After last week’s surprise ending, where we learned about Carrie and Saul’s two-person undercover operation, “The Yoga Play” couldn’t go back to the shock well again. Thus we have a more relaxed (and meandering) episode this week, one that’s more focused on character and (hopefully) wrapping up dud storylines.
We finally get a glimpse of the terrorist du saison, Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub), who cuts quite a different figure from the deceased Abu Nazir. In keeping with the third season’s focus on the white-collar aspect of terrorism, Javadi comes across as a baddie with soft hands, someone who has a white-shoe law firm on retainer, is rarely seen out of a suit, and for whom burger juice on his button-down is always a first-priority problem. And the tall, thin, neat-looking Javadi doesn’t just strike a different visual note from the Nazir: Saul theorized last week that the second-in-command in the Iranian intelligence agency is less motivated by ideology than by money. (Insert joke about wanting some cheddar to go with that burger.) If he’s already filched $45 million from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, though, it’s unclear thus far why he ordered the Langley bombing, unless it’s to prove his anti-American bona fides.
Carrie spent most of “The Yoga Play” trying to further lure Javadi and worrying she’d be “made.” She takes one big, unnecessary risk: approaching FBI Agent Hall (Billy Smith) to ensure Dana’s safety at the behest of Jess. (To quickly summarize this mess: the writers wanted to connect the Brody family’s troubles to the rest of the show, so they made Dana’s new boyfriend into a killer, mercifully ending Dana and Leo’s Wild Ride.)
It was strange seeing Quinn’s addition to the two-member team, not so much plot-wise — it’d make sense for Carrie not to be in constant contact with the Acting Director of the CIA — but character-wise. As a highly skilled black-ops agent, Quinn’s moment as a character came and went when he stabbed a handcuffed Brody in the hand during an interrogation (per Saul’s orders) last year. Since then, he’s been a bit too domesticated. I mean, okay, he shot a kid in the season premiere, but now he’s back to puppy-dogging after Carrie and paternally worrying about her when even Saul’s over it.
And Papa Bear’s shrug of “She’s always been on her own” upon being informed of Carrie’s kidnapping/next step in the sting didn’t ring entirely true, not when we saw how scary it really was. When Javadi’s henchman break into Carrie’s house, it’s unclear what their intentions are:
marry, fuck, kill, or take. The suggestion of impending rape — Carrie intimidated into silent tears, her clothes ripped off her body, her terrified and terrifyingly vulnerable nakedness – was a tad gratuitous, but only a tiny bit. If she were “made” by Javadi (an unlikely scenario given the latter’s importance to the season), she’d definitely be assassinated — at least. And seeing Claire Danes naked, shivering, and crying in a corner was frightening to behold, no matter the outcome.
But Javadi’s goons turn out to be gentlemen (relatively speaking), ultimately giving Carrie a track-suit to her midnight meeting with their boss. At least it’s in formal black.
While Carrie sat around like a sitting duck for Javadi’s men to abduct her, Saul goes duck-hunting with Senator Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts), the blowhard who’s been accusing of the CIA of letting the Langley bombing happen to them. As the spy agency’s biggest critic, the political opportunist uses his soapbox to finagle a new job as the CIA’s new head — news that he drops on a now-lame duck Saul. Lockhart calls for an end to “old games… double sources, coat-trailing, stimulated defections,” calling them unreliable. To be fair, he has a point. It wasn’t any of those techniques, but years of extensive surveillance and deduction, that helped catch Osama bin Laden, as well as clue Saul and Fara into Javadi’s financial shenanigans in Columbia. Lockhart’s views on old-fashioned espionage means, though, that Carrie and Saul’s undercover operation has a deadline of two weeks — the amount of time Saul has left as Acting Director.
Let’s hope they make the best of it.