After a mostly averse critical reaction to last week’s “Game On,” Homeland returns this week with a more recognizable entry in the series that looks and feels like it could have come from the earlier version of this series that viewers enjoyed for the first season and a half. There is the traditional espionage sequence – the Yoga Play that gives the episode its title – accompanying some smoke and mirrors fare surrounding our big bad (Javadi). Even though those familiar Homeland trappings are there, though, they mostly fall short because of how well the series has done this kind of stuff in the past.
With the return of Brody to Homeland, there’s a lot at stake without even addressing how effective his incorporation into “Tower of David” is. If you look elsewhere on TV, you’ll find another series that begins its new season dealing with the temporary absence of an important character – The Governor on The Walking Dead. In both circumstances, these characters were used well last year at certain points, but were also used rather poorly at other points, culminating in season finale departures that raised a lot of questions (such as “Do we buy into this whole Carrie/Brody relationship?” and “Is Brody even a necessary part of this series? Are any of the Brody family members?” and “Is there any point in letting the The Governor live?” and “Was there a point in building up all that conflict between Woodbury and the prison if it was going to remain unresolved?”).
Homicide: Life on the Street was created as a show about “thinking cops” with actors who didn’t fit the typical mold for network TV. They were overweight, balding, and dressed like real cops. The landmark television series was highly influential and set the stage for captivating shows like The Wire and The Shield. By the time it reached its seventh season, Homicide had changed dramatically from its original format. The basic model of investigating murders remained, but the cast was younger and prettier. Even so, original cast members Clark Johnson (Lewis), Kyle Secor (Bayliss), Yaphet Kotto (Giardello), and Richard Belzer (Munch) kept it from feeling too much like a departure. The final season was its most inconsistent and had low points that you wouldn’t expect. The killings were more sensational, and action scenes became more commonplace.