Image credit: Kent Smith/Showtime
BEARD VS. BEARD After watching Saul (Mandy Patinkin) confront black ops svengali Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) at the latter's favorite waffle spot, I've begun fantasizing about a spin-off series that's just these two men touring greasy spoons across our fair land — kind of like that 2011 Steve Coogan/Rob Brydon film The Trip, but with way more growling.
Saul and Dar Adal started up with the kind of small talk only old CIA spooks could enjoy, reminiscing about the comforting tidiness of the Cold War, where one could live at a fixed address and not fear reprisals. "I miss the rules," Dar Adal groused. "The Soviets didn't shoot us; we didn't shoot them. Boy, this bunch..." (This should have been your first warning, Saul, to keep an eye out on Carrie and Brody.) But soon enough, Saul charged into the purpose of his visit with his characteristic bull-headedness, asking Dar Adal point blank about Peter Quinn. Pissed off to be questioned like this, Dar Adal returned the favor, bluntly admitting Quinn was one of his, an off-the-books black ops "soldier" — a word that Saul knew immediately meant "killer" even after Dar Adal tried to back away from it with talk of soldiers fixing airplane engines and cooking bad food. (Yeah, I don't think that's what your black ops boys have been doing.) So Dar Adal tried a different tactic, pointing out that Quinn's presence may be more about keeping an eye on Saul. "Why wouldn't [Estes] trust me?" Saul asked with that leading tone of his. Instead of answering, Dar Adal turned back to his waffles, already tired of this conversation. "Still afraid to get your hands dirty, Saul?" he asked. "I still prefer to figure the problem out, not obliterate it," Saul responded, matching patronizing tone for patronizing tone. "You're too sensitive for this line of work," sniffed Dar Adal. "You always have been. I'm amazed you've lasted this long."
This conversation prefaced an entire hour that explored just what getting one's hands dirty can mean, but I think it was prophetic beyond this episode. Saul has always been mindful of snagging just enough of others' dirty laundry to keep himself clean. But when he threatened Estes with the (entirely accurate) accusation that Quinn was meant to kill off Brody to keep the civilian drone strike that killed Issa secret, Saul very well may have pushed things too far. (Dangling thread #2: Do all CIA agents have highly sensitive conversations in the middle of huge empty hallways?) That polygraph test Saul took last season — the one meant to determine who allowed a captured terrorist to kill himself, the one Saul initially failed before taking it again and passing — has never been resolved. Regardless of whether Saul was actually lying or not, it's a piece of suspiciously soiled laundry with his name on it, and as Saul was hauled "downstairs" for "questioning" by mysterious unnamed persons, I wondered if Estes had been holding onto it for just the right moment.
Dar Adal's words may have carried another, more chilling prognostication: What if Nicholas Brody isn't the only character to be 86'd this season?
NEXT PAGE: The Brody's come together in mutual misery