"It’s aggravating, isn’t it, when someone won’t answer your questions?"
Could it be that Saul Berenson, our beloved bearded man, one-upped the Dar Adal’s suggestion from the season 3 premiere episode, and not only threw Carrie Mathison under the bus but also jumped up very hard on it?
At the end of this ‘Uh … Oh … Ah’ episode, Carrie Mathison says “Fuck you, Saul” to the man and, though she can barely enunciate the words, she has likely never meant them more. But by then, it’s us viewers who are wondering exactly what has happened to this show and who just might want to say those words to showrunner Alex Gansa.
Gansa and his team of writers followed a pretty good season 3 premiere with one that had more twists and turns than clean sheets on a night with two lovestruck teenagers and appliances. Dana Brody (played by Morgan Saylor) isn’t back out into the world, she’s stuck at home. The Brody home washroom wasn’t remodeled, it was redone. There’s no charge for Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes), it’s a psychiatric detention order. She’s with the CIA, unless her records have been expunged.
Though he shines by his absence, Senator Andrew Lockhart is central to ‘Uh … Oh … Ah.’ Through his seat at the long table, Homeland will look at the clandestine operations of an agency like the CIA this season. Just how much is it justified? What end justifies what means? Is the CIA allowed—or rather, should it be— to send a guinea pig to the psychiatric ward in order to preserve its secrecy? Again, Lockhart might be a no-show this week, because he feel for the juicy lede last week, but these are all questions he’s trying to answer.
Saul has just “sold me down the river,” says Carrie, and she is left scrambling this week. By then, she’s off her medication and is relying on a routine instead—running six miles a day, singing, meditation. She’s still feeling great, but clearly not acting and looking it. She has one last prayer, but it falls short because the mat, it turns out, was just a rug and the reporter wasn’t exactly enlightened. Carrie wants to tell the reporter her side of the story and complains that she had missed the point in publishing the juicy lede of last week. But it’s Carrie who’s missing the point—when it comes to the Langley Bomber, Carrie can’t be trusted. Whether she is or isn’t herself, whether she’s self-medicating or not, whether she sees clearly or not, she’s in love. And love is blind, which is how she’s been forever shamed by Brody. (That business about her having been fooled once, and then twice.) There’s indeed a big lie somewhere, and it’s Carrie who’s bearing the brunt of it. “She’s not fighting back,” Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) will say of her. “She’s making herself a target.”
Thankfully for her, the trained assassin that is Peter Quinn (played by Rupert Friend) seems intent on playing the role of character witness who’s willing to stand on her side. My fascination for Quinn is well documented and continues this week.
Quinn is a man of actions, but he sometimes thinks too. He knows that the death of a 9-year-old will forever be his mistake and now wants to avoid making another one—that’s why he visits Carrie and reveals to Saul that he will leave the CIA once this operation is done, when he realizes just how low the agency has buried Carrie.
I am still #AllInForPeterQuinn. “I try to be patient with fenal shitheads like you, but I can only do it so long.” Quinn says that to the shady banker, but it turns out that he could have been talking to Saul. The beard at the head of the CIA doesn’t care, as long as he gets his fee. As odd as it is to see him lecture Saul on ethics and morals, it does make sense. It possibly sets the stage for a Peter Quinn bedtime story in a near future, like the one to an ex-CIA boss.
Meanwhile, the Brody family storyline continues. That storyline exists only as a bridge that crosses over Carrie’s head down that river and leads straight to Brody’s return, spoiled in the teaser for next week’s episode. Nicolas Brody is only alluded to, first as the Langley Bomber and then as dad, but rarely as Brody directly. Dana is still not hungry and, against all odds, this isn’t something that baffles her younger brother Chris (played by Jackson Pace), himself perpetually hungry as his appetite is always spoiled at the dinner table. Dana is alive and wants to live, and “Dad was the crazy one but I realize that I still miss him like crazy when I found the mat that he used to pray on.”
Because the season 2 finale left the country with 219 casualties, Gansa et al. are introducing new characters. The Lockhart character in last week’s season premiere was a good start, but the biggest reveal comes in ‘Uh … Oh … Ah’ in CIA agent Fara Sherazi (played by Nazanin Boniadi). She’s “The Specialist” or, as Saul puts it to Dar Adal, “a kid, with a headscarf.” Not only that, but Fara has, count them, not two, not three, not four, not five, … but all of eight days of experience working for the agency. The CIA is still standing, but barely, assigning rookies to high-profile cases—Lockhart’s questioning has certainly taken its toll.
It’s telling that just as Saul has rid the agency of the problem that was Carrie, he finds a new one in Fara. After all, his ex protégé was wearing the hijab when viewers were first introduced to her in the pilot episode, when Carrie indirectly sealed her fate and married herself to the pursuit of that “prisoner of war [who] has been turned,” who became Nicolas Brody and now simply “the Langley Bomber,” when she married Brody the only way that she could—through the CIA.
Last week, the bearded wonder was complaining to his wife Mira that he had “never asked for the job” of CIA director, but it turns out that he’s much more “temperamentally suited” to the role than he expected. He shatters the one he had brought up under his wing and makes the new rookie break down in cries on her eighth day on the job, all the while following the money trail. But remember The Wire‘s Lester Freamon? Let’s paraphrase him for a minute. You follow terrorism, and you get terrorists. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the fuck it’s going to take you. Thread lightly, Saul.
By the end of the episode, Carrie is taking her meds again, though she’s more collateral damage than willing participant in that operation. She brought it on herself, will say the agency, but that’s a simplistic approach. Turns out that Brody might have been right all along, and that there is a point to a Marine protecting the USofA against enemies both abroad and within. There may be, yes, an ennemy in Washington and he made it easy for everyone—he didn’t shave like Abu Nazir had in season 2.
Saul loves the agency more than any woman in his life. He gave up Mira for the agency, so it’s no surprise that he gives up Carrie as well. That’s why she tells Saul to take a trip to Belize, because that’s the problem. Mira, Carrie, they all come back to Saul and his beloved agency. Only, maybe this time maybe Carrie is in a hole so deep that she won’t ever get the chance to come back. Not to worry, Saul’s next ex-protégé is already here. He’s already asked her to keep something “between us for the time being.”