Just last week we watched as the Homeland table was carefully set, patiently hopeful our favorite dishes (panic, shock, tension) would return. Now we all gathered round, wondering what was in store as the covers were lifted from each dish, and not a damned thing was what we expected. Like Quinn said, “This is only the beginning.” “Still Positive” began nearly right where we left off, with Carrie nervously waiting for the Magician to appear; hooked up to a laptop biomonitor/polygraph machine (hey, can I get that app on my iPhone?), a couple of thugs standing guard. Javadi made his entrance, and our thoughts swirled nervously alongside Carrie’s—would she have to make a run for it? Knock someone out and grab a gun? How the hell is she going to get out of this mess? And bingo, Gansa and Co. pulled a fast one again. These writers have found their niche in rescuing characters from impossible situations, but the question is, how long can we be dazzled by the same trick? My first “Holy shit!” of the night came when in the space of a few minutes, Carrie turned that whole mess around. And they just kept coming.
Carrie Escapes Relatively Unscathed: Though the will-she-or-won’t-she-be-able to-pull-it -off game played out a few times this hour, Carrie actually did quite nicely for herself—and Saul. After it became obvious that yet again, Mentor Saul and Protege Carrie were a step ahead, Carrie gleefully showed her cards to a stunned Javadi: Yeah, we know all about your little goalkeeper alias and the money-skimming and laundering; if the Republican Guard finds out, you’re as good as dead. Javadi is so momentarily shaken, he needs a cigarette, so he and Carrie step outside where he congratulates her on his entrapment. Carrie lets Javadi know Saul would like to speak with the not-so-magical man, and the two broker an acceptable deal for Carrie to recover some important information, so as not to arouse suspicion among Javadi’s men. A few moments after Javadi goes inside, Carrie follows; the guards rush her into a vehicle and drive her to a clearing, giving Carrie a few moments of panic before unceremoniously kicking her out. She’s free to run home. As soon as Carrie arrives back at her place, she calls Saul to let him know how things went (and again, I question the idea that her pace wouldn’t be bugged); Carrie has a jarring moment of reality when she realizes no one knew where she was, but Saul tells her to “Move on, please.” He’s convinced Javadi will meet up when and where Carrie directed, and advises Carrie to get some rest. Cue the next “Holy shit” moment, when Carrie steps into her bathroom and grabs an item immediately recognizable as a pregnancy test. I realize my initial inkling about the episode title earlier was spot on…our girl is completely and utterly preggers. But don’t even waste your time wondering who Daddy is; honestly, I have no doubt. (More on that later.) I don’t know if it’s a regular thing for someone with bipolar disorder to keep retrying pregnancy tests—a kazillionty times—and saving them in a drawer, but for Carrie it rang true.
As Saul once noted, Carrie’s both the smartest and the dumbest fucking person; she just keeps hoping—hey, maybe it’s a mistake. It was a lovely touch to see how quickly her maternal instincts have kicked in; when things went where they later went, her first concern was for that poor child.
Nothing Escapes Saul?: Our suddenly emotionless Teddy Saul isn’t so snuggly anymore. He doesn’t seem to give a shit about Carrie’s well-being, and does his best to keep his hard outer shell from cracking as Mira delivers bad news: she’s hot for the man she met in Mumbai. But the look in his eye and sarcastic remark (“Oh how French of him” [not to spend the night]) belies Saul’s stoic exterior. Mira uses Ross’ “We were on a break” defense to no avail (seriously, does that ever work?), and even though he tells Mira about Lockhart’s CIA Director nomination, Saul saves his emotional outburst for much later on. While he waits for Javadi updates at the covert mission headquarters, Saul explains his complicated history with Javadi to Fara: The two men became what Saul considered “friends” while Saul was stationed in Iran during the country’s upheaval in 1979. Saul needed safe passage out of country for four people—Javadi offered help. But when Saul showed up at the safehouse, he found four dead bodies laid out side by side; he’d offered protection from the U.S. government and instead they’d gotten bullets to the head. After having watched Javadi “become an animal before his eyes,” Saul went back to D.C. and handed in his resignation. Saul tells Fara bringing in Javadi is not for revenge; he’d already achieved that by helping Javadi’s wife and son escape to the United States.
