Tuesday, 12 November 2013

HOMELAND, 3.7 – 'Gerontion'

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

written by Chip Johannessen | directed by Carl Franklin

Well, this third season has yet to explode, given we're seven episodes into events. There have been some significant developments along the way, sure, but The Twist caused more opposition from viewers than the writers likely anticipated. But I'm enjoying seeing Saul's (Mandy Patinkin) masterplan unfold with Carrie's (Claire Danes) dogged help, to turn Javadi (Shaun Toub) into an asset within the Iranian government; and aspects of Homeland continue to nicely explore things 24 did but from a semi-realistic angle. In "Gerontion", we see the repercussions of a top-secret CIA operation going awry on home turf, which brings a homicide investigation too close for comfort—with Quinn (Rupert Friend) now the prime suspect in Javadi's murder of his ex-wife. Jack Bauer used to avoid similar "civilian issues" all the time, so it's fun whenever Homeland addresses them.

This season's done a terrific job creating a slimy villain in Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts), who has gone from a minor pain to a full-blown asshole. In this episode Saul reluctantly clues up his successor on his stunning success turning Javadi into an asset and opening a window on the workings of Iran's government, and is met with nothing but hostility from a man with a bruised ego over not being part of the 'need to know' circle of trust. And it's once again clear Lockhart disagrees with Saul's entire ethos about counter-intelligence. I'm pretty sure a real CIA Director couldn't just turn his nose up at the kind of risky operation Saul's doing (even if Lockhart claims it's all ancient Cold War-era mentality) but for the purposes of this show I can accept it. Lockhart arguably makes for a better villain than Javadi right now, despite never having butchered a woman with a broken bottle. Letts is eating up this role with gusto.

After my hesitation about Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) last week, it seems from this episode that he's definitely on Saul's side, after supporting him in the face of Lockhart's questioning. And it was confirmed Brody didn't plant the Langley bomb, but the person who did is still on US soil. So Carrie now has a bread crumb trail to follow, starting with Javadi's lawyer Leland Bennett, and I'm assuming the rest of this season will tackle clearing Brody's name. Only now Carrie's battling bipolar and morning sickness, so the complications have doubled for her on a personal level. I just wish I cared, as I find Carrie too much of a drag when she's battling her demons.

Overall, "Gerontion" was a good episode that benefited from a lack of sub-plots that felt surplus to requirement or plain boring (i.e. no domestics at the Brody house this week). I think Saul's plan is fairly compelling, I appreciate how the writers have bravely kept Brody away from the main story for so long, and now we just need to see Carrie back on form for me to feel confident season 3 won't fizzle out. I continue to like how Homeland feels so unpredictable, too. Not enough people credit it for being hard to pin down. I have absolutely no idea what the show is building towards for the finale. In some ways that's a problem, as season 1 had a clear goal you felt constant anticipation about seeing realised in some way (an attack on the titular homeland), but I'm okay with it. The show can't repeat itself.

10 November 2013 | Showtime