'Homeland': Is Saul Reliving the Past or Making Way For the Future?

Tracy Letts F. Murray Abraham and Mandy Patinkin in Homeland Gerontion

[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]


Saul Berenson has been a man with a mission with regard to season 3 of Homeland. In addition to colluding with his protégé Carrie in a risky endeavor to lure out Majid Javadi that required she not only be thrown under the bus in front of a Senate committee, but also be remanded back into a psychiatric facility – where she was likely given copious amounts of Thorazine while hiding the fact that she was pregnant – Saul has made it his mission to generate some kind of positive change before his time at the head of the CIA comes to an end.

But no matter what he does, there's a pervasive sense that Saul is clinging to a notion of spycraft that is antiquated, unproductive and, at best, nostalgic – at least that’s how Senator Lockhart continues to see the man he's about to replace. "It's the curse of old men to realize we control nothing," Saul says, and yet as he turns his nemesis Majid Javadi into one of the most prized assets in the CIA's control, the moment feels both like a victory in Saul's effort to move forward and a potentially fruitless effort to bring back the old school ways of doing things in the intelligence community.

So far this season, Homeland has been struggling to define itself and its storyline following the Langley bombing. This is partially due to the persistent desire to keep the door open for an arc involving Nicholas Brody and his family. While the first and only time we've seen Brody this season resulted in an intriguing, but discordant excursion to Venezuela, the larger narrative surrounding the Brody family and Dana's decision to leave it has largely fallen flat. But now we are beginning to see the sparks of what this show could be if only it were able to finally put the Brody storyline to rest and move forward with exploring other facets of the intelligence community, and focus more time on characters like Peter Quinn and Dar Adal.

Claire Danes in Homeland Gerontion

Last season, following the introduction of Dar Adal, I expressed a desire to see Homeland focus more of the narrative on the two elder statesmen of the CIA, as they combated present day foes, while wistfully recalling the glory days of the Cold War. To a certain extent, 'Gerontion' – while recalling the particularly relevant poem by T.S. Elliot, from which the episode gets its title – succeeds in giving the audience a glimpse of what that kind of storyline might look like. And after Lockhart's forced timeout in a conference room becomes one of the most lively and entertaining moments the series has had so far this season, it's hard to argue against a narrative like this becoming Homeland's future.

But to get there, the show needs to first resolve the lingering threads of Brody's storyline, and that's where Carrie comes in. Now that Saul is operating with a little more transparency, hopefully the two threads can come together and provide the series an opportunity to tell the kind of story it normally excels at.


Homeland continues next Sunday with 'A Red Wheelbarrow' @9pm on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

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