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Homeland Recap: What On Earth Is Up With Saul?

You’d think a couple of months after the worst terrorist attack on US soil since 9/11, the Acting Director of the CIA might have some kind of security detail guarding his home, but apparently not. We open with a hypo-manic Carrie Mathison knocking on Saul’s door. Mira answers and tells Carrie that Saul went in early to a meeting. Mira is all like “what’s up with the two of you?”

Carrie is dumbstruck for a moment, like maybe she’s thinking “did you forget to pay your cable bill? Did you not watch your husband in front of God and Country and the Senate Committee selling me down the river?”

We cut to CIA headquarters (the part that wasn’t blown up) where Saul and Quinn are meeting with Fara, a beautiful Farsi speaking banking expert whom Saul later describes to Dar as “a kid with a headscarf.”

About that headscarf, it seems to come as something of a shock to Quinn and Saul, as though they’d never seen one before or are surprised that a Farsi speaking banking analyst might be of the Muslim persuasion. It’s her eighth day on the job, and she’s there to go through some of the intel, including the stuff Quinn collected from his mission. Saul is looking for an Iranian connection, something leading back to The Magician, this season’s new bugaboo. Quinn is hoping that whatever he got will prove important, given that he killed a child getting it.

Saul has yet another conversation with Dar, in which Dar advocates destroying Carrie to save the agency. Dar tells Saul that Carrie is meeting a reporter and she’s going to tell her side, but Dar is going to stop her. Saul doesn’t say anything, which seems like tacit approval, which especially chilling as Dar doesn’t say *how* he’s going to stop her. If we hadn’t seen Dar interacting with characters other than Saul, I would be theorizing that he’d died in the explosion, and this was actually Head-Dar, Saul’s dark passenger personified.

Carrie gets taken away by the Metro Police. She winds up in an emergency room. At least she wasn’t renditioned to Abu Ghraib or sent to Guantanamo, right? I mean this isn’t like the old Soviet Union where they sent dissidents to mental hospitals. Or is it?
It’s easy to understand how Carrie might appear in need of hospitalization, especially when she talks about how the CIA is out to get her and she’s the only one who got it right, and she can’t be on her meds because then she won’t see it.

Jess and Dana are back at the facility for troubled teens, which is much nicer than Carrie’s visit to the ER. They’re getting some follow up counseling. Dana tells the counselor that her mother remodeled the bathroom. Jess denies this. Dana is all “yes you did” while Jess is like “no, I didn’t.” This goes on and on until Jess admits she couldn’t get the blood out of the grout, so she had to replace everything, which isn’t the same thing at all, and she did it all by herself, from a book.

And there you have it folks. Everything you need to know about why Dana would have needed a lifetime of therapy even if her father hadn’t been a terrorist.

On the way out, Dana and Leo spot each other and mouth sweet nothings before Jess drags Dana outside.

Carrie is rocking a hospital gown, handcuffed to a gurney. The psychiatrist comes over to explain that there will be a commitment hearing the next day. He asks her why she’s not on her meds. Carrie talks about how she’s running, and singing and meditating to stay calm. The shrink asks, “and are you calm?”

Carrie replies that given that she’s strapped to a gurney she’s “fucking Zen.”

By the time you read this, someone will have posted a clip of that exchange on Youtube, entitled it “Homeland The Situation Comedy,” and added a laugh track, but it will still be very sad.

Over at the CIA, Fara hasn’t yet managed to connect the dots to Iran. Saul is impatient, and tells her that the thing on her head is a fuck you to all her colleagues both alive and blown to bits, and she better be the best banking analyst ever, and come up with a plan.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking “what the fuck!!?” Is this supposed to be a clue that all the pressure has gotten to him? Because this sure as shit does not sound like the Saul Berenson we know and love. Who is this guy?

That evening Dana sneaks out to see Leo at the home for very attractive troubled teens. Leo has to let her in because the doors are locked, and there doesn’t seem to be any staff at night, which is kind of strange seeing how there are all those suicidal teens staying there. It must be Obamacare.

They’re in the laundry room and immediately get naked and start having sex, with no preambles like those awkward discussions about condoms, because this is Showtime, not ABC-Family, and if these kids played it safe, they wouldn’t be having sex in the laundry room of the home for very attractive troubled teens in the first place.

It’s a lot like when Carrie and Brody had their first sexual healing session which shouldn’t surprise us, as this season the writers are not exactly being subtle about the whole Dana-is-a-lot-like-Carrie thing.

The next morning, those two crazy kids wake up together in a pile of sheets.. Dana snaps a picture of of them smiling in each other’s arms. You might think they’d be all uh-oh, we better get out of here before someone discovers us, but they’re just chilling, and seem genuinely shocked when guards come through the door.

Back at Carrie’s hearing, which happens at the hospital because that’s how it’s done in real life, Quinn shows up to act as a character witness because he’s a stand up guy. This is despite Carrie’s having told him to stay away. Her father and sister arrive, only they aren’t all “we’ll support you no matter what.” They know she spoke to a reporter about CIA secrets and is off her meds. Carrie figures out that Saul got to them. Her face changes from defiance to desperation, and she tries to run out, struggling with the guards at the door and shouting, “this is a fucking sham!”

