Homeland Recap: 307, The Damage We Do

 Posted by on November 12, 2013 at 8:00 am  Homeland
Nov 122013

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 12.57.34 PMSigns are taken for wonders. “We would see a sign”:

The word within a word, unable to speak a word,

Swaddled with darkness.

“Gerontion,” T.S. Eliot

In 1919, working at a bank to support his poetry habit and an ailing wife, 32-year old T.S. Eliot imagined the confused desolation of a man more than twice his age. Gerontion” is a meditation on age, decay, the sounds we hear between our own words — wind, whispers, footsteps — and the relentless work of the natural world.

Gerontion is also the title of this week’s episode. It stands as a warning to Saul, the “old man in a dry month” of the show, who thinks he’s having a good day.

We’re on Homeland’s best track this week, following both the money and the bad guys. The Brody family has left the building (except for Nick Brody himself, haunting at least two conversations and everyone’s doubt). Big moves are finally the order of the day. Yet we can’t believe in much of this action, because of what else we see in this episode.

I’m sending you back to Tehran one way or another. Either as my asset or a traitor to the Revolution. – Saul

As the two old friends chat in the safe house, it’s clear that Saul has the upper hand over Javadi. He knows it, the team knows it, we know it.

But it’s a lie.

After Saul dispatches Carrie to get Javadi on a plane back to Tehran, he stands outside the safe house for a moment to call Mira. She answers, though she’s in her bedroom with her lover. Saul doesn’t ask what she’s doing, and Mira doesn’t tell.

We watch an overly-confident Saul tell his cheating wife that she was right about his jealousy. We watch him tell her exactly when he’ll be home (“late, as usual”), and see her calculating what this means for her and the man in the bed. Homeland is cuckolding Saul right in front of us.

He’s the acting Director of the CIA, a man more used to seeing through lies than anyone else, yet he has no idea. Saul is so enamored of being the guy who played catch-and-release with the world’s most wanted man that he can’t see the forest for the trees.

If Mira can lie to Saul and get away with it, why can’t Javadi? How is this send-the-asset-home business going to backfire on Saul? Will Quinn take the fall for him on that one, too?

When Quinn shows up on security cameras at Javadi’s bloody crime scene, there’s no question of who the fall guy will be. Of course Carrie will lay the groundwork at the crime scene; naturally Quinn will be the cool, dispassionate company man who somehow repeatedly stabbed a young mother to death with a wine bottle. The detective is as frustrated as the rest of us, watching Quinn reluctantly wrap himself in the flag of “national security” while telling his series of bad lies.

I’m just trying to understand this shit that you people do. This shit that we’re party, that we pay taxes. This … this shit. – The Detective

Javadi? What Javadi? Sometimes a guy just feels like walking into a random suburban house and killing two people he doesn’t know, amirite?

Poor Peter Quinn has some heavy lifting to do this week. He has to take the Gratuitous Shower of Love-Interest Foreshadowing! He has to lie to his old boss (Dar Adal) on behalf of his new boss, Saul, and he has to make that ridiculous confession.

You know what else I realized? Just how through I am with … this. I just don’t think I believe it anymore. That anything justifies the damage we do. – Quinn

And as a final insult, he gets talked out of following his conscience because Carrie Mathison “needs his help.”

As a weary Quinn leaves the crime-scene interview to meet Carrie on the lawn outside, the cicadas of late summer rioting all around them in the dark, I’m reminded of the birdsong we heard during Carrie’s quiet talk with Creepy Lawyer Guy back in Game On. CLG had just told Carrie of her likely fate: a quiet, inauspicious death at the hands of the agency she’s served for years. As she considered this, we heard the world around her.

That world doesn’t know who these people are. It doesn’t care what they spend their time doing, and it won’t care when they’re gone. “Gerontion” — episode and poem — assures us of this once again. It’s time we listened.

This week’s Closing Thoughts:

There is no Dana, only Quinn. That sound you hear is the collective cheering of millions of Homeland viewers, grateful for one week away from the teenage drama of one Dana Brody Lazaro.

That other sound you hear? The same millions, wondering where Peter Quinn In a Towel has been all their lives.

Speaking of Quinn: I think a CIA man of his level knows how to spot security cameras. I also think he knows what not to do when confronted with one (posing for a selfie would make the list, don’t you think?). Is this guy so over the CIA that he now wants to get made? I have to wonder.

Fara and Javadi yelling at each other in Farsi: I wanted subtitles. Homeland didn’t give me any, and it wasn’t the first time. (We also didn’t get subtitles in Venezuela.) For a show that ensures we get shown and told what’s happening — often more than once — this is an interesting omission.

Carrie’s not in this episode much; when she is, she’s puking. Morning sickness or lack of confidence in where the operation is going? You tell me.

Senator Lockhart remains cartoonish, and this week that worked for me. The lock-him-in-the-conference-room-with-a-phone-he-can’t-use trick was pretty juvenile, but I still got into it. I liked seeing Saul go full fourth-grader on the guy.

Open the door.


Open the goddamn door.

Make me. – Lockhart and Saul

Turning the lights out, even? BURN.

We need to talk about the hubris of Saul Berenson. Describing the 12-12 bombing, Saul tells Javadi, “My first thought was, ‘Something has to change.’” One: what kind of public servant thinks that, immediately after losing his friends and colleagues? And two, is the methodical Saul really the kind of guy who’d push the scope of an investigation that much? Use it to redraw the map of the world? Really?

Javadi “doesn’t know” who bombed the CIA. He has no reason to lie to Carrie, we think. We also know that he has no reason NOT to. He’s in the wind now. He’s free.


  19 Responses to “Homeland Recap: 307, The Damage We Do”

  1. Okay, what do we think? Did Brody know about the bomb? Frankly, I think he did. Thoughts folks?

    Oh, and thank you Homeland for a week without Dana….I literally turn off the sound when she is on camera….blaughhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    great show again this week….

    • I think Brody knew. I also think that he thought he had disarmed the operation with the capture of Roya and the death of Abu Nazir.

      But he also grieved for Nazir, which leads me to doubt what I think. I saw some surprise in his grief, as if what was happening was neither what he’d imagined or as he intended. So I’m still not sure — which is probably just where Homeland wants me to be.

      • Roya……….SIIIIGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Still in agony over her.
        Quinn full on James Dean routine, jaded young guy, shirtless in a towel. That was for the ladies, methinks.
        I kept waiting for Pemberton from NBC’s Homicide to question James Dean. Bal-tee-more is not THAT for from Javadi’s spaz attack in extremis.
        Salieri is now somebody I’m sposed to root for now that Saul is cool with him again?
        When is Saul gonna make the goo-goo eyes at Fara? She is in a supplicant position, is totally age-inappropriate, can converse in a foreign language that Saul I think can speak, and her picking up the knife just thinking about whacking Javadi, just clinched it. She is perfect.
        Man, what is there to lose? Go Saul, Go Saul.

        • I kept waiting for Pemberton from NBC’s Homicide to question James Dean. Bal-tee-more is not THAT for from Javadi’s spaz attack in extremis

          Heh, I had the same thought on seeing Clark Johnson aka Det. Lewis. If Javadi’s family actually lived within Baltimore jurisdiction, we could see Carrie and Quinn dragged downtown. I visualize Andre Braugher staring implacably back at Quinn as he questions him in The Box, Giardello/Yaphet Kotto wearily negotiating with Saul, while Munch/Richard Belzer mordantly comments on the CIA’s excesses.

          I still miss Homicide 🙁

        • tk, you know Roya is still alive somewhere, right? She’s being held indefinitely without trial somewhere, just like Homegrown Terrorist Aileen (RIP).

          Obviously, the best person to interrogate Carrie and Quinn in B’more is Lester Freamon. He’d train his world-weary gaze on them and they’d sing like canaries.

          And yes, tk: a decent eulogy for The Wire is definitely in order here. 🙂

  2. This was my favorite episode of the season so far, probably because it’s what I wanted: Saul at center stage as George Smiley (even the same faithless wife.) I resented bringing the plot back to Carrie Must Prove Brody’s Innocence. I’ve long since lost interest in that. I want to see Saul’s gambit play out. Certainly it’s hubristic, but it comes from the same source as Quinn’s disillusionment, the homicide cop’s disgust (did you notivce he was played by Clark Johnson, once Homicide: Life On The Street‘s Meldrick Lewis?), and even Senator Lockhart’s contempt (“this clown show”). The CIA is a disaster, but Saul believes that, now that he has the big chair, he and Javadi (another old man who once had ideals) can effect real change. Noble, but, yes, Hubris. The passage from Eliot that most applies:

    “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 if 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 “

    • “Whispering ambitions.” Yes!

      What I liked about this episode, in order:
      1) Saul in the driver’s seat, but undermined: a ballsy narrative choice
      2) The episode title, a poem that never comes up in the story, is a clue to the audience
      3) The ambient noise — cicadas are great for storytelling

      I recognized Clark Johnson, but I could not remember from where. He’s good in everything. 🙂

      • Clark Johnson used to be one of the main cast members for NBC’s “Homicide: Life in the Streets” and “The Wire”. He is also a director for both television and movies.

        • Yes! YES! The newspaper editor on The Wire, head guy in charge of “the Dickensian aspect”!

          I loved that show. Thank you!

          • When are we getting around to a discussion of The Wire, just like Citizen Kane, is actually the BEST EVAH. It’s rare when the mass opinion, is correct. (So says me, the asshole who knows everything about nothing.)

            A contemplation on The Wire is due Anne.
            Pretty, pretty please.
            I’ll arrange for Kershaw to show up at your job, or something.
            Please. 🙂

  3. I think Brody’s relationship with Abu Nazir was a lot more complicated than people want to admit. I feel that most of the audience want to judge it, along with Brody’s actions in black-and-white terms. As far as many are concerned, he’s either a traitor or not. Or in terms of Abu Nazir, the latter was a mentor . . . or a tormentor. Only one or the other. And I cannot help but wonder if that is the reason very few want to focus again on Brody and his family. The moral ambiguity that surrounds him (and makes “Homeland” so fascinating to me) is a bit hard to swallow in an age where we want to judge our fictional characters – especially in an action oriented genre – with moral absolutism.

    I will never be finished with “Homeland” as long as Nicholas Brody’s story remains unfinished. He is too fascinating to me.

    • I love this comment.

      What I originally found so compelling about the character of Nick Brody was his compromised nature, as a POW and a Muslim. I felt as though he stood in for a certain American type: broken, incompletely mended, utterly unable to be again what he once was.

      Season-1 Nick Brody reminded me of the stories I’ve heard of American soldiers returning home with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD: they number in the hundreds of thousands, yet we only seem to hear about them when one of them does something awful.

      I agree with you: we like our action media to be very clear good-versus-evil stories. We love happy endings, and we don’t like unanswered questions or moral confusion. These preferences leave very little room for those wounded in our “moral” battles to tell the truth about what they did, saw, and suffered.

      Nick Brody’s character seemed like a rebuke to all of that. He may not have always been the best guy for the job (husband, father, Senator, lover), but the fact that he’d survived meant there was room for someone like him in all of those roles.

      I lost a lot of my feeling for Brody in the cartoonish Season 2. Still, I believe that people have the right to make mistakes and recover from them. I believe that victims of violence and trauma deserve both the time and space to heal, and equal access to success when they do. And I don’t think that perfection serves the cause of humanity in any way at all — no matter how hard our TV and movies try to present it as the goal. Brody’s character was a nice rebuke to all of that.

      I am not ready for Homeland to drop Brody’s story. If Damien Lewis has found another role (I’m hearing people say this is why he’s not in S3 as much), that’s fine — but his story was the riveting one in the beginning, and I think it still is.

  4. The show ran off the tracks so long ago that it seems something of folly to take it seriously – even to take Saul seriously.

    I suppose a house-cleaning would be in order after the disaster that ended last season – but that doesn’t mean that Saul should roll over and give up. To orchestrate such a ruse sure looks brilliant even if the particulars on its portrayal have problems.

    (and would a not-yet-confirmed Director Lockhart really blow the whistle on a deep play like Saul’s?)

    I’m not so sure Saul needs to “trust” his new double-agent any more that to trust Javadi’s sense of self-preservation. Saul has a $45-million hammer to drop if he’s not completely happy with that nasty devil.

    The “argument” between Javadi and Saul’s hijab/scarf-wearing minion would never have happened anyway (more running off-the-tracks), so I didn’t really care for a translation of a disregardable scene.

    Javadi is such a big score that the CIA had to give him their espionage-version of diplomatic-immunity. Throwing Quinn at the cops was, again, another example of the writers’ running off the tracks – a scene nearly as gratutituous as the Dana hand-wringing and wrist-slashing. In the real world the cops have to swallow the CIA playing the National-Security-Card. They may even have to help with a cover-up – yet another unsolved case.

    It would be nice to have young Dana Brody chill for awhile in her privately-arranged-foster-home – say until the end of the series. Throw a bone to the teenagers with the occasional cameo. In her place let’s bring back the Ex-Senator.

  5. Carrie is the reason I started watching the show. ( A chick who could probably name the tracks of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue off the top of her head!!! I NEEEEED to find her.) Why am I surprised that Danes is so skilled an actor? Maybe Terminator 3 did it.
    She is routinely excellent, and sometimes otherworldly.

    Saul is the reason I stay watching. He is the rock who will melt when he sees how far he miscalculated with his wife. Patinkin will make a 7 course meal out of that situation.

    Brody is a little bit of a one trick pony to me. His card has been played, and the deck is empty.
    Love Damien Lewis. He is big time. Wish he had a better character to play. Or, should I say, a better written one.

    • I became a Claire Danes fan from her performance in, of all things, Little Women. I could never get into My So-Called Life (tried during its initial run, then later when it was replayed on cable, but I never liked it), but that she could play Beth so believably and movingly, a character who in every other film adaptation comes across as too sugar-sweet and insipid, really knocked me out.

  6. This is great analysis, Anne. I feel like I like the episode better after reading it.

    Quinn was AMAZING. The blink of concession to helping Carrie–that is some fucking ACTING.

    • Especially when you consider just how done he is with all of it.

      Quinn conceded to so much, in just that one day. He’s the show’s new weathered hero.

      • I think that the actor, writers, and set designers have done a great job over S2 & 3 communicating Quinn’s cumulative utter isolation and alientation. He’s Brody’s doppelganger, right down to who is pulling his strings (Adal, Estes via Adal, lately Saul, lately Carrie [based in large part on his surveillance of her that echos her S1 surveillance of Brody]). Both are institutionally highly objectified “soldiers” stripped of recognition of their humanity. Carrie intercepting and jacking just-interrogated Quinn into her next play, then letting him drive away into the night was cold, man.

        Also, based on the clip from next week, I would love to know/hope the writers just don’t drop cluing us in on what “foundation” on whose board Adal sits the crooked lawyer dude has raised a million dollars during the past quarter.

        • NB: The Jeremy Scahill documentary “Dirty Wars” (2013) is currently streaming via Netflix & is good companion viewing for this season of Homeland, especially re JSOC, “kill listing,” etc.

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