If, like Quinn says, confession is indeed good for the soul, then I’d like to get this off my chest: This show has become a mess, and tonight’s hour proved just how much of a mess it’s made for itself. For one thing, this episode — titled “Gerontion,” but more on that later — neglected almost all plot and character development, and instead distilled the story down to a series of redundant interrogation scenes with characters confronting each other. Quinn vs. the police. Carrie vs. Javadi. Saul vs. Mira. Saul vs. Dar. Saul vs. Lockhart. Saul vs. Javadi.
Saul, Saul, Saul.
It’s a Saul-heavy episode (and a Dana-free one) that tries to tone down the action and focus on Saul’s character, but the writing is too clumsy to make all of this work. Yes, every show, every story needs a conflict, but Homeland chose to show conflicts by using blunt “Q&A” style confrontation scenes, and dialogue that repeated much of what the audience has already learned. It’s not working.
Why? Because by the end, we have no idea who to root for. By stripping Saul down to make him seem like an acting CIA director in over his head who would use juvenile techniques like locking a senator inside a conference room, the show leaves us with the impression that Saul actually does not know what he’s doing. And because of how implausible much of what comes out of Saul’s mouth ends up sounding, we’re losing sight of who to root for: Should we be cheering on the CIA? Should we only be cheering on Carrie, who gets barely a handful of scenes tonight? Should we be thinking about Quinn? Or should we start siding with Lockhart, because he seems more logical with every passing second? What is the point of Dar Adal again?
I know not everyone had qualms with the believability of the twists that have happened this season, but to me, piling them on has only made the show lose sight of what it set out to do in the first place: Tell the story of a bipolar CIA agent who’s doing her best to save the country. Carrie’s mission right now may be to exact revenge on whoever bombed the CIA, but the audience is being pulled in at least a dozen other directions with the plot.
It’s one thing to keep the audience guessing; it’s another to simply toss story lines at the audience and see what will stick.
NEXT: “That’s classified.”