Checking in on the third seasons of our favorite prestige TV dramas set in DC whose main characters are both high-powered, well-dressed, hyper-competent professional women who make questionable relationship choices while simultaneously saving the world. This week: “Game On” vs. “Say Hello to My Little Friend.” Caution: spoilers.
Both shows reverted to cliché this week with their episode titles. Homeland chose “Game On,” which is either stolen from or an homage to the original—and, for its first four seasons, best—prestige drama set in DC, The West Wing. Let us be charitable and say “homage.”
Scandal went with an obvious dick joke. But, as we know, everyone likes dick jokes.
Liv: Precarious. For the sake of the firm’s finances, she takes on a new client—a smarmy senator who may or may not have killed a lady to whom he had been sending pictures of his johnson. The case has nothing to do with the sordid love triangle of her, Fitz, and the United States of America, and everything to do with what made this show such potboilery fun in Season 1. That’s good! She then casts out sexy super spy Jake and seems to be in deep denial about her father Rowan, aka “Command,” and the fact that he, according to Jake, “would slit [her] throat and drink [her] blood if it would help the republic.” That’s bad. Although it would be worse if Command were an actual vampire, right? Because then the show would be True Blood and we would all stop watching.
Carrie: Even more precarious. Just when the hospital hands her a plaque to hang that says, “Don’t forget, you’re here forever,” she gets out. That’s good! She is then hounded by the guys that sprung her, who want her to help them spy for Iran and who seem to be the only friends she has in the world. That’s bad.
Liv: Damaged. She has to listen to some smug talking head say that she once used to be somebody. Ouch. Presumably she earns some cred back once she wins her case.
Carrie: Bad enough that terrorists think they can win her over with a few kind words. On the plus side, we learn that there will always be someone to take her booty calls.
Liv: Clearing an “innocent” man and sending him, bad judgment and all, back to Congress where he belongs. In the process, she accidentally ensures that a murderer—shocker! the man’s wife—will also go free. I would call that a wash.
Carrie: Reuniting with Saul!!
Scandal: The delightfully wacky Lisa Kudrow, who is ostensibly as a potential Democratic presidential contender but who functions at first as yet another savvy femme foil for Mellie. Poor Mellie—you can tell that she, like Maureen Dowd, yearns for the days when she would be the only woman in a room worth taking seriously.
Homeland: The delightfully sexy-evil Peter from the early seasons of Weeds—which, if you haven’t watched them, then why are you wasting time looking at pictures of racist Halloween costumes on Gawker? Mary-Louise Parker! Justin Kirk! Pre-Orange is the New Black Jenji Kohan! Binge-watch now, thank me later.
Scandal: Jake and Liv start making the magic happen, until they are cock-blocked by a phone call from POTUS. Still: progress!
Homeland: Quinn = AWOL.
Scandal: Fitz throws a surprise funeral for the veteran that Command had Huck kill in the last episode. The veteran knew something important about the very boring but apparently very important “Operation Remington,” in which Fitz was involved back during his war days, so it seems odd that Fitz tells the vet’s sister that he never knew the man personally. Still: he is neither fulfilling Liv’s erotic fantasies nor leading the country, so he may as well be AWOL.
Homeland: Brody = actually AWOL. Where is everyone this episode? Is there a big Dillon Panthers game no one told the rest of us about?
Advantage: Scandal, barely
Both episodes are treading well-worn ground at this point. Scandal’s reveals—the senator isn’t guilty, but his wife is! Quinn has an unhealthy interest in Huck’s tormented relationship with murder!—are pretty pro forma. Abby and David Rosen get some cute moments, though, and it is fun to see super spies Huck and Jake team up. It harkens back to one of the show’s best episodes, “Spies Like Us,” where the B-613 Dream Team reunites to discover who among them has turned traitor.
Homeland’s reveal is that, unbeknownst to CIA heads and terrorists alike, Carrie and Saul have been in cahoots for a while. In other words, yet another wolf has proven to be a sheep in wolf’s clothing, or something. (Do yourself a favor and check out the Sesame Street parody, Homelamb, which captures the essence of the show’s enjoyable absurdity.)
Some critics are crying foul, as though the very fabric of Homeland isn’t switcheroos and psych-outs. OK, fine, this latest twist doesn’t make a lot of sense. Still, wouldn’t you rather have Saul and Carrie back together than keep watching Dana take the saddest joyrides ever with her teenage boyfriend? Gimme more Saul and Carrie, Homeland, and all is forgiven.
Previously: Episode 3
Ester Bloom is a known heroine addict based in Brooklyn. Follow her @shorterstory.