That might have been the twentieth f-bomb dropped. I haven’t heard the word used this much in a single hour of television since The Sopranos went off the air.

Over at the CIA, a New York banker is meeting with Fara and Saul. Saul wants to know about the “real” wire transfers – the ones that mention Iran – as opposed to the phony ones with fake names. After the banker denies and denies, Saul hands him a copy of an e-mail he sent explicitly telling his underlings to lie about the transactions. The attorney gets all indignant and wants to know how the CIA got a hold of his client’s e-mail because maybe in the Homeland version of America, the CIA doesn’t spy on everyone, or maybe the banker is an arrogant dick who in any version of America wouldn’t believe the CIA would spy on him.

Fara then goes off all Persian Julia Sugarbaker on him and says, “your client has been funding attacks against our country and all you want to know is how did we found out?” That’s only the beginning. She goes on from there, castigating the bank’s history of profiting off of human misery. It’s a beautiful speech, but more one you’d expect from an occupy activist, not a CIA analyst.
Instead of being shamed into folding, the banker and the lawyer walk out, but not before saying some especially dickish and condescending stuff to her.

Later Quinn asks Saul if he’s heard back from the bankers. Saul’s only heard from 32 members of congress, upset with him for upsetting bankers. Quinn then tells Saul about Carrie’s hearing. He’s not pleased that the CIA is driving her crazy. Saul answers with one of those “it’ll all be worth it in the end” speeches. You know when any character ever says it will all be worth it in the end, it won’t. Quinn is not happy.

Later we see the banker leaving a fine dining establishment. Quinn come up alongside of him and mentions the recent death of the banker’s colleague who was gunned down last week with his son, and how it was a horrible mistake he hopes won’t be repeated. Dick Dickhead looks like he’s ready to shit his pants, but Quinn’s not finished. He continues, “I try very hard to be patient with venal shitheads like you, but I can only do it so long. Have a nice flight home.”

The next day, Fara has all the records organized on a bulletin board. She’s telling Saul that Iran was involved inside the government, and there’s about 45 million dollars that seems to have disappeared. Saul believes the money will be the key. Neither she nor Saul know why the banker decided to cooperate, but Saul is happier than we’ve seen him so far.

You know who’s not happy? Carrie. She’s strapped down in restraints and they’re about to shoot her up with thorazine. Thorazine is an old-line scary-scary anti-psychotic med with some really hideous side effects, and they don’t use it all that much anymore, and rarely on someone like Carrie who is mostly presenting as agitated with a history of mania. And yes, your humble recapper actually used to be a mental health professional, and unlike whoever wrote the episode, is not making this stuff up after watching “Gothika.”

While Carrie isn’t happy, her character-twin, Dana, is very happy. She tells her mother that she did want to die, but she doesn’t anymore. She wants to be alive and she isn’t crazy and Jess isn’t crazy either. The only crazy one was Brody. He was a psycho who did nothing but lie to them. And Jess is actually able to hear this. Dana has lifted some of her mother’s pain. The kid is all right.

Later, Dana is alone, looking at old family photos and in the garage, and she finds the prayer rug she caught her dad using. She unrolls it and kneels down. It’s a strangely ambiguous moment. The music changes to something middle-easternish, and we’re left to interpret the meaning. Is she turning into a secret Muslim? Or is it something else? She looks a lot like someone doing yoga. She looks like she actually is calm. Despite the craziness around her, and unlike Carrie, Dana really is zen. Or maybe it’s just really great afterglow.

The final scene is Carrie’s. She’s in a common area in the hospital. There’s a television on, but she’s too zoned out to watch. Her mouth is moving strangely, a side effect from the meds. Saul sits down beside her. It’s a nice bookend to last week, which left us with Carrie watching Saul’s testimony on TV. Saul tells her he’s sorry. She looks at him, and we see that she’s still there. She struggles to get the words out of her dry mouth, to work her leaden tongue. It takes a while, but finally she says what she came to his house to tell him. “Fuck you, Saul.”

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Homeland

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  • Wasn’t Quinn sort of sinister last season? Like maybe he had a hidden agenda? And Saul was a good guy? And F. Murray Abraham was also sinister? I think they are wreaking havoc on the characters this season. At least Mrs. Brody still looks smoking hot.

  • Farb

    Gawd, this was a long article to read about a TV program. Couldn’t their have been, like, station breaks or something? I felt like I should be making a couple trips to the refrigerator.

  • Mojopo

    I’m having major problems with the way Saul has been written so far. It’s too much. I can suspend my disbelief and pretend the guv would consider closing the CIA (just barely), but turning Saul into an Islamophobe is a bridge too damn far. Didn’t Howard Gordon pull some crap like this when he was with The X-Files, and they made Scully give up her alien baby? Scully would never have given up her baby. Likewise, it’s impossible for Saul, under any circumstance, to come down like such a hard ass on a Muslim. Especially a woman! Who is this not-Saul, and where is the real Saul hiding?

  • Irene Robinson

    You’re a laff riot Marion! Obamacare cutbacks in the home for attractive, disturbed teens–hysterical! I just loved the scene with Quinn and the banker, the best in a long time. But Saul’s sudden change of personality is a little too hard to believe.