Clearly, I chose “Sitting Duck” a tad too early for a recap title. In “The Yoga Play,” we actually see characters hunting birds — geese, to be specific — which aren’t just used as an analogy in Saul’s dialogue, but are also representative of where Saul and Carrie have left themselves with their secret op.
After last week’s twist — which I was wary of, but many of you cheered even if it didn’t bring you fully back on board with the show — Saul and Carrie have been stepping lightly, waiting for Javadi to reach out and make good on the face-to-face meeting Carrie demanded. Quinn returned in tonight’s hour, and with him came old school Homeland, with a Virgil/Max/Carrie team-up that called back to the headstrong and confident first season Carrie. Too bad the moment’s short-lived, because Carrie’s sucked into a middling plot that involves Dana (sigh) and sneaking around surveillance, making the hour more a transition episode than anything else we’ve seen this season. Characters run around, seemingly pursuing and doing important things, but only the final 10 minutes matter.
Still, I enjoyed this episode because it provided a promising set-up (as well as a conclusion to a plot about teenagers and their Very Dumb Idea) along with some tense sequences. Of course, much of the episode felt unnecessary. The only forward motion stems from the introduction of Shaun Toub as an unnamed, mysterious man, who we all know has to be Javadi (not just because that’s how he’s listed on IMDb, but because, well, if the show didn’t introduce a face for Javadi by now, we’d probably lose complete interest in him as the Big Bad). He opens the episode, driving into the U.S. through the northern border. Sharply dressed and silver-tongued, he makes his way through Vermont, meets up with one of his men, who provides him with a new car, a credit card, and most interestingly, a gun which Javadi refuses to take. “No guns,” he states definitively, almost sneering at the thought of carrying the weapon. I might be reading too much into the choice, but it’s a compelling character trait for the man we’ve learned from Saul’s briefings was behind a bombing that killed 85 people, leads a worldwide operation that skimmed off $45 million in five years, and ordered the Langley attack. Is Javadi secretly a pacifist or simply trigger-averse? Who knows?
What we do know is that Javadi parks himself outside a suburban home and watches a woman carry a child indoors, while relishing an all-American sandwich. Some sauce (mayonnaise? mustard? Javadi, you mysterious man!) drips onto his shirt. Javadi scoffs, because stained shirts are no match for a man like Javadi. Javadi hates stained shirts. (Okay, sorry. Look, I’m working with very little here, considering how we barely know anything about this Big Bad other than the fact that he’s allegedly behind a laundry list of Terrible Things, and is now in the States. I might as well collect the facts as they’re presented on screen, right? Right.) He later arrives at a mansion, asks for a fresh shirt, and to see “the interview room.”
Leaving Javadi to his shirts and sandwiches, the episode moves on to Peter Quinn, resident hitman/hearings-spectator/threat-to-all-corrupt-lawyers, who visits Saul as he gears up to go on a hunting trip. Mira proudly announces that Saul is heading to the retreat to talk about becoming the director of the CIA. Quinn’s not as thrilled, instead keeping his steely gaze locked on Saul and deadpanning, “If I was a duck, I’d be worried.” Peter Quinn will be here all week, everybody.
Saul, wisely picking up on Quinn’s sass, pulls him aside to fill him in on what’s been going on, rehashing the specifics to remind the audience of the plan. Quinn is, however, hearing all this for the first time, so he’s understandably stunned, stammering,”You mean, burning her in front of the Senate, committing her to a mental institution — “
“All an act, part of the plan,” Saul replies.
“F–k me,” Quinn says, practically mirroring our response from last week. Saul tells Quinn everything’s going smoothly, which of course means it’s all going to go downhill from here.
…And it does.
NEXT: Dana and Leo’s — and our — joy(less)ride