What a turnaround this is. Episode 7 of Homeland Season 3 and the major shock is that it’s even better than last week. If you’ve had enough Carrie and Dana to last you a whole series, then rejoice: Gerontion is Saul’s episode through and through. It might as well be called How Saul Got His Mojo Back. Dark, full of secrets and immaculately trimmed… and that’s just his beard.
Mandy Patinkin revels in the chance to take centre stage. With the episode’s title coming from a T.S. Eliot poem about an elderly man from the 19th Century observing the fallout from World War I, it’s a fitting showcase for Saul, a man out of step with the CIA post-Langley and out of touch with his alienated wife. Subtly developing his professional and personal life, it’s a chapter that manages to hit Mad Men levels of nuance.
That focus brings the thriller back from The Brody Bunch to its central concern: national security. With the sharply-dressed Javadi in custody, the question now is what to do with him. Arrest him? Put him on trial? Send him back to his home country for execution? Senator Lockhart has very clear ideas on the matter – but with two weeks until the pen-pusher takes over the CIA, Saul’s not letting him interfere with his more ambitious plans just yet.
The interactions between Tracy Letts’ by-the-numbers politician and Patinkin’s frowning outsider continue to be the highlight of the season, with their latest confrontation producing dialogue to rival Saul’s infamous tiramisu offer. “He’s the head of security intelligence,” chides Dar Adal, “not some civilian fuck monkey.”
After locking the Senator out, though, Saul ploughs ahead with his gamble – a decision that leaves Carrie and Quinn rushing to clean up after Javadi’s bloody antics last week. Amid the chaos, Homeland still finds time for some strong supporting character beats without straying into soap opera territory (a promising sign given Carrie’s ongoing condition).
Rupert Friend bears all in an earnest monologue halfway through – then bears all in a different way entirely when someone interrupts in the middle of a symbolic shower. Claire Danes, meanwhile, continues to wobble her face every time Brody is mentioned.
Javadi’s hints that Brody may not have been involved in the Langley attack suggest that Damian Lewis is due a return any minute. But with Saul’s mojo in full flow, who needs him?
Saul’s new-found confidence has seen him steal the screen away from Dana, Brody and any other dubious plot twists Homeland threw up in Season Three’s wobbly opening episodes. The show’s biggest surprise of all? This just might be the best Homeland has ever been.
Homeland Season 3 is available watch on Netflix UK as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.
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Quote of the week:
“You sound like you’re f*cking high. I’m calling the President.”
“He’s the head of security intelligence, not some civilian fuck monkey.”