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WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Season Three, Episode Seven, “Gerontion”

Welcome to the Saul Show.

Nothing good can happen in a Langley conference room. Photograph by Kent Smith for Showtime.

All year I’ve been (somewhat unfairly, perhaps) comparing Homeland to Breaking Bad in a gazillion conversations about What the Hell is Wrong With Homeland, and how each new episode is a reminder that, unlike BB, no one working on this show seems to have any idea of what’s happening or where it’s going. In some ways this week’s episode, “Gerontion,” tackles the criticism the show’s been shrugging off since season two. Dana’s gone, Carrie’s a supporting player at best, and the show is finally all about Saul, the one character who’s managed to preserve his gravitas while others were descending into utter looniness. Oh, and there was a prolonged scene with a shirtless Peter Quinn, for which I personally am most grateful.

But then they went and named it “Gerontion” after a T.S. Eliot poem, presumably because “Ozymandias” was taken. You can read “Gerontion” here if you like; I’m assuming the old man looking back at a past now rendered archaic is Saul confronting his status as a relic of the CIA’s glory days and mourning the end of his marriage, but I haven’t spent that much time analyzing it because I’m still agog over Carrie’s idiotic pregnancy development (and shirtless Peter Quinn, let’s be honest). Although there’s also the line, “I have not made this show purposelessly,” which could be interpreted uncharitably as Alex Gansa’s cry for help.

Anyway, “Gerontion.” Not a bad episode, if no “Ozymandias.” Clark Johnson, a.k.a. The Wire’s Gus Haynes, a.k.a. the director behind last week’s “Yoga Play” and the trippy “Tower of David” episode, popped up uncredited as a detective giving Quinn a hard time for stabbing a woman in the neck with a bottle (PQ, of course, didn’t do it, but for reasons I can’t fathom he had to confess to Javadi’s crime so the fearsome Bethesda police would agree to leave the investigation to the CIA after Quinn was photographed outside the house by a neighbor’s security camera). While we’re on the subject, why do so many people owe favors to Carrie Mathison? Have we ever seen Carrie do anything useful for anyone, ever, that wasn’t entirely clandestine and unappreciated? And yet she has fleets of people in Canada, Caracas, and now Bethesda just falling over themselves to do her a solid.

At the CIA’s safe house, Javadi and Fara had a fevered conversation without subtitles because Homeland hates subtitles this season because it’s all one big allusion to how scattered and hard to interpret the war on terror is (that, or closed-captioning wasn’t in the budget). Javadi sneered at the idea that Saul was trying to make him feel bad for being “brought down by a girl.” Carrie told Fara that Javadi was just trying to manipulate her and that she shouldn’t let him get to her—advice Carrie later flagrantly ignored when she let Javadi twist her into knots by mentioning Brody.

Javadi assumed that Saul wanted to pump him for information about the state of the Iranian nuclear program (given today’s news, Homeland is sadly behind the times for once), and was looking forward to a cushy retirement in Miami surrounded by plum wine and strippers. But that wily Saul had other ideas, namely sending Javadi back to Iran as an asset where he’d either pass information back to the Americans or be shopped to his own people as a traitor and tortured/executed. Javadi didn’t love this idea, but no one really cared given his medieval statements about his adulterous wife. And Saul, ever the cockeyed optimist, seemed to actually be hopeful that sending a lying, stealing, murdering terrorist back to the regime from whence he came might usher in a new age of global peace and an end to the “you hit us, we hit you” age of terror. Oh, Saul. For once, I’m on Lockhart’s side.

Saul took a minute in the lovely twilight to call Mera, who was lying in a bed with Alain Bernard, postcoitally, showing a TON of cleavage in her négligée. “I said I didn’t care about your friend from Mumbai, but I do,” he said quietly, while Mera swatted away Alain’s grabby French hands and tried not to look guilty. Also showing a lot of cleavage: Peter Quinn, as he scrubbed off Javadi’s wife’s blood in the shower before being verbally berated by Dar Adal, who was feeling neglected. “I had to keep the circle small,” explained Saul later, before making up for everything by enlisting Dar’s help to lock the bombastic and irate Lockhart in a Langley conference room (this was actually the coolest thing that has happened all season, and Tracy Letts’ “What the f*ck?” was perfect).

Was it really worth it, though? Saul and Dar Adal succeeded in royally pissing off their new boss, a man who wants to fire everyone in the CIA and replace them with bomb-throwing robots. Will there be enough to gain from Javadi’s intelligence in the two weeks before Lockhart takes over? Isn’t Javadi wily enough to make his escape somehow? He probably could have been if he wasn’t so busy taunting Carrie with such pathetically transparent reverse psychology even a pre-schooler could have seen through it. (“Fine, I guess you don’t WANT the truth.”)

Carrie eventually gave in, because Carrie has no impulse control whatsoever, because she’s a hormonal, knocked-up thirtysomething with severe mental health problems who for some inexplicable reason is STILL in the employ of the CIA. Anyway, she ran after Javadi, and he told her that the man who built the Langley bomb and set it off didn’t die in the explosion (and maybe isn’t named Brody). Bennett, the shady lawyer from episodes ago, knows who he is, and Javadi is giving him up because he’s pretty mad about the fact that Bennett helped get him collared by the Americans. So now Carrie’s going full-throttle after him, and she wants Peter Quinn to help her. And Quinn, who’s quitting the CIA after Detective Clark Johnson told him that all they ever do is make things worse, is on board.

Some thoughts:

This is the Saul Show now, which is what some people have been hoping for all along (me, I’d rather have the Peter Quinn Shower Show). Mandy Patinkin is inarguably fantastic, but  is he enough to carry us through season three and into season four? His marital woes are already boring, and when Lockhart ships him off to Guantanano in two weeks’ time I can’t imagine things will get much better. Plus, who would you rather make out with: dishy Alain or the man with the Brillo Pad beard?
No mention of Carrie’s pregnancy this week, apart from the fact that she puked when she saw corpses in the Bethesda house. Carrie was actually pretty quiet this week, which was nice.
Are Peter Quinn and Carrie going to spend the remainder of the season trying to clear Brody’s name? My feelings about this are the same as my feelings about the Carrie Underwood Sound of Music: dark, tormented, and full of foreboding about the possible horrors ahead.
No Brodys in this episode, hallelujah.
I liked the way Fara grabbed the scissors when Javadi was being ushered out. Given the track record people in the CIA have when it comes to sharp pointy things and suspected, I half expected her to gouge his eyes out, but she didn’t. Go, Fara.

What did you think of tonight’s Homeland? Let us know in the comments.