FX has given us another serial killer to drool over. Whenever such men of violence are presented like Julian Carson is in the opening minutes of ‘The Old Man’s episode 3, the intrigue manifold increases. He is mild-mannered, confident about himself, and a charmer who can wriggle out of any situation just by talking.
We see him at a bus stop when Harold calls him over the phone. The continuity from the previous episode picks up as a cinematic scene would. Julian assists a woman in crutches to board the bus and is overheard talking to his mother over the phone before Harold.
Following the pattern in the previous episode, this time we see the first meeting between Dan and Faraz (played by Pej Vahad) in the flashback. The creator’s commitment to give the story a whole-roundedness by interspersing the present with flashbacks like these is admirable.
Hamzad is suspicious of Dan. Even though he wins Hamzad over when he reveals his plan to help him in the war against the Soviets, Hamzad presents another litmus test for him to pass through: his wife. Surprise, surprise; cue Abbey Chase walking in. This is probably why Hamzad had the grudge against Dan. The rebellious love has taken many a victim in cinema’s vast storytelling versions. Add Hamzad to the list.
Back at Zoe’s, things are about to get rough. Dan has that feeling where he feels she might be a trustworthy and valued ally. He tries to narrate his side of the story and the truth to her. The more Dan speaks, the less Zoe is convinced about him. And more terrified. She gives Dan a chance to leave before she comes back, or else she will call the cops.
One can imagine how someone in Zoe’s position would have reacted in real life. When you meet someone and feel that they’re the perfect partner for you, shocks like these can be heartbreaking. Despite that, she unleashes Dan’s dogs when she sees him struggling with another man – Julian. The dogs are able to save him once again as they pin Julian down and Dan shoots him. He also shoots down the drone that the CIA is using to survey the area in a stylish sequence.
In flashbacks, we see young Dan trying to convince Abbey about his motivations. She is the final hurdle he needs to clear to help Hamzad but she is still not convinced. Her view of Dan can be extrapolated to a larger view that most of these war-ravaged nations have against the US. Its chequered history in providing weapons and supporting a faction in the wars is well documented.
It comes out more strongly in the narration of her past, and how her perception of Americans changed from the hopeful faces of the young boys and girls from the pamphlets of the University of Ohio to the grunts and suave bureaucrats of the CIA. For her, Americans are of two types-the self-destructively naive one who is ready to commit to any cause to make it better, and the pragmatic monsters for whom no violence is unjustified, and right now she is unable to distinguish which of the two sides Dan is on.
“III” ENDING EXPLAINED:
An inter-agency war seems to have broken out between the FBI and the CIA. The agents from the agencies are at loggerheads. Harold and Angela see Waters as a Hamzad stooge, determined to needle and question the FBI at every turn. Maybe even botch the investigation to service his end of the spectrum.
As Waters tries to deny the allegations, Harper dismisses those denials while revealing the true reason behind Hamzad’s present revenge spree. We get the biggest reveal of the episode: Angela is Emily chase, Dan’s daughter. She has been working silently to help her father, without letting him know of her own identity. This completely changes the game as we have a sort of a triple-agent behind enemy lines. She intervenes in Harold and Waters’ dialogue, asking them to leave the reason why all of this is happening to Hamzad.
Alia Shawkat tremendously captures the internal strife within her as she plans to dance around and keep the relationship between her and both her father figures from imploding. The very final scene does not give us too much information except the fact that Zoe has been taken hostage, for the lack of a better word, by Dan for her “own protection”. Seems cynical but that’s what the situation is. Julian is missing; the CIA has the couple’s location. Everything is coming to a tipping point in FX’s brilliant spy-thriller that is just not agreeing to let up.
The Episode Review
If a single episode was capable of completely turning the scales over towards the show, it is this one. Successive twists in the plot, both present, and past, are a rarity in modern-day television space.
‘The Old Man’ continues adding layers seamlessly to its dense narrative that is just beginning to unleash chaos. While we have already seen some epic battle sequences, the future promises something even grander. CIA and FBI are at loggerheads. And when titanic forces like these clash, the result can never be good- for those around it. For us, though, at a safe distance in the comfort of our beds and couches, it is untouchable, compelling entertainment that must be watched and worshipped.