Despite all the madness that follows, Saul mostly holds it together…until the very end. But after Javadi makes his play, Saul finally lets his feelings out in a very physical way.
Holy Shit x 3!: We watched along with the team to see how everything would play out; would Javadi be as predictable as Saul believed? Even if I thought I knew better—of course, something would go wrong—I had no idea just how wrong. Carrie had instructed Javadi on when and where to meet her, Quinn dutifully drives her to Jaffi’s Coffee shop, and the gang stands by. A drone watches over Javadi’s stateside home and the team monitors as his car seemingly heads in the right direction. But the plan goes awry when Javadi’s car heads off 270 several exits early, and I get that sinking feeling as he pulls up to a house with baby paraphernalia outside the door. My guess at who Javadi was stalking last week (when he enjoyed that greasy burger) was only in the ballpark. It wasn’t Javadi’s kid, but rather, his grandchild who lives there. Still, nothing could prepare for the scene that played out when calm, mild-mannered Javadi—just like Breaking Bad’s Gus—goes completely psychotic. Javadi shoots his daughter-in-law, plays coochie-coochie-coo (at least, I believe that’s the English translation) with his grandson, and without missing a beat, breaks a bottle and viciously stabs his ex-wife over and over…creating a horrific mess that’s going to be hard to cover up. Of course, Carrie and Quinn arrive just seconds too late. They apprehend Javadi, who raises his bloody hands and chillingly says, “Now I’m ready to see Saul.” Quinn and Carrie relay the situation to Saul. Saul orders them to get the murder weapon(s), leave the baby and get out—they were never there. Mama Carrie’s maternal distress kicks in, but all she can do is offer the baby some calming words and safe haven inside the fabric and plastic playpen walls. Leaving the child clearly haunts her.
Crescendo: Quinn and Carrie transport Javadi back to the covert site where Saul’s anger at everything is finally ready to boil over. When he walks into the room where Quinn has cuffed Javadi to the table, Saul stares down his nemesis and orders Quinn to take the chains off—and the Magician to stand up. Javadi is empowered by his vengeance—smirking and sarcastic as Saul tells him to stand—and completely unprepared for Saul’s explosive blow. Javadi didn’t think Saul looked like a man who just landed the biggest asset because he underestimated the man who’d also underestimated him.
Who’s Your Daddy?: “No more Brodys, no more Carrie Mathisons,” which most definitely refers back to Carrie’s pregnancy, and confirms there is a little bi-polar ginger on the way. But how bad is this whole idea? Hint: Very, very bad. Come on, Homeland, the last thing we need is more ridiculous soap-operatic family-related hijinks. We want our spy show to be a taut and tense and sometimes terrifying espionagical thrill ride—not the Maury Povich hour.
Holy Shit Ranking: 9 out of 10, Code Red.
Senator Lockhart and Dar Adal go together like porn and the interwebs, all dirty and nasty, we feel icky after we watch them. And F. Murray Abraham is way too valuable an actor to be promoted to regular cast member, only to rate these little throw away scenes. When Adal called to give Saul a false report on his meeting with Lockhart, he most certainly heard Fara’s urgent call for Saul to return—and he’s smart enough to realize there’s something going on behind his back. So here’s hoping Abraham gets more screen time; love that thing he do(es).
Speaking of underutilizing the talent, come on Homeland, give us more Quinn. Rupert Friend is magnetic every second he’s on screen, and he certainly deserves our attention more than…
Dana and Jessica. Okay, are we done now? Thank you very much ladies—both Saylor and Baccarin are fine actresses and they squeezed every proper emotion out of the goodbye scene. Dana’s need to change her identity and leave made perfect sense, Jessica had no choice but to agree, and now we can all move on. Right?
A Homicide crew is already at the Javadi murder house when agents drive by, begging the question: Were the Iranians watching and who was seen?