Picking up right where we left off in “The Yoga Play,” “Still Positive” takes great pains to add some definition to the season and set us on the course to the eventual endgame. Unfortunately all “Still Positive” does is demonstrate the follies of making up a show as you go. Not everyone can be Vince Gilligan, especially when your show is about spies, and dependent on twists. There’s still a lot of meat to this episode though, and where the writers fail at developing the plot they succeed at developing Saul, and finally stripping away his layers.
After Carrie is captured by Javadi at the end of “The Yoga Play” she quickly turns the tables on him, revealing what the CIA knows about his theft of 45 million dollars from the Iranian guard. This spooks Javadi into surrendering himself to the CIA, but not before he brutally murders his ex-wife and daughter-in-law, who are living in the same city (we saw Javadi monitoring them in the previous episode).
“How’d he react when you dropped the hammer on him?”
The big reveal in “Still Positive” is that Carrie is pregnant! Seems she has a drawer full of positive pregnancy tests results. I call bullshit on this just like I did for the twist at the end of “Game On.” This pregnancy thing comes out of nowhere roughly in the middle of the episode and is very clearly the writers trying to trick us. Carrie can’t be pregnant with Brody’s baby because they haven’t had sex in four months and there’s no way a real pregnancy would go unnoticed at the mental hospital. I don’t know why she has the tests, but I wager my reputation that it’s not because she’s pregnant.
Javadi is the other major concern for me in this episode. It’s a good idea to not drag out Carrie being a double agent, and an ever better idea to bring Javadi and Saul into a confrontation as early as possible. The pacing of this episode reminded me of early in season two, specifically “New Car Smell,” which was one of last season’s best episodes. Though I enjoy the pacing, I don’t enjoy Javadi as a character. There are too many holes in his personality for me to care, and these holes reveal just how much of the show the writers are making up on the spot.
In this episode Saul talks at length about how Javadi doesn’t take risks, and how stubborn he is, but he stole $45 million from the Iranian Guard and came all the way to America just to meet Carrie. Both of those things are incredibly risky. And then Javadi hunts down his ex-wife and brutally slays her. The scene where he does it (with the end of a broken bottle) and where Quinn and Carrie catch him is thrilling stuff, but none of it jives with what I knew of Javadi. Instead of revealing more about him, and making him more menacing, the “Homeland” writers character assassinate him.
“It’s a fucking bloodbath Saul”
The one man who has thankfully escaped character assassination so far is Saul. I thought he was going to be the first one to go after that god awful scene in “Uh.Oh.Aw.” and the reveal of his and Carrie’s plan, but his simmering anger in this episode, which is gloriously released with a swift punch to Javadi’s face once they have him in custody, shaded Saul in just the right way. Now that he’s the director of the CIA he’s had to do some terrible things, making decisions he always knew he could make but didn’t think he would ever have to. Saul could have easily been turned into the anti-hero of this season, but thankfully the way the writers are pitching it and the way that Mandy Patinkin is selling it never turns Saul into such a black and white character.
“I know what you’re thinking.” “No you don’t.”
All in all “Still Positive” is a pretty good episode, and definitely the best of the season so far. I’m still not convinced that the writers have a solid end game in mind, and I don’t believe that “Homeland” will ever be as good as it was. If this season follows through on everything laid out in this episode though, things should turn out alright.
My Rating: 7.5/10