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TV Review

‘Homeland’ outlandish but good

Showtime’s “Homeland” (9 p.m. Sunday) returns for its third season after a second season that, while exciting at times, also diminished the show.

In its first year, there was a realism to the cat-and-mouse game at the heart of “Homeland,” but in Season 2, the show’s writers fell in love with the idea of Carrie (Claire Danes) being in love with Brody (Damian Lewis), an uncomfortable course change for a series sold as a terrorism drama.

Brody is absent at the start of the new season, but he’ll be back at some point, most likely in Episode 3. Mostly the focus is on Carrie, who is off her meds and acting all paranoid-nutty again; Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who chafes under the responsibility of rebuilding the CIA following the season-finale bombing; and Brody’s daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor.

There are some tense moments in Sunday’s premiere as Carrie testifies before an antagonistic U.S. Senate subcommittee, whose leader questions, “How can the CIA be expected to protect this country if it can’t protect itself?”

There’s also internal strife between Saul and Carrie that’s far more interesting than any of the stories involving Brody’s family.

Sure, it’s all more outlandish than the show was in its more restrained, more believable first season, but it’s still the best TV thriller airing today.