There’s no denying that the back half of this season of Homeland started sliding off a cliff, and like Boardwalk Empire (which also just finished up a shaky run) many Homeland fans were looking for this finale to right a lot of the wrongs elsewhere in the season, something Boardwalk Empire did a few weeks ago with aplomb. Promos for the finale teased high drama and emotions, and conversations this past week among friends, fans and even strangers in line at the grocery store all had the same conclusion about where the series was “clearly” headed. But in “The Choice,” Homeland reminded us why we should never take anything for granted. Hit the jump for more on this topsy turvy finale episode.
There was little doubt in anyone’s mind going into “The Choice” that Brody would be killed off. It would be a tough choice because Damian Lewis is fantastic and brings so much to the show, but he was also an albatross that hung around the Homeland‘s second season. Had Brody, and the show, “gone there” to end the first season, the series would have ended on a tragic, though rather perfect, note. But Homeland was never meant to be a miniseries, and to keep the show running Brody has to remain on the run – from his family, from Nazir, from the CIA, from himself.
The first 40 minutes of “The Choice” seemed to back the theory of Brody’s demise, since it played out like a long, slow goodbye letter. He and Carrie returned back to the woods, “their place” as she says. He has a moment with Dana, and even hands his family off to Mike. He prayed in the morning sun.
The explosion at the CIA seemed to change everything, but did it? Homeland‘s duality is never far — Brody claims someone moved his car, but knew definitively (and very quickly) that Nazir was behind things, and had sacrificed himself and Roya to achieve it. Does that suggest a deeper knowledge of the attack? After all, why would Nazir have let Brody go this last time except to execute another plan?
Brody broke things off with Jess pretty cleanly, all things considered — was this part of his plan? When he returned to his house to retrieve his suit, he also looked in the closet at the top rack. Was he surprised at how Jess had laid out all of his things, or was he looking for the vest he didn’t detonate? Did he put that vest in his car when he left? Is he innocent? Guilty? Why was Carrie’s first instinct to suspect him for the attack? Because he had looked sad a moment before? Because she knows, deep down, he’s still a terrorist?
Just after the episode aired I watched a short video featuring Homeland‘s executive producer Alex Gansa, wherein it seems Brody’s innocence is taken for granted. I’m hoping things aren’t quite so clear cut in the third season, although it brings back the issue of why Brody wasn’t killed off … again. Though Nazir is gone, there are new targets in his place, but what (if anything) is Brody’s connection to them? And even if his name is cleared as being the culprit in the attack, the most shocking moment may truly have been the revelation of his terrorist video tape by Al Qaeda. Now Brody’s lies won’t help him any more — his family knows, the nation knows, the world knows of his intentions.
The Brody Problem is one the show can’t seem to address well — can’t live with him, can’t live without him. And as big of a fan as I am of the star-crossed lovers motif in general, there’s something boring and, well, just plain annoying about Brody and Carrie’s extended scenes together. It’s like being stuck in full view of an overly amorous PDA couple that makes everyone uncomfortable around them, which is an unfortunate development. “Get a room!” (or a cabin! or a boat in international waters!)
Regarding the rest of the carnage, eradicating the Waldens negated any relevance to Dana’s storyline earlier in the season, as if we needed any more proof of that being a waste of time. But getting rid of Estes was particularly strange since there still seemed so much there that was ripe for exploration regarding Estes, Quinn, Carrie and Saul (plus I’ll miss David Harewood). Galvez was also confirmed dead, which, poor thing. He barely escapes another terror attack, then gets blamed for Nazir’s escape because he’s Muslim, and then dies in a second Nazir attack. Kid can’t catch a break! Still, for what’s left of the CIA, it’s a great setup having Saul and Carrie basically running the agency to start the third season, with Quinn surely in a heavily conflicted role about not pulling the trigger when he had the chance.
Did the finale make up for the other missteps of the season: the dropped plot lines (Lauter and the search for truth about Tom Walker, Dana and Finn’s doomed romance and killing spree, Chris and that damnable game of Hearts), Carrie’s recovery from bipolar which we will only mention when convenient, the fact that Dana only has one pair of shoes, or the endless coincidences that question the credibility of the show’s believable universe? It has certainly made things interesting for Season Three, and maybe that’s all we can ask for. I would argue that we really should ask for more, but it’s what we have. And it’s something.
Episode Rating: A-, Season Rating: B+
— “What is all this squishy bullshit” – Estes
— Quinn’s “turn” was interesting, especially because it basically allowed the explosion horror to take place. Great scene between him and Estes though, and finally showed that he has a code.
— “You’re the smartest and the dumbest fucking person I’ve ever known” – Saul
— Saul for all the awards, by the way.
— So will Carrie confess to Saul she helped Brody escape? How else can her whereabouts be accounted for?
— At least if Mira comes back maybe Saul won’t be so mopey.
— The idea of Nazir still pulling the strings from beyond the grave is fitting.
— As soon as any character says “I have a second chance! A clean slate! We can be happy, right?” they’re doomed.
— How was Brody going to know where to go 20 miles in the dark woods?
— Dana is going to throw a lot of milk over Brody’s terrorist revelation. I don’t think he can come back from this regarding his relationship with his family.
— Homeland didn’t “go there” in Season One, and now repeated the theme to end Season Two. Mistake or brilliant twist?
— This has been great fun — thanks to everyone who accompanied me to this Cabin of Trust. See you next year!