Homeland Review: “Gerontion” (Season 3, Episode 7)

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The scene between Quinn and the cops was great because finally somebody called somebody else out on their shit. Somebody finally said “You know what? You might be working for the greater good, but the ends don’t always justify the means. You can’t be like this anymore.”

To me, I felt like this scene was a game-changer, as much as I hate that phrase. That scene was when the show changed gear and accelerated away from the competition. It’s what puts the show on a higher moral plain than 24 ever hit, and other shows to which Homeland could feasibly be compared. The entire scene was played with total seriousness, but I really enjoyed the deadpan humour and the Kafkaesque absurdity of what Quinn could and couldn’t tell the cops, his totally non-committal answers, and how the only thing he said was actually not true at all. To add another level of oddity, his confession to the murders that Javadi committed seemed like a genuine release, even though they weren’t his crimes. He’s a powder keg waiting to go off and that confession loosened the pressure a little bit. Still, I have a feeling that if there is a weak link, Quinn is one of the biggest.

I also loved the whole scene in which Lockhart is finally apprised of Saul’s scheme. His initial shocked reaction was priceless, but watching his jaw drop further and further with each of Saul’s reveals was genuinely fantastic. I really liked Lockhart when he was the attack dog out to get the CIA, so seeing him taking charge of such a meaty, adversarial role is joyful. He really reminds me of somebody, but I can’t think who – he’s got the snarky disbelief and silver hair/glasses combinatin of Keith Olbermann, but I don’t think that’s who I’m thinking of. He’s great though, and you can tell that Tracy Letts is absolutely loving every second of it.

Lockhart takes over as Director of the CIA in ten days (as of “Gerontion”), but in the meantime he’s left twiddling his thumbs and waiting to see if Saul’s scheme comes to fruition. There’s two ways this could go – either Lockhart finally cops to the President, and gets the entire operation cancelled, or the scheme pays off and Lockhart takes the plaudits that come with it. I know which one sounds more immediately dramatically exciting, but given Homeland‘s recent attempts at wrong-footing the audience, either storyline has potential.

Aside from all that, we get some sheer joy and pure comedy from seeing the Acting Director of the CIA lure the incumbent Director of the CIA and locking him in the boardroom to prevent him tattling to the President about Javadi’s flight to Iran, Lockhart running to the door to get Saul to unlock the door, and Saul refusing. I have a theory that “No” is the funniest word in the English language, and Mandy Patinkin’s perfect “No” was deliciously hilarious. I loved it.

Overall, “Gerontion” was an incredibly tense episode about getting Javadi out of the country, but it was also about bursting the tension bubble the show has built for itself over the past few episodes. There’s still no Brody, but also no Dana, no Jess and no distractions. This episode was about simplifying and cutting to the very core of the show, and re-focussing to take us into the second half of the season. If this episode is anything to go by, we’re going to have a hell of a time.

Random Robservations

  • “Well… that’s my legal name.” I loved that. It hints at so much we don’t know about.
  • Part of me really wanted Fara to attack Javadi with those scissors she gripped, even though that would have ruined the entire show.
  • I did like how Fara and Lockhart’s instincts – to announce Javadi’s guilt to the Iranians and Americans respectively – were essentially the same, given how different they are.
  • Making Javadi also a criminal in Iran is a nice touch. They keep saying he represents “the Iranians” but he doesn’t, actually. He’s also a criminal there. The show sometimes obfuscates this, which is weird given how important a point that is clearly going to become.

More Homeland next week!