Homeland recap: season three, episode seven – Gerontion

Javadi's murders reverberate, Quinn has fresh moral doubts and Mandy Patinkin brings new insights into Saul's past

SPOILER ALERT: This blog is for people watching the third series of Homeland at UK broadcast pace. Don't read on if you haven't seen episode seven – and if you've seen later episodes, please do not leave spoilers.

Catch up with previous episode blogposts

"Have you ever done anything but make things worse?"

It was the Saul show this week, with just a little room left for Quinn and Carrie. Mandy Patinkin is so wonderful to watch, and he proved himself more than capable of carrying the episode – we really got a sense of who he was as a young man, and who he is now, as an older, more contemplative, but perhaps no less ruthless, man.

We begin with the clear-up from Javadi's horrific double murder (thankfully, the recap kept the stabbing brief). The police have a photograph of Quinn from the neighbour's security camera, and despite Carrie's attempts to pull in a favour and brush it under the carpet, they want answers. So Quinn goes back to the scene of the crime and confesses to two murders he didn't commit – not just the CIA-style quick, silent shot to the head, but the brutal, repeated stabbing of a woman with a bottle. This is his penance for shooting a child in the head in episode one, but this scene also gave the anti-CIA detective character the chance to voice his doubts about the value of "national security". Quinn promptly has another moral wobble and retires from being a black ops spy assassin. Then goes straight back to it when Carrie asks him nicely.

But of course, this was all about Saul and Javadi. Saul persuades Javadi to work as a CIA asset within the Iranian government by threatening to blow the lid on his $50m embezzlement. There were a lot of still scenes, particularly during the interrogation, that were largely driven by dialogue – again, because it's Patinkin, this works beautifully. They have 35 years of bad blood to slug out. Saul tells Javadi that his bombing campaign was too small, and was beneath him. Javadi counters with an ace – the Langley bombing. After much back and forth, and against Lockhart's wishes, Javadi is finally sent back to Iran. Saul has decided not to seek instant retribution, but to play the long game, and to try to put a stop to the tit-for-tat war games once and for all.

For a second, on the runway, I thought Javadi was going to tell Carrie that Saul was behind the Langley bombing. When he said the bomber didn't die and that he's still in the country, I was ready for a big reveal. But it was his lawyer, if he is to be believed, and Quinn's on the case. This also means that Brody is cleared of any involvement, at least to Saul and now Lockhart; however, I'm not sure how the CIA can hold its hands up and say: "You know that senator-turned-terrorist? About that …"

Notes and observations

• Gerontion is a TS Eliot poem. With Breaking Bad also naming an episode after a poem (Shelley's Ozymandias), is this the new way for TV to prove its smarts?

• I thought Carrie was having a panic attack, but it was just a spot of morning sickness. I hope this pregnancy storyline doesn't end up being terrible, as I suspect it could be.

• Why was Javadi's ex-wife's neighbour filming their doorway?

• It was a small mention, but the police said they couldn't cover up the killing as an organisation such as Wikileaks would eventually reveal it.

• The detective calls the CIA's work "this shit that you people do"; Lockhart calls Saul's approach "cold-war bullshit". Safe to say it's having a few popularity issues lately.

• I quite enjoyed the farcical treatment of Senator Lockhart, even if I did feel as if I was watching The Expendables for a minute.

• Dar Adal called Fara "that headscarf". Did we need that again?

• In the interrogation house, Fara was hovering over some correction fluid, a ruler and some scissors. Is that all it takes to make a spy kit these days?

• The episode ended with Van Morrison's Bye Bye Blackbird, but still no sign of the show's trademark jazz, other than the theme tune. Has Carrie given up on music completely?

Quote of the week

"It is the curse of old men to realise that in the end we control … nothing" – Saul


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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