Besides this journey into chaos, much of the rest of Homeland seemed to be acting more like reality than a fantasy. CIA director Lockhart (Tracy Letts), who has been mostly absent this season, shows up in Islamabad to lead the charge on getting Saul back and taking out Haqqani. He doesn’t care of the “diplomacy” that the U.S. ambassador has been working at with the Pakistani authorities. He arrives in town armed and ready. “This is no time to sulk,” he announces, before situating himself as the new station chief responsible for recovering the ex-CIA director.
Minutes later, Lockhart threatens a Pakistani leader to return Saul to the embassy or risk losing some of the American aid package. Lockhart is the opposite of Carrie: where she is indecisive and emotional, he is tactical and to-the-point. However, Martha is not happy with his imperialist power over her desk and threatens to resign her post. Considering how much of the third season relied on the viewer rooting for Saul and detesting Lockhart, it is nice to see the latter’s pragmatic virtues coming into play as he tries to resuscitate the botched operation. (Maybe it was his “redux” the title refers to.)
After a couple of weeks without the Saul Berenson we all know and love – his behavior at the airport a couple of episodes ago felt too forced to be believable – Patinkin gets some time to shine this week. We also get a chance to meet Haqqani in more detail, played by Turkish actor Numan Acar. First shown with his hand floating outside the open window of his car, the fourth most wanted man in the world is relieved that, now out of hiding, he gets the chance to see his wife and many sons. Saul’s grief is palpable not when one of Haqqani’s sons throws a shoe at the ex-CIA director like it’s a brick, but when he watches the terrorist embrace his wife. Saul is homesick and begs to be far away from the “graveyard of empires.”
“Redux” features some of Patinkin’s best work in a while, as he is held prisoner by an indubitable force. The dinner conversation between Saul and Haqqani felt a bit too reminiscent of prior debates the former had with Pakistani officials earlier this season. “You have taught an entire generation to live with one foot in the afterlife,” Saul spits at Haqqani, only to see the man shrug his shoulders. On the bright side, Saul’s proclamation of being a Jew, which is no simple thing to say in front of a villain with immense power over him, was funny and ended the scene on a jarring note.
It was just one of many jolting moments in this terrific hour of Homeland, one trembling with suspense and surprise. With Lockhart’s smug but stoic return to the helm and Carrie out on a whim, this is a return to form for the inconsistent thriller. “Dysfunction does not begin to describe the magnitude of the problem here,” the CIA director says in one of “Redux”’s most memorable lines. As Carrie would know, dysfunction (of the mental variety) is the perfect way to describe just where her issues are coming from. Thankfully, the show’s writers’ room is not behaving with as much lack of control as in weeks past.