Homeland, Season 3: Episode 7 – “Gerontion”
Written by Chip Johannessen
Directed be Carl Franklin
Airs Sunday nights at 9 on Showtime
Having passed over the halfway point of the season and looking at the state of Homeland last week, “Gerontion” is a great look at what an individual episode of this series can do when it is playing to its strengths. This is a case of one of those “not a lot happens” episodes, but it embraces Mandy Patinkin’s Saul as its main character – which has been the case more so than not this season – and lets him go to town. There’s a brief reference again to Carrie’s pregnancy, which is still a problem as a plot point, but the writers take a very hands-off approach to developing that in favor of letting Carrie stew over the information Javadi gives both her and Saul, individually, about Brody not being responsible for the Langley bombing. Carrie doesn’t get much to do in “Gerontion,” but the way she tries to keep her curiosity in check is a nice reminder of the still-absent Brody. The only thematically meaty scene that Carrie is involved in occurs late in the episode after Quinn has been talking to local law enforcement about the murders that Javadi commits. Quinn confesses to keep the information about Javadi’s presence in the country a secret, and he’s not going to be in any kind of legal danger because of his innocence, but he admits to Carrie: wrong crime, right guy. Quinn is done with all of this CIA stuff, he says, but Carrie lures him back in – just like Saul is able to lure Carrie back in to certain jobs based on the foundations of their relationship.
Saul’s hardly the bad guy in “Gerontion,” though, after the writing has kind of been toying with his character by asking if the ends justify the means. No, here Saul is legendary, the biggest case in point is how he locks in Senator Lockhart so that he can’t contact the White House before Javadi’s plane back to Tehran takes off. It’s a weird juvenile, comedic scene given how serious Homeland usually takes itself, but it works perfectly because of how much of an ass Lockhart is. After, Saul and Dar share a drink (looks like a whisk(e)y, and I’d peg those guys as bourbon men) to celebrate one of the few victories Saul has been given this season. Dar’s still a character masked in uncertainty who needs to do something interesting to justify his presence in the main cast, but it’s better to see him on team Saul than butting heads with the Bear.
Back home, Saul wraps his arms around Mira, who has been cheating on him with that guy we were briefly introduced to. It would be a shame if that part of the plot becomes bigger than it needs to be and has effects on Saul’s abilities at the CIA, and that the episode ends on that note is a bit of a worry. What it helps with, at the very least, is to remind us of the other half of what Quinn is going through: you can go through these ordeals, struggle and come up on top (even if you lose some things in the process), or you can let it get the better of you and become completely disillusioned. Maybe it’s Saul’s age that keeps him going; whatever the case, it’s nice to see a rough, complicated marriage that hasn’t let the distance crush both parties.
– Sean Colletti