Showtime’s CIA cat-and-mouse thriller starts its third season at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Catch up with season two this weekend during a marathon of all 12 episodes back-to-back, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday.
No time to binge? This should help bring you up to speed:
WHAT TIME IS IT?
Season three picks up 58 days after the explosion at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. More than 200 people died in the blast, which has been dubbed America’s “Second 9/11.” Congress is none too pleased with the agency, which is fighting for its very survival.
“The CIA itself is on trial,” showrunner Alex Gansa told TV critics as their summer press tour. “That is an agency that couldn’t even protect itself. How should it be expected to protect the country? Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is confronted with that very question in the first episode. Saul finds himself in a very unique and different position than he’s ever been in before, that is he is sitting in the director’s chair. He’s been quite comfortable on the sidelines for the last 20 years criticizing, making suggestions. All of a sudden, he finds himself now having to make the decisions. And with the actual existence of the CIA in question, he has to make some very uncharacteristic choices that he’s not comfortable making.”
HOW’S CARRIE HOLDING UP?
While last season started with a serene, medicated Carrie tending to her garden, this one does not. She’s off her meds (but exercising vigorously, just ask her), getting grilled by Congress and feeling like she has no one in her corner. Not even Saul.
Carrie (Claire Danes) isn’t in her happy place.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS BRODY?
Not in the first two episodes that critics received for review. The country’s most wanted fugitive remains on the lam at the season’s start.
Brody (Damian Lewis) eventually resurfaces this season.
“It’s a function of the story that we don’t see Brody,” said Damian Lewis, the actor who plays the fallen hero. “He’s disappeared into a network of a tunnel system, an exfiltration procedure which Carrie has affected, and he’s the most wanted criminal in the world, arguably, at this point. He has to lay low. When you do see Brody … what state will he be in? Is he swanning around a yacht off the Côte d’Azure, surrounded by a bevy of Russian beauties? That was the pitch I plugged in. Or is he hidden away securely somewhere? Or is he lost? I hope that when you do see Brody for the first time, it will be it will be interesting.”
WHAT ABOUT BRODY’S FAMILY?
They’re back — especially Dana. This worries me because I’ve always felt that Dana-centric storylines grind the show to a halt, much like Kim did in “24,” another show whose pedigree includes the co-creators of “Homeland.” This season starts with a lot of Dana. I have no quibble with the talented actress who plays her (Morgan Saylor). My quibble is with the writers who over-estimate the audience’s interest in her. Let’s hope it’s a fleeting fancy and the plot quickly moves on.
Dana (Morgan Saylor) is back. A lot.
ANY NEW FACES?
One of the first ones we see is Steppenwolf Theatre veteran Amy Morton (“Boss”), who steps up as Carrie’s lawyer. She has the unpleasant task of protecting her client from the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, played by Pulitzer Prize recipient and Tony Award-winning actor Tracy Letts (the only person on the planet to have that distinct combo of bragging rights). Nazanin Boniadi (“How I Met Your Mother”) portrays Fara, a rookie CIA analyst who’s Muslim.
Fara (Nazanin Boniadi is a new addition this season.
Shaun Toub (“The Kite Runner”) comes aboard later in the season as Majid Javadi, a member of the Iranian intelligence service whom Saul knew way back when in Iran. Interesting tidbit:
* The late writer Henry Bromell won a posthumous Emmy Sunday for his work penning last season’s stellar episode, “Q & A,” in which Carrie interrogates Brody, who in turn crumbles. Bromell’s son, Will, came in this season to finish his father’s script for the third episode.