, it seemed like an apt description. The eatery is part of a real restaurant chain, by the way.
* The poem Dana shared with Leo at the cemetery: Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.