Homeland Recap: 304, Controversialized

 Posted by on October 22, 2013 at 9:00 am  Homeland
Oct 222013

Homeland-304-Carrie-Saul-EmbraceGood news! After being hospitalized for exhaustion, Homeland appears to be on the mend: getting its exercise, enjoying the outdoors, and managing to follow several narratives at once. That paranoid color is back in its cheeks. Thank God!

Or should I say: Thank Saul?

Game On has a little something for everyone. It’s got medical drama, the soft creepiness of Big Law, some retro teen-runaway business, and the reunion of our favorite mentor and protegee. In between, we get to watch Leo escape from juvie Teen Promises, watch the kids fence a car, welcome back a couple of long-lost friends, see Hot Supermarket Ginger again, and worry about Carrie.

By the time Carrie appears at Saul’s house, we’re sure she’s the defeated pariah of the decade. Her bank accounts and credit are frozen, her car’s been repossessed, and her passport is invalid. Carrie is less welcome in Washington than Ted Cruz. So when she drops the pay dirt on bad guy Javadi, it’s a revelation: to Saul, and to us.

You’re an amazing person, Carrie Mathison. – Saul

It’s a credit to the writing and pacing of this episode that we don’t see the twist coming. Carrie’s distress on the psych ward is so real we don’t see it as cover for anything else, least of all deeper collusion with Saul. Clearly, no one else does either: not even stately old company man Dar Adal. This is a change from previous episodes, and a hopeful sign of what’s to come.

Now that everyone is back together — Saul and Carrie on the covert-ops down low, Jessica and Mike on parent detail, Dana and Leo on the run — what else does this episode give us?

A nice bit of psych-care cynicism. “Don’t forget to tell the board how grateful you are for their help in your recovery,” Carrie’s lawyer advises; her nurse agrees. This is an echo of what Dana told her mother about inpatient care: it’s something you have to do until the people paying for it feel good enough about themselves to decide you’re better. If you’ve ever been a mental health care consumer, this bit of wisdom might ring the real-talk bell for you.

A seasoned, believable agent of badness. Leland Bennett (Martin Donovan) is the soft-spoken, supremely creepy law-firm partner who insists on meeting Carrie in person. His client is presumably Javadi himself, the CIA’s most wanted man. This dude has a definite knack for spinning a dark web.

What you are is a liability to a lot of people who have a lot to lose. – Bennett

The CIA has chosen, as Bennett says, to “controversialize” Carrie. The leaked news of the affair, Saul’s admission to Congress that she’s bipolar: it’s all in the story they’re building, he tells her. “It’s about you.” This story would end in her death.

A nice bit of shadow play between Virgil and Carrie. We thought she’d go to him when she ran out of options. We don’t expect him to already be under CIA surveillance when this happens — and we really don’t expect how deftly he’ll alert her to that.

Tell your mom I said hi. – Virgil

As we know, Carrie’s mother is absent — from her family and her life. This comment is a bit of quick thinking on Virgil’s part, but it comes from deep knowledge of Carrie. It’s exactly the jolt she needs to get outside her own head. Beautifully done.

An on-the-lam bit straight out of Psycho. After Dana rescues Leo from his jailbreak, the kids decide to trade in the car at California Charlie’s a shady garage in the middle of nowhere. They can’t get any cash out of the deal, but they do get to brag a little: Dana glows as she compares herself and Leo to Natural Born Killers. The glow fades when she realizes the mechanic might see her that way already. Sure beats her mom’s view!

She didn’t steal the car. She said she was going to Trader Joe’s. – Jess

Jessica! How can you be so innocent? Dana is miles away right now! She didn’t go to Trader Joe’s! She doesn’t have a headache! She has your forty thousand dollars in her handbag, and for all we know that boy is making her sandwiches and milk for dinner!

Closing thoughts:

  • Saul wants to get Javadi in a room. “I want to rip him down to the studs.” I suspect that’s intelligence-speak for “waterboard him,” but what is more remarkable is that we’re this far into season 3 and haven’t gotten a good look at the bad guy yet.
  • Nice touch of the night: the birdsong in the silence, as Carrie considers Bennett’s calm list of ways the CIA might decide to kill her.
  • The Mike Watch has ended at last! I can’t be sure, but I think he might just have spent part of his bachelor downtime taking Boring Lessons.
  • And Virgil! No, you still can’t borrow his van.
  • On the other hand, the Chris Watch is on. No Chris Brody this episode, Homeland fans. Not a scene, not a line. Seeing as how his most active role is that of Dana Defender, his absence might be the reason why his sister gets into so much trouble.
  • Did I say trouble? On the Dana delinquency list this week, we have: lying, stealing and selling a car, speeding, driving while smoking pot, and sleeping in a parked car. Reciting “Kubla Khan” from memory on the grave of a dead child is sweet, but it doesn’t discount any of the other stuff.
  • We’re supposed to worry about Leo now, I gather. Did his kid brother really kill himself? Or is the file Mike produced for Jess, stating that Leo shot his brother, closer to the truth? It’s a sad story either way. I wish them both well, out there in the woods with their stolen car. Crazy kids.

  12 Responses to “Homeland Recap: 304, Controversialized”

  1. You’re thinking Psycho. I’m thinking Badlands. Kids with no money on the lam? This could get ugly.

    Melissa saw the twist coming, but she’s always the smartest person in the room. I guessed the opposite–that Carrie would take the approach by Bennett to Saul and offer to play him, to be a double-mole, if Saul brought her back in.

    It’s totally unclear where the lines of deep cover are for Carrie. How much was an act, and how much was real? This is a show that still hasn’t revealed the Season 1 mole, so I doubt they care. And in truth, the extraordinary final scene, that touching, emotionally satisfying hug, was just so wonderful to watch that I don’t care either.

    As soon as I saw Mike, I thought, THANK GOD Anne can stand down Mikewatch.

    • I also thought, when Carrie showed up at Saul’s house again, that she was going to offer herself up as a double agent. Yay Saul, already one step ahead!

      OTOH, creepy Big Brother notwithstanding, I thought it strange that the judge could be “convinced” (granted by a court order) to keep Carrie in the psych ward. If she was “a threat to Natl Security” wouldn’t she then be released into custody? Am I being too naive?

      • This show’s notions of security are adorable. It’s like Joss Whedon’s ideas about how hospitals work. IRL, if Carrie was a threat to national security, she would have been moved to Gitmo or something.

    • I don’t think Carrie always knows where the lines are herself.

      Claire Danes does a great job in this respect: she absolutely nails the selective blindness of the serious mood disorder. And until this week, I didn’t even see Virgil’s role in helping her break through her own spin. That one scene of the two of them on the phone was terrific.

      I was SO EXCITED to see Mike. I actually screamed, “MIKE!!”

      Which is interesting, seeing how boring the guy is. 🙂

      • I was excited for you.

        • I almost tweeted it. OMG MIIIIIIIKE #wherewereyou

          • Ha!
            I spent ten minutes last night explaining to Margaret what was up with all the hashtags on some SNL skit she watched…

            • I understand that Kids Today now speak in hashtags. They punctuate their comments with the words they’d tag if they were tweeting them: “Tara, look at these shoes!! On sale, hashtag YUSS.”

              I know this because my own kid does it. “Hashtag LULZ” is her most recent favorite.

  2. Not to brag (okay, bragging a little bit. Rule #1 of Forecasting: If you’re ever right, don’t let them ever forget it 🙂 ) but I got this one! See Comment #2 from 2 weeks ago:


    Alright, I didn’t have it all. I thought Saul was planning it all without Carrie. But it still counts! 🙂

    The appearance of Creepy Lawyer Guy and the discovery that Javadi has been skimming millions from his masters points to an interesting shift in who the Big Bad is. In the first two seasons, Abu Nazir ws shown to be a True Believer, dedicated to the war against The West for unshakeable beliefs. But this year, one of the first things we were told about Javadi was that, before he was the ayatollahs’ spymaster, he held the same position under the Shah (back when young Saul Berenson first knew him. I can’t wait until they give us more on that!) In short, he has no philosophical or political beliefs. He’s a spy because they pay him to be, and eventually he decided there was more money to be made from it. A nice shift in saying where the real evil in the world comes from.

    • Damn. You DID call it. Basketfriends, Melville is now our local Saul Berenson Expert! 🙂

      I have to say that this season feels darker and more pointedly cynical than past seasons. Saul says “follow the money” like it’s a mantra, and he means it: the presence of Creepy Lawyer Guy (CLG) having Javadi as a client doesn’t even register as a bombshell. It’s a commonplace: of course the most dangerous man in the world would have counsel in Washington.

      Like you, I believe that Javadi is a jaded opportunist. (It wouldn’t be the first time a guy like that funded geopolitical change.)

      I also see in CLG a certain degree of comfort with that. He knows he’s paid in blood money. He’s always been paid in blood money; who cares? The way he suggested that Carrie and his client get together and “save us all” told us what he thinks of morality and justice. Those things just don’t exist for him. If they did, they’d be liabilities.

      The excellent actor Martin Donovan plays CLG, by the way. (He was also Nancy Botwin’s DEA-agent husband Peter, aka “Agent Wonder Bread”, on Weeds.) I doubt there is another American actor who does Creepy as convincingly as he does.

      Great casting, Homeland.

      • Another actor I recognized from waaay back was Stephen Schnetzer as Carrie’s psychiatrist. I remember him from the days when I was a soap opera watcher and he was Cass Winthrop on Another World.

        Another thing I wanted to bring up was: Why are we being directed to Caracas? It can’t be just a coincidence (and I hope it’s not poor writing) that Brody is in Caracas when it seems it is the center of Javadi’s operations. Out of all the places in the world to hide (Why isn’t he hiding in a New Hampshire cabin waiting for Robert Forster to show up with the monthly supplies? 🙂 ), he’s in Caracas? This may answer my question from last week as to why Spiderneck Tattoo isn’t letting him leave. Someone wants him there. The question now is: Is it Carrie and Saul as part of their master plan, or has someone interfered in the escape route and diverted him there for their own purposes?

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