Six Best Quotes From This Week’s Homeland
Another cracking episode with nary a Brody family member to be spotted. [spoilers]
Welcome to our Homeland recaps. This week’s episode was ‘Gerontion’. Spoilers and badass quotables follow.
1. “I’m your case officer now.”
With Javadi now in custody thanks to the machinations of Saul and Carrie, ‘Gerontion’ focused on the elements that make Homeland such a potentially exceptional series. In lasering in on the cut and thrust of international espionage — with nary a Brody family member to be spotted — ‘Gerontion’ threw out the extraneous bullshit that’s dogged this season, and got down to the business of head-kicking spy games.
The finest aspect of that is the relationship between TV’s greatest beard Saul Berenson and terrorist accountant Majid Javadi. Granted, ‘terrorist accountant’ might not sound like your run-of-the-mill evil villain, but c’mon, this dude just took to his ex-wife with a broken bottle like he was a brickie having a blue with the bouncers at the Chelsea Heights Hotel.
In his efforts to blackmail Javadi, Saul chips at his cocksure facade, revealing his intention to turn him into a CIA informant… in Iran’s government. THIS is what Homeland’s bread and butter should be — no Dana Brody moping about, no Jessica Brody getting teary at the drop of the hat, just people who live their lives in the grey margins of accepted society trying to outsmart each other.
Equal in its impact was the way Saul’s face blanched after Javadi casually admitted that, when it came to the killing of his ex-wife, “I should’ve stoned her to death, but… you didn’t give me enough time”. It showed just how much Javadi is able to get at Saul, a furthering of the terrific conflict and tension between the two. Homeland‘s lacked this this season: charged moments with actual stakes and repercussions for the characters. The way Saul and Javadi interact? It’s realistic, it has weight, and it makes for intense viewing.
2. “It’s the curse of old men to realise that, in the end, we control nothing.”
A big fuss was made last week regarding control, and it was vindicated across this episode, named for the T.S. Eliot poem that examines a man out of time and what he learns about the paucity of control, influence, and the repercussions of actions.
Saul is that man. His life is wrapped up in his work, to the point that his wife left him to work in Mumbai (and hook up with a hot French guy). Capturing Javadi and turning him against the Iranian government is his way of finally exerting some sort of control on the intelligence struggle, the “you hit us and we hit you”, tit-for-tat status quo that typifies the USA’s relationship with the Middle East (and a lot of the rest of the world).
His attempts to control parts of his life, though, compromise others — his wife Mira is cheating on him, and Senator Lockhart is going to kick his arse to the curb as soon as he can — but for now, he’s trying to make his efforts and his life’s work worthwhile. It’s also a salient point being made by Homeland’s writers: if the people who are running the world could see their decisions out of context, from a century in the future… What would they do? What would any of us do? (You know, beyond buying a hoverboard and having sex with a robot, of course.)
3. “I’m just trying to understand the shit that you people do. The shit that we’re party to as we pay taxes. This… shit.”
The CIA’s response is tackled directly when Quinn, who’s quickly become one of the show’s best characters, is forced to turn himself in to police and erroneously claim responsibility for the deaths of Javadi’s ex-wife and daughter-in-law. The interviewing detective (perfectly portrayed by Clark Johnson, who actually directed two of this season’s episodes, ‘Tower of David’ and ‘The Yoga Play’) makes us focus on the cost of this human intelligence game that is expounded by Saul, the cost not just reflected by the corpses on the ground, but also in Quinn, who now only answers the door in towels.
He’s the badass assassin who has developed a conscience, but it’s also a pointed remark by Homeland’s creators about the role these intelligence agencies play in our lives; when they intersect with ‘normal’ people, those normal people often end up dead. The telling moment comes in Quinn’s exchange with Carrie, saying “What do they say? Confession is good for the soul?”, and that he’s had it with the way the agency do things.
4. “He’s the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, not some civilian fuck monkey.”
That non-civilian fuck monkey, Senator Lockhart, is the guy who desperately wants to change the way the agency does things. He’s finally gotten Saul into a room, and when he demands answers, he explains just how he sees the agency doing things in the future. Lockhart, you see, is a cartoon jerk, who is against the “human intelligence nonsense that led to disaster right here in this building not four months ago… Believing that our sworn enemies will magically switch sides… We talked about this, the need to wean you off your Cold War bullshit.”
While he does have a point — you can see the political motivations and advantages of having clear-cut and defined parameters in using drone strikes and their ilk — the way Lockhart has been written is another thing altogether. Instead of a thoughtful, considered political opponent for Saul, Lockhart has been pushed into cartoon-villain land, too often railing against Saul because, well, he’s Saul, and he can’t be seen to agree with Saul. It’s another one of Homeland’s undercooked characterisations (similar to former CIA chief, David Estes), and it comes off hollow.
5. “We agreed to disagree.”
Still, that doesn’t stop the back-and-forth argument between Lockhart and Saul from being terrific (with Dar Adal looking on like a weirdly bearded referee). Lockhart wants to “fry Javadi’s ass publicly”; Saul calls him “shortsighted”; “It’s justice,” replies Lockhart; “It’s ineffective,” states Saul. Somehow, Homeland‘s found its sense of humour! The moment when Saul locked Lockhart (ha) in the CIA boardroom, then blacked him out, cutting him off mid-threat, was priceless, as was Lockhart’s bewildered ‘What the fuck?’.
6. “Brody escaped the blast. Did he know it was coming?”
There, we almost had it. But after essentially proving the show barely needs Nicholas Brody or even the spectre of Brody to be riveting, the writers moved our thoughts from the exciting present and future back to the end of the previous season, and Javadi gave Carrie reason to hope that Brody was innocent of the Langley bombing. Yawn!
Look, it’s a dirty little secret that Homeland works better without Brody. Replace him with Quinn as Carrie’s love interest, cut ties with the whole Brody family, and you’ve got a whip-smart spy thriller. Future seasons can see them deal with different types of terrorist antagonists (why not domestic and international?), without having to unwieldily cram some bullshit family soap opera into the mix.
Carrie’s storyline (now that she does’t have to be crazy, manic Carrie 24/7) is going nicely, but you fear that the re-introduction of Brody into her life will send the character back into a tedious spin. The pregnancy sub-plot from the previous episode was alluded to with the hurl party she threw in the bathroom, so you can only hope that Homeland can keep the good Carrie momentum rolling as she searches for the real person responsible for the Langley bombing… and her red-headed white whale.
‘Homeland: What’s Their Mental State Like?’ big board
Carrie: Spewing into a toilet, and regretting every redhead she ever slept with. Her love affair with looking into mirrors continues unabated, though.
Saul: Hoping his beard hides his smugness.
Mira: Feeling a smidge guilty.
Dar Adal: Confident that no matter what happens, he’s gonna get his waffles on Tuesday.
Senator Lockhart: Feeling pretty pleased with that ‘clown act’ line.
Fara: Feeling stabby, and weirded out by being new to the job and interrogating terrorists.
Quinn: Never going to answer the door not in a towel.
Catch-up on the latest episode of Homeland on Ten Play.
Jaymz is a New York-based writer (originally from Melbourne, and the former Editor of triple j magazine), super-yacht enthusiast, hi-tech jewel thief and Bengal tiger trainer. He enjoys wearing monocles, finely spiced rum, constructing pillow forts, and zip-lining from Hong Kong skyscrapers. You can find him on twitter via @jaymzclements
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