Homeland, ‘Still Positive’ review: Is this the month of March?

“You may have me over a barrel, but I’ll never be your bitch.” 

Prior to ‘Still Positive,’ all of us viewers had been detached just like Saul had been in his conversation with Mira. For the better part of the last season and a half, we had every reason to get mad at showrunner Alex Gansa but we had preserved face. But by the end of this sixth episode, we finally flipped. Just like Saul did.

Or maybe I was alone like that. M’eh. 

I’ve figured out Homeland—it’s a triangle of a forest, trees and a cabin in the woods. Call it the triangle of wood. The powers that be at Showtime will have us viewers seeing one of the three, and our choice is then to decide which of the other two to look for. This week, Gansa et al. had two of the three showing for Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) but the Beard couldn’t figure out that the next place in Javadi’s journey would be equally as green as the previous one on the golf course. Apparently, Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) isn’t the only CIA official blinded by love.

That’s where the episode starts. With love.

But it turns out that this “Alain Bernard” was just the beginning. Saul’s talk with Mira then veered toward the triangle of wood.

Seeing Saul maintain that facade of detachment was difficult, because he knew just as well as we did that it was up and that he had “no claim on you” as he tells Mira (played by Sarita Choudhury. And in his heart—which, oh by the way, probably has a beard as well—he understood the magnitude of it after last week’s stunning betrayal from the one woman in his life that he loves dearest, the CIA.

And I realized that I was very much like Saul and felt detachment toward Saul when, really, it was all just a facade. It was all love!

(Really, I can’t stress enough how excellent this scene was. It may have been my single favourite of the third season, and that’s telling because it didn’t really have any bearing on the main storyline. Maybe that should be a lesson, here. What happened to Saul and Carrie as fully-formed characters, with aspirations, motivations, and conflicts? It’d be nice to bid adieu to the days of them being mere caricatures of themselves and move back to the days where they had three dimensions. Or rather, maybe that’s wrong. Because for Carrie, one of those three dimensions has always been Sgt. Nicolas Brody. Only now, Brody isn’t here anymore (but Junior sure maybe on the way right, Carrie?). In Saul’s case, past episodes have hinted at something greater but maybe it had been meant to stay that way and now that he’s front and centre, we all see how hollow it all was. In this third season, Saul and Carrie have never stopped running around that triangle of wood. Maybe it’s time that they stop a little.)

There may have been love between the glassed wonder, Max (played by Maury Sterling), and the new age Carrie, Fara Sherazi (played by Nazanin Boniadi). I’m one of the only ones who saw this, but I’m riding it out. I know what I saw. The glances. The teamwork. This must have felt so strange to Max, as he’s used to being nothing but the yoga mat to Carrie Mathison’s wrath. “Racial profiling by neighbourhood?”, asks Fara. No. “The FBI calls it Domain Management,” answers Max. It’s like they finish each other’s –sandwiches!

I had plenty of love for Peter Quinn (played by Rupert Friend), as I always do. He seems intent on standing tall in Carrie’s corner, probably because he doesn’t accept that “she’s always been on her own.” Oh, and he also added to his Def Poetry Jam audition tape.

Carrie, meanwhile, had lived of nothing but love for so long to the point where she doesn’t “know what I am” anymore. She’s pregnant, sure, and probably with Brody’s baby because these are the type of things that Showtime has accustomed us to. But she doesn’t know what she is—is she an asset, because it sure felt that way when the surveillance she thought was following her wasn’t anywhere? Is she still working with the CIA? Did she turn Majid Javadi (played by Shaun Toub)? Is she looking for Brody anywhere in the world because it’s her job as a CIA official or as a future mother of his newborn child?

There was no love lost, either, between Dar Adal (played by F. Murray Abraham) and his soon-to-be-ex-commander in chief Saul. While Saul was taking “the scenic route” to Albany (i.e. to that golf course), Dar Adal befriended the man he will call “Sir” in just two weeks in senator Andrew Lockhart (played by Tracy Letts). I can’t help but wonder that there may be a little too much Bill Rawls to Dar Adal for his move against his superior to unfold according to play. Fortunately for him, Saul is definitely not Ervin H. Burrell and has apparently decided to bring out every surprise in the book. However bundled Dar Adal’s back-door politics may be, it will be nothing that can’t be fixed compared to the mess that Saul leaves on the dress shirt of his love, the CIA.

There was plenty that was problematic in ‘Still Positive,’ but it was at least a step in the right direction. We could see the cabin at the end of the woods, so to speak. But remember that triangle of wood?

It turns out that the Dana Brody storyline, which had seemingly reached an apex with last week’s demise of “Leo Romeo,” was only getting started.

Yep. Dana Brody is now Dana Lazaro and she’s living with her friend Angela. I heard good things about Morena Baccarin’s performance as Jessica Brody in this episode, from her reaction to her daughter’s decision to don her maiden name only to realize that it was a con to coax her into releasing her to the real world, but it didn’t move me. (It was a con. You know it as well as I do. Come on!) I don’t believe in that storyline. In the first two seasons, there was at least Nicolas Brody to ground this and link it to the rest of the action. That’s not the case anymore.

What’s the next place in Dana Lazaro’s Homeland journey? At this point, I couldn’t care less. I’m thinking that it’s almost best if Dana’s next place be a trip to Belize rather than a car ride to Atlantic City. This isn’t to say that I dislike Morgan Saylor the actress, because I don’t. She’s very talented. But in ‘Still Positive,’ I felt like for the first time she understood how hollow her character is and that there’s a reason she fell for a Sleepy Hollow in the first place. And I know that she said that, “We don’t have to be who we are” and that she’d “flip burgers.” But she said that with “Leo Romeo” on the road trip of her sweet sixteen. (Or maybe, Leo Carras is behind it all and Dana has decided to forgive him and meet him wherever. Whatever.)

Nothing about the Brody household appeals to me. All I see is a young teenager who talks about as much as a wallpaper and who may be the most even-keeled young man of all time in Chris Brody (played by Jackson Pace), especially in the light of how his sister reacts to the same tragedies and to how malnourished he is—seriously, could he not complete one meal uninterrupted for once?

If that continues, then I know what the next place is on this Homeland journey. It’s hell.