Rebound Ranking Last Night's Homeland: Saul Interrupted
With an ever increasingly finicky audience—myself included—I’m still surprised at how quickly Homeland has been deemed dissatisfying to many viewers and critics. Perhaps after sticking with 24 until the very end, I grew accepting of the format that includes an unbelievably thrilling and unexpected first season, followed by “good” years that could never hope to match the first, so brilliant and shiny new. Am I too forgiving, or is it unjust and unrealistic to expect a series to maintain that newlywed high? Is it cynical to realize nothing can ever be the same as it was when we first met Carrie, both of us flush and stuttering over our words? Some have walked away, unyielding over mistakes; some stay behind, only to berate and criticize this thing, once beloved. But not unlike the waves of relationships we ride, don’t our television affairs deserve better? The best of them rate a chance to recapture that dating phase glow—for us to rediscover those bits we loved, and for them to get their feet back down on the ground. After last week’s glorious twist, I didn’t feel cheated or used or tricked; rather, I was reminded of what I loved in the first place. “The Yoga Play” was a solid return to form. It stepped gingerly; didn’t follow the big play with another shock that might have been interpreted as trying too hard. Instead, the tension slowly ramped as we waited to see pieces fall into place, albeit, with some landing where we hadn’t expected. And that’s the beauty of Homeland.
Hello, Javadi. (Say it like this) The Iranian mastermind aka The Magician aka Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) easily entered the United States at the Vermont border (thanks Canada!), posing as a businessman who needs to visit his Albany clients. So much for Homeland Security, eh? Javadi switches cars, turns down a weapon, and sets up watch outside the home of a woman with a small child—probably his, and probably future bait (to manipulate Javadi). The Magician quickly acclimates, enjoying a greasy fast food burger, and dripping said grease all over his shirt like 97.3 percent of American businessmen do every day. He then proceeds to his secret mansion headquarters where he asks to see a tape of Carrie’s interview before changing to a clean shirt.
Hello, Quinn. Quinn pops over to Saul’s house where Saul is dressed foolishly; he’s going duck hunting with a bunch of bigwigs who are supposed to talk to Saul about a permanent job as head of the CIA. Saul wonders how he looks (foolish) and Quinn tells him, “If I were a duck, I’d be worried.” Quinn is as incredulous as we were when he hears that Saul and Carrie had planned all along to “dangle” her—Quinn’s reaction is “Fuck me,” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a moment to consider the proposition. Saul just keeps tying up his duck killing boots, and doesn’t seem to notice how hot Quinn is.
After Carrie is visited by a frantic Jessica and convinced to help her find Dana, Carrie sets “The Yoga Play” in motion with Virgil’s brother, Max (Maury Sterling). The much used scheme allows for Carrie—who is under surveillance by the Iranians— to walk into a yoga studio and disappear out the back for as long as the class lasts. But first Quinn surprises Carrie in her parking garage and warns her that the idea is not a good one. Of course Carrie won’t listen; she’s off her meds again—whee! Carrie thanks Quinn for visiting her at the hospital when she was down, and takes off with Quinn now tailing her too. If people would just listen to Quinn’s instincts, they’d be a whole lot better off. Later on, when Saul also refuses to listen to him, Quinn’s instincts rightfully tell him something is up at Carrie’s home and Quinn ignores Saul’s commands to keep back. And that’s when our Quinn discovers Carrie has been taken; her clothes left in a pile on the floor, her phone broken. When Quinn alerts Saul, concerned that Carrie is on her own, Saul seems pleased and ever so strangely and matter of factly tells Quinn, “She’s always been on her own.”
Hello, Saul. Saul has a lot to deal with this episode. Not only does he have to dress foolishly, he has to go hang out at a hunting lodge with a bunch of insufferable fuckheads, including White House Chief of Staff Mike Higgins (William Sadler) and smarmy Senator Andrew Lockhart. Even after I’m as freaked as Quinn by Saul’s unemotional “dangled” comment, I still feel badly when Lockhart visibly knocks the wind out of his sails, telling Saul that he—not Saul—is about to be nominated by the President as Director of the CIA. Lockhart has all kinds of plans that don’t involve real people or espionage, and honestly, we all know spying is where the action is. But Saul’s not the kind of guy to go out without a fight, so he makes a snide comment about the new Director’s qualifications, and wishes the Senator luck before ducking out (sorry) early. On top of the ambush career letdown, Saul comes home to find a surprised Mira dining with a handsome gentleman; Saul dashes upstairs to catch his breath alone.
Goodbye, Carrie! After the yoga play nearly goes awry, everyone wonders if the Iranians caught on. Carrie tries to convince Saul and Quinn no one made her, but it’s obvious she isn’t sure, herself. Off her meds and drinking again, anything can happen with Carrie, and it does. Perhaps it really is disadvantageous to watch the next week’s preview segment, because as we neared the end of the episode, I was prepared for the Carrie-nabbing (though not that terrifying strip search). But what I really wonder is, how long were those two guys inside Carrie’s place? Did they hear her conversations with Saul and Quinn? It seems only logical her place would already have been bugged, so isn’t it foolish of her to discuss anything at all over the phone or at her home? Still, I jumped right alongside Carrie as she realized she wasn’t alone and ran for her gun; we all knew it was too late. “You’re in good shape,” Javadi says, greeting Carrie, “must be all that yoga.” She’s in a hell of a lot of trouble, kidnapped with no trail or tracking, and I can’t wait to see how she gets out.
Rebound Ranking: 8 out of 10. Yellow. Everything is tentative, just how we like it.
Other thoughts. Dana, Leo…blah blah blah. For a minute there at the gas station, I thought they might actually fulfill Dana’s “We’re natural born killers” declaration—the kids didn’t have much money, so maybe they’d just start robbing and killing. But instead, Dana heard a newsflash, confronted her whacko boy-toy and begrudgingly caught a ride home with the cops. I did honestly feel badly for her, sobbing alone in her room, realizing she can’t trust any man.
Mira, don’t you know saying “I didn’t expect you back tonight…” is probably the worst, most incriminating thing you could have said?
It really, really bothers me that Quinn was so unnerved by the word “dangled” being used in reference to Carrie, and it doesn’t seem to bother Saul at all. His ever-changing moods are worrying me so very much. The Saul we’ve come to know and love seems blinded by and monomaniacal about this mission of getting Javadi; nothing and no one else matters. There is something personal about Saul’s drive…
Carrie isn’t sure she likes being watched by Quinn, but as Saul has clearly and emotionlessly stepped away from Carrie, I think she’s going to be more and more glad Quinn is on her side. I’m also willing to bet he saves her life.