Wow. Just…wow. There’s been a lot of grumbling among critics and fans that Homeland has jumped the shark this season, contorted its plot beyond reason or logic, but it’s hard to imagine even the worst critics not being satisfied by such a clever and fairly elegant resolution to its storyline thus far.
Remember that duality we talked about last week? Well the people who watch this show wanting high octane thrills all the time, a la 24, were likely really disappointed by the first 40 minutes, because they’re devoted to exploring that quiet emotional side, the relationship between our leads. Brody and Carrie are back at their cabin in the woods, their idyll out of time, and it’s honeymoonish for sure. It’s also pretty honest. They bare themselves emotionally, acknowledging their baggage (“your past and my illness”), and tentatively wondering if they can make this work…all the while unaware that Peter Quinn is watching them. He watches and waits, even as they start making love—a pretty neat bit of symmetry with the show’s first few episodes where Carrie surveilled Brody. Quinn takes a time out, and the next morning, when Carrie runs out to get croissants, he follows Brody into the woods, where he goes to pray, and lifts his gun, finger on the trigger….
But he doesn’t do it. When Carrie returns, Brody is there, and they talk about the real choice before them. It all boils down to whether or not Carrie wants him enough to leave the agency. She assumes (which seems like a big assumption at this point still) that she’ll get her job back, but she can’t be dating a former terrorist and be a CIA agent. (Honestly though, I have to admit this ostensible choice actually felt a bit contrived to me. Brody, for all intents and purposes, did what he was asked and helped bring down Abu Nazir. He is no longer a terrorist, but a patriot