HOMELAND Recap: “Gerontion”

     November 10, 2013


Do you know what was special about Homeland this week?  There were no Brodys!  “Gerontion” was about spying — the good, bad and ugly of it.  Better yet, it used Saul as the lynchpin, with some nice moments from the often overlooked Quinn.  “Gerontion” is also the name of a T.S. Eliot poem about the views of an old man, something the episode focused on both generally and specifically with Saul.  It was very different from what we’ve seen lately on the show, and that’s not a bad thing.  Though Homeland tried to shoehorn in some soap this week, it was mostly free of it, to what should be the delight of skeptical viewers.  Hit the jump for more.

homeland-season-3-poster“Gerontion” dealt largely with the idea of the justification of collateral damage.  Quinn even says to Carrie, “I don’t believe anything justifies the damage we do.”  This season, Quinn mistakenly killed a child, and witnessed the brutal murders of two women in front of a child.  Despite the fact that Quinn has often seemed like a robot, he’s started to soften, especially this year (which has provided for some well-earned character moments).  Though the groundwork for his feelings of disillusionment have been laid this season, there was still something about it that felt sudden and dramatic — far more dramatic than we’ve ever seen from him be before.

Quinn scrubbing the blood, or the memory of it, from his arms in the shower was a great moment.  Him with his head down on the table, staring out into the nothingness after his false confession was another one.  But to then go out and expel his feelings to Carrie that he didn’t believe in their cause was going to far.  In the end, he’s sticking around anyway to help her find the real Langley bomber anyway, so what was his speech even for?  The show already gave us some legitimately good political rhetoric from the detective about what is done (and covered up) in the name of national security.  Quinn didn’t need to expound that to the wind.

Regardless, those were decent questions, and the show followed up on them in other ways.  Farra was upset to learn that Javadi would not receive any punishment for his crimes.  In fact, all of the bad things he did in Iran were going to be ignored.  But the U.S. is only concerned with the U.S., and that makes sense.  Using Javadi as an asset potentially will benefit the country far more than putting him on trial.  The rationale for this was given by Saul later to Lockhart as the long-term view.  It also circled back to the show’s main focus, which has always been about the Cold War tactics of turning enemies into friends, i.e. enemies of their home country.

homeland-gerontion-claire-danesThe face of that original question, The Ghost of Brody, is still haunting us.  Saul asks Javadi if it was Brody who set off the Langley bomb, which shows Saul’s interest in the truth regardless of what he’s told everyone else for show.  Javadi later tells Carrie though that the bomber is still in the U.S., and his (former) attorney knows where.  He seemed to leave the door open though for whether or not Brody provided anything to the operation to make it happen, but now Carrie has a new cause in Brody’s name to hunt down.  Or is this all a false lead?

Brody is Carrie’s weak link, and it’s Homeland‘s weak link as well, because it leads to these soapy elements.  Of course, some come up on their own, like Saul and Mira’s relationship.  Last week was a beautifully sad moment — so it seemed — when Saul acknowledged his lack of claim on Mira, and his acquiesced that their borrowed time together was over.  But after a personal triumph at work, he returns to her galvanized and full of pleading, erasing everything he said last week.  Has having Saul as a major focus this season been a good thing?  Absolutely.  Do we need this kind of back and forth drama with his home life, though?  Not a chance.

Homeland continues to be a mixed bag, but parts of its are too compelling to look away from.  Though Carrie took a little more of a backseat this week, she still steals every scene she’s in.  Quinn and Saul too have proved worthy of coming to the forefront, and a week without Brodys didn’t effect us much at all.  As I said last week, if we look at this show moving forward as a spy thriller, then an episode like “Gerontion” is just about as good as we can ask for.

Episode Rating: B+

homeland-gerontion-rupert-friendMusings and Miscellanea:

— I feel like Clark Johnson (the police detective in this episode), is just brought in sometimes to give world-weary looks and speeches, kind of like he did as the character Gus Haynes on The Wire.  He’s good at it.

— “Have you ever done anything but make things worse?” – Clark Johnson’s detective.

— Can Dar Adal be trusted?  It seems that he’s playing both sides, sticking with whoever has the most power at the moment.

— I lost it when Saul locked Lockhart in the conference room and then turned the lights out on him.  It was ridiculous but awesome.

— The show did a good job of explaining why Saul could “trust” Javadi, even when he released him back to Tehran.  Opening up that “black box” really is an amazing feat, and one that even Lockhart shouldn’t be stupid enough to jeopardize (although he’s so uniformly evil he can’t see past his own arrogance, I suppose).

— “It’s the curse of old men to realize we control nothing. So we lash out” – Saul.

— I don’t know if Saul’s final conversation with Mira makes any difference for them moving forward, but I’m not sure that I care.  Again, more drama we don’t need.

— “Wrong crime right guy.” – Quinn.  Poor guy.  I want to give him a hug.  Preferably just as he’s getting out of the shower.

— I loved how Javadi made a joke about how Bennett is clearly his “former” attorney after this.

— So where the heck is Brody?  At this point it’s just a big-ass WTF.

— Baby Talk: on Twitter last week (you can find me @KeeneTV) a few of you said that the baby can’t logically be Brody’s because of the timeline.  So we have to assume then it probably belongs to Carrie’s hookup while she was off her meds.  If that’s the case, I truly can’t believe that she is still pregnant.  It seems entirely in line with her character to terminate the pregnancy.  The only reason why she wouldn’t would be if it was Brody’s, because of course he’s her mega weak spot.  But am I wrong?  Is there anything to suggest that Carrie would want to have a baby otherwise?