Well that was fantastic. Ever since Carrie broke Brody back in the middle of Season 2, it has felt like there was a void in the center of Homeland where we missed a conflict between two personalities that was so entertaining, we could forgive the out-of-this-world plot twists and contrivances that they would use against one another. For the first 1.5 seasons of Homeland, it was all about Carrie and Brody, but the will-they-or-will-they-more tension has finally been replaced in the middle of Season 3 with a far more sedate pissing contest between old men. But the plot elements it introduces are more than welcome—they are riveting. Last week, Saul brought in Javadi for a little “break” from his time of being an Iranian spook charged with funding terrorism, but who ultimately has ended up funding himself with $50 million of government money. Saul and Javadi go way back, and despite the actors never previously having shared the screen before, this Glen-vadi and Glenn-Saul rapport is both authentic and deeply entertaining. Both have an air of disdain for the other—dating back to at least 1976 when as “allies” “allies” Javadi said that Saul would not last as a spy—but it is masked by a curious sense of respect. To steal a line from another premium cable Sunday night juggernaut this season, “Only kings can understand each other.” Of course, Saul and Javadi are not kings, but rather behind-the-scenes spooks and patriots with complimentary pools of bottomless utilitarianism. It is why Saul, recognizing another pragmatist, can even smile and take marital advice from a man who just brutally murdered his ex-spouse…an old friend of Saul’s who the American had spirited out of Iran to the free West back in 1980. It is a fascinating give-and-take to witness between the two vets, particularly because Mandy Patinkin has not been able to play Saul this lively since he first discovered that Brody was a traitor. His revulsion for a man who would murder an ex-wife with a bottle is curiously intertwined with his mystification for the fellow pragmatist’s bizarrely random religious fanaticism, and his equally calm acceptance of this turn of events (of being Saul’s newest asset). It is so interesting that one can forgive the writers of Homeland for reusing the same potentially dippy twist from the mid-section of Season 2 where the CIA has one of the biggest threats to national security dead to rights and in the belly of their beast…only to release him as a newly acquired stooge. However, Saul’s reasoning is far more intriguing this year. Instead of using Brody as a remarkably potent lure for Abu Nazir, he wants Javadi to be the CIA’s “man” inside the Iranian government, one that is so highly placed that the U.S. would have a foot hold in the decision-making and secrecy of a foreign power that President George W. Bush once dubiously dubbed as party to the “Axis of Evil.” This fiction created for the show is a tantalizing aspect, and when Saul suggests that he and Javadi will have the opportunity to shape world events and change the attitudes of the Middle East, it is both ludicrous, but oh, so enticing. Yet, I must wonder how this shift can come about, considering that Saul is all but terminated from the CIA in 10 days. Particularly in this episode where Saul does a superb job of antagonizing his soon-to-be boss Senator McSnotty (do we really need to know this caricature’s name?). Already pleased as peach to soon be confirmed as CIA director, thereby knocking Saul and his “Cold War bullshit” down to ashes, the elected official has no trouble getting Dar Adal to summon Saul for a late night chat in Langley where Saul painstakingly spills the beans that he used the senator’s subcommittee as a hook to bait Carrie in front of Javadi. Given how cruel Dar Adal has been this season to Carrie, and how vindictive McSnooty is to both Saul and his protégé, seeing their astonishment is a feather in the cap for any viewer. But the real surprise is not what Saul does to protect his operation, but what Dar does. When the senator learns that Javadi is in the country, he demands to have him arrested before he can leave, believing turning him into a CIA asset is recklessly dangerous. And honestly, I think he has a point. Nonetheless, Saul (and the writers) uses this as a chance to get on his soap box about the importance of old school intelligence gathering in the face of acrimony from bleeding hearts or worse, know-it-alls married to their drone strikes. Despite Javadi being responsible for the death over 200 Langley personnel on 12/12, and murdering his ex-wife and daughter-in-law earlier that afternoon, Saul is positive that Javadi can be trusted and protects his new asset by locking his future boss and sitting U.S. senator in the conference room. That is a HELLUVA two-weeks notice resignation. Better still, Dar, the guy who murdered Mozart in most viewers’ eyes, sides with Saul and leaves the incoming CIA director locked and trapped until Javadi is out-of-the-country. Wow. Talk about a good day’s work. Saul even celebrates by taking his old buddy Javadi’s advice about still being married in the eyes of God seriously when he goes home to fight for his marriage. I think it is a lost cause, as we viewers at home saw that she cheated on him again, but it is great to see Papa Bear Saul finally stretch out those claws against his intended enemies. It was such a terrifically twisted episode (in more ways than one), I can even forgive that Carrie has been given little to do this week. I glossed over her pregnancy in my review of last week, because I assumed that it would be built upon tonight beyond that one scene, but alas, her baby drama is still under the rug. Perhaps this is because Carrie will ignore the problem until she goes into labor? She has the remarkable ability to ignore things she does not want to see, such as Brody’s potential culpability. This week, what little Carrie was able to do was to first facilitate talks between the D.C. police and Peter Quinn, and then escort Javadi to his plane. Javadi uses the opportunity to needle Carrie with the knowledge that he can confirm Brody didn’t place the bomb that blew up Langley. He does not know who did, which keeps the Internet flame of a mole alive, however I think that plot thread is a dead end. The only character worth a damn to reveal as a mole would be Saul, and despite his apparent newfound religious fervor for marriage, the red herring is too obvious (much like his failing the lie detector test in Season 1). Dar Adal could conceivably also be the mole, thereby explaining why he sided with Saul just long enough to put the hit on Javadi when he gets home to Iran, but even that I find unlikely because…it’s Salieri! Please, continue subverting expectations with that casting. Plus, he was not in Season 1 to know about Carrie and Saul’s little “To-Catch-a-Brody” operation. No, this is another red herring that simply establishes that Brody perhaps did hand off the keys to the bombing. I don’t believe that either, and if I’m unconvinced, Carrie surely will be. But it does demonstrate Javadi is still trying to needle and manipulate even though he is supposedly beaten. The other key moment is Peter Quinn admitting to the D.C. police that he “killed” Javadi’s victims. It is a chance for the show to give a counterpoint to Saul’s zealousness about the good of spy games. After all, they just let a man who brutally murdered two innocent women get on a plane and return to his undoubtedly comfortable luxury life while good(-ish) man Peter has to take the blame for murder. He is only protected by the simple fact that the deaths were classified under “national security.” Peter, and the viewers, is then justifiably asked what good can the CIA really ever be in the face of such monstrosity? Chances are that the show will affirm just such a query when Saul’s plan has at least some partial success, if only to separate it from the wonky CIA-goes-boom Season 2 finale. In any case, it has definitely proven good for awesome television. This is the Homeland that I remember, now. Also, where are the Brodys? Oh never mind, the show is finally firing on all cylinders again. Den of Geek Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!