OK, Homeland, so lately you’ve been aiming to keep viewers hooked by depreciating expectations and excitement for about 90% of the episode, and then in the last several minutes, BAM, letting a sick twist out of its cage. It’s that hit up bar with your less cute friend so that you look more attractive by comparison, trick. Well, is it working?
It’s certainly amusing. By the middle of last night's episode we had the CIA and Javadi watching Carrie, Carrie watching Special Agent Hall, Quinn watching the CIA and backing Carrie, and Saul watching Senator Lockhart shoot geese.
It gave the feeling that we were all on a long, fruitless stakeout until the very last minutes of the episode. In those final minutes two of Javadi’s men broke into Carrie’s house while she was sleeping, forced her to strip as they searched her for a subcutaneous wire, subsequently hooded her and took her to Javadi, who is apparently the lord of cheese. Yep, cheese. Just look at this line: “Carrie Mathison, you’re in good shape. Must be all that yoga.” Are you sure you’re not slotted for Saturday morning, Homeland?
In fact, Javadi comes off as borderline goofy. In one scene, while on a stakeout (of course), he stains his shirt eating a hamburger.
Is this supposed to be funny? Is this some sort of Checkov’s gun thing where his burger-stained shirt is later used against him? Because if not, not only is it a complete waste of show time (heh), it makes Javadi look like a doofus.
And now for our weekly segment:
What Crazy Things Did Carrie Do This Week?
Flushed all her pills. Placed her mission — catching the biggest national security threat since Nazir — in jeopardy by going off on a side quest to help Jess locate Dana. Usually, it’s apparent why Carrie gets irrational — mostly, it's guilt and an insatiable passion for protecting the future of the country, which intermingle in a fog and cloud her short-term vision. And while Carrie makes a good point in that Dana may be Brody’s only source of communication, and thus must be kept safe, Carrie’s jarring deviation from a plan she was literally committed to falls short of any sort of plausibility.
Was there anything in episode five, aside from the ending, that oiled this season's creaky gears?
Well yes, and it came in the form of Saul’s delicious toast during the goose-hunting trip with Senator Lockhart. It was one of the most mordantly polite passive-aggressive speeches in recent television memory (way under, of course, Walt’s pants-wetting passivity in the Schwartz’s residence).
Check it out:
“I too would like to congratulate Senator Lockhart on his nomination. If he’s half as good a director as he is a shot, we’re in safe hands ... Maybe that wasn’t the right analogy. Being a spy isn’t the same as sitting in a hole, waiting for the enemy to come under your guns. You’re in the jungle, usually in the dark with bad information and unreliable partners … The Senator has made a career criticizing the Agency he’s about to lead. His first job, in my opinion, is to win the hearts and minds of those men and women in harm’s way, otherwise he’s just another political appointee holding up his finger to see which way the wind is blowing. I wish you luck, Senator. In the meantime, I still have two weeks left on my watch and a lot of work to do. Bon appétit.”
Criticizing Lockhart’s militaristic past and implied unsuitability for the role, and at once acerbically poking at the fact that a politician like Lockhart has “bad information and unreliable partners,” Saul dresses his stealthy verbal attack in a satisfyingly sardonic guise.
We know Saul can be absolutely masterful with achieving his desired results, and we know he has a veritable shot at changing the president’s mind about the nomination. But one less-than-masterful area in Saul’s life may come to distract him in the coming two weeks: his crumbling marriage.
Coming home in a thoroughly vexed state after Lockhart’s announcement, Saul pays little regard to Mira’s guest that night: a younger man with an unbuttoned dress shirt. Very likely this is Mira’s answer to the end of their marriage, and it has the potential to throw Saul’s game off course.
The toast segment, along with the final, blood-pumping scene make up the cream of this week’s very flaccid crop.
Speaking of flaccid, Dana finds out the truth about Leo and goes home, where she tells Jess she’s fine but she’s actually not. Uh-huh, moving on.
Highlights: Carrie’s wickedly good in-show acting as she gets snatched by Javadi’s men, the final five minutes, Saul’s toast and Carrie's fan service.
Till next week.