Fist-Bump Ranking Last Night's 'Homeland': Bye Bye Blackbird
In T. S. Eliot’s Gerontion, an elderly man contemplates the changing world and like Saul Berenson, struggles to find relevance in his life’s work. This seventh episode, titled after the poem, draws upon similar themes of a changing landscape; the way the Central Intelligence Agency has been handling its affairs doesn’t seem to be working out for anyone. Quinn has come to an internal line in the sand, and he can no longer see anything but the darkness of what his agency represents. Senator Lockhart wants to completely turn away from the agency’s methodology, and though he’s no young man himself, seeks a rebirth that can never truly come to pass. Only Saul, solid in the wisdom of his years at the agency, refuses to give up on the life he loves. Where in last week’s episode, he seemed as beaten down and lost as Eliot’s narrator, Saul’s success with Javadi has given him a sense of renewal and hope for a new future. If he can pull this off, change the course of neverending counter-attacks between countries, Saul could change everything. If he is forced out of the CIA, he will still be an old man—but perhaps not dried up, not looking back at lost passion or questioning his faith. Unlike Eliot’s narrator, Saul has been in the middle of everything; he has not given in. Nor have we, still here—wondering if Homeland’s writers address us directly through a poet’s words:
“After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities. Think now
She gives when our attention is distracted
And what she gives, gives with such supple confusions
That the giving famishes the craving. Gives too late
What’s not believed in, or is still believed,
In memory only, reconsidered passion. Gives too soon
Into weak hands, what’s thought can be dispensed with
Till the refusal propagates a fear. ..
…I have not made this show purposelessly
And it is not by any concitation
Of the backward devils.
I would meet you upon this honestly.”
Javadi: The Magician remains cocky and unworried by his predicament, having been lured and trapped by Carrie and Saul. He jokes about being brought down by a girl—two girls—the disrespect evident in his tone. Fara angrily exchanges words with Javadi after explaining exactly how trapped like a rat he is, and Saul motions her to leave the interrogation room. Later on, we catch sight of Chekhov’s scissors; hopefully the writers won’t let us down, and Fara will get to carve a little magic out of His Smugness. After Javadi explains he’s figured out his own worth as bird in CIAhand, and lays out his demands—a secure compound in Miami and access to all his funds—Saul has a little inner chuckle and gives Javadi the real lowdown. Javadi is now a U.S. asset and Saul, his new case officer. Javadi will quickly be returned to his men, then fly back to Iran, where he’ll carry out Saul’s orders—else be subject to the latest Iranian in-vogue method of punishment…hanging. Javadi is angry, and tries to change the subject to how the CIA will cover up his ex-wife’s murder; he spews a nasty comment about how he should have stoned her to death, but didn’t have enough time. But Saul keeps his cool this week, and after showing Javadi photos of them together when they were younger, reminding his old friend of their shared dreams and revisiting the havoc that has been wreaked instead, Saul appeals to Javadi: “You put me in power. You go back to Tehran; I’ll do the same for you. I know a way.” In a final conversation before Javadi leaves, Saul asks him who was responsible for the CIA bombing. Javadi tells Saul it wasn’t Brody, but one of Abu Nazir’s men who set off the bomb. Later, as Carrie rides escort to Javadi’s plane to Iran, the Magician taunts Carrie with the Brody information; she doesn’t want to bite. But of course, at the last second she just can’t stand it, so Carrie runs toward the plane as Javadi walks up the steps to board. He gives her just one more tidbit; the man who built the bomb didn’t die in the explosion, and Javadi’s (now ex-)lawyer, Bennett knows where the guy is.
Carrie: It was a light week as far as facial contortions go, and I must say, I’m a little thankful for that. Much as we love our intrepid agent, it was good to have a rather male-centric episode, especially one centered on the glory that is Saul. Aside from stretching credulity with how much pressure Carrie can stand right now, we aren’t having our faces rubbed in the pregnancy worries—there was a little ill-timed, but understandable morning sickness, but not much to otherwise remind us about that nonsense. Carrie basically played errand girl, reassured Fara of Javadi’s general assholery, played middle-woman between the homicide cops (shoutout to Homicide: Life on the Street and The Wire veteran Clark Johnson who played Detective Johnson [and has also directed a few episodes]) and the CIA, and handled the aforementioned Javadi escort. Perhaps her most interesting moment was when Carrie spoke to Quinn outside his place—though for a second I was terrified she was going to grab and kiss him—when Carrie asked the disillusioned black ops boy for his help. Is she going after the bomb man on her own, because I’m guessing that won’t end well?
Quinn: What can we say about Quinn, other than, “More (shirtless moments) please?” As per our requests, we spied a freshly showered, but very mentally dirty Quinn, who found some sort of solace confessing to a crime he didn’t commit—in lieu of the ones he actually has. Le sigh…these writers know we’re suckers for an anguished bad-guy-on-the-outside/conflicted-on-the-inside hot, shirtless guy. And hey, maybe he and Carrie will run off toward the sunset together after this season; if the baby makes it, Quinn can raise it as his own and they’ll live happily ever after while we watch Homeland, Season 12: Saul and Dar Adal take over the world.
Saul: I can tell the writers are reading my recaps because this week we got back our teddy/kickass Saul. After completely owning that sniveling Magician (at least for now), Saul went for broke. He didn’t hesitate one second in dealing with the Quinn photo and homicide cops; he went home and reclaimed his wife (at least for now), and in the best mothereffin’ scene we’ve had in a long time, Saul put that Lockhart dipshit right where the Senator belonged: back in the dark, locked up and ineffectual as he would be as CIA Director. It was nothing short of glorious to see Saul’s comeback. He wasn’t going to take anything lying down—not some suave French dude trying to steal his woman, not some dickhead politician trying to take his job, and not some asshole Iranian trying to fuck with his country. Heck, even Dar Adal, pissed at being left out of the covert plot, knew which side to pick. In the series best-ever comedic moment, after explaining his brilliant plan to the asshole Senator, Saul led Lockhart to a conference room so he could call and tattle on Saul to the President. Saul and Adal then walked right out the door, locked that mothereffer in and blacked out the room as Lockhart demanded to be let out. Saul’s response: “Make me.” (Lockhart: “What the fuck?”)
Heck, even Mira can’t resist Saul now.
Fist Bumping Saul: 10 out of 10, Home slice is red hot.
Loved leaving off Saul and Mira with Van Morrison’s cheery rendition of Bye Bye Blackbird. If even for just a moment, Saul’s on top of the world.
Also adored Detective Johnson’s hard-hitting comments to poor Quinn: “But actually, I’m just trying to understand this shit that you people do. This shit that we’re party to because we pay taxes. This shit…You fucking people…Have you ever done anything but make things worse?” And even though Quinn isn’t an old man, Eliot’s poem seemed to refer to the world-weary agent even more than the Homeland greybeards. “Virtues are forced upon us by our impudent crimes.”
We asked for it, we got it—no Brody family.
Dar Adal is one dangerous dude. First he threatens Quinn: “I will nail your ass to the wall”; next he urges Saul to come clean with Lockhart: “He’s the head of the CIA, not some fuckmonkey” (well actually, yes—a fuckmonkey); and then Adal moves back to the winning side with Saul. Good thing Saul is too smart to trust Adal entirely.
So much for my notion of a Fara-Saul affair; Fara is pissed that Saul’s plan was always to return Javadi to Iran. Now she’ll have to be added to the growing loose cannon list.