‘Homeland’ Review: “Still Positive”
On tonight’s all-new episode of ‘Homeland,’ Carrie gets the upper-hand with Javadi and has a pretty startling revelation, while Dana makes a huge decision that could change her family’s life. Meanwhile, Saul continues to repress his feelings in the pursuit of his narrow-minded revenge mission, but how much longer can he maintain control with Lockhart right at his heels?
What is the deal with Saul? Here is a man who, last season, shared an incredibly poignant moment with a woman and then watched, horrified, as she killed herself. He’s a man who used to defend and protect Carrie from those who didn’t understand her but took advantage of her anyway, and now he’s become the kind of guy who will use her just the same if it means getting the revenge he desperately wants. “Still Positive” tries to help us understand why Saul has it out so badly for Javadi — Fara walks in on him arranging some photographs, and we learn that Saul once trusted this man, who claimed he would help safely relocate some Iranian fugitives, but instead ended up giving them each a bullet to the head. Javadi, once an asset, turned and became a terrorist, and eventually turned so far that he became an enemy of his own state. So Saul sent Javadi’s wife, Fariba, to the US to live in witness protection, and has been trying to find Javadi to exact his revenge ever since — only now, that need for revenge has intensified since Javadi orchestrated the Langley bombing. It does seem like some late-breaking exposition, and I’m not sure that Saul plays the role of a stoic Captain Ahab very well. He shuts off all feeling, stays focused entirely on work, and so it’s no surprise when Mira admits she still has feelings for the man she met while she was away. Saul can hardly bring himself to react because to him, all of this was and is inevitable, and all that matters to him now is his work — the work that he’s very close to losing when Lockhart takes his position at the head of the CIA.
“Still Positive” tries to make us empathize with Saul, but it’s hard when Carrie and Quinn bust in on Javadi, who has just murdered his daughter-in-law and ex-wife (the latter in a cruelly horrific manner), and Saul tells them to leave Javadi’s toddler grandson there, alone, until the cops eventually show up. We understand that the CIA needs Javadi. We understand that they can’t work with the cops on this because they’ll lose the asset. But Saul’s motivations are so driven by stone cold revenge, and it goes against so much of what we’ve known about his character in seasons one and two. But I think it also works in Saul’s favor because we know that he does have a huge heart, and people with feelings that deep (ahem, Carrie) are so easy to go off into the deep end.
And now that Saul has Javadi in custody (thanks to some quick thinking on Carrie’s part) and he’s given him a solid knock in the face, we can get to more of the good stuff. Javadi is a scary guy because he’s very formal and reserved, but can jolt you with a shock of unexpected violence, like shooting his daughter-in-law in the head, and robotically stabbing his ex-wife in the neck with a broken bottle. The most terrifying people don’t huff and puff, they just take the damn house down effortlessly. Javadi pulls the trigger as if it were nothing more than brushing a crumb off of his nice suit.
Over at the Brody house, Dana has decided to legally take her mother’s maiden name and move out of the house. There are a lot of complicated feelings involved here — it is selfish for Dana to abandon her family when they are suffering as much as she is, but it’s understandable in a sense. She may not be able to save the boat, and maybe the people still on the boat have found a way to stay there, but she can grab a life raft and save herself if she believes that’s what’s required. The big issue with the whole Brody household story (aside from the fact that Chris is basically a ghost child at this point) is that we’re seeing so much of it from Dana’s point of view this season. Mike occasionally pops up to remind us that Jessica is still engaged in that relationship, and Chris smiles at Dana sometimes to remind us that Jess has another kid (a result of over-writing, which is like over-budgeting for characters, I guess?). Maybe now with Dana away, we can spend some more time with Jess and see how she’s really handling all of this. Or maybe we’ll take a much-needed break from Casa Del Brody.
But let’s talk about the big surprise this week, and the reason for the episode’s title: Carrie’s pregnant! This could really go just about any way, but the idea that she would keep the baby and try to be a pregnant spy seems absurd. Either way, Carrie has some tough choices to make, and little time to make them since Saul will barely give her and Quinn time to take a sip of coffee before it’s back to work. What’s interesting about this revelation is that it hardly feels like the huge moment that it should be, or probably would be on any other dramatic series. Instead, it’s just another thing that’s happening on the periphery of the action, just another thing Carrie has to deal with. And it also sounds like it has the makings of a network cop dramedy, “She’s a pregnant CIA agent with bipolar disorder who tossed out her meds, she’s got a gun, and she’s our nation’s only hope. Coming this Fall to ABC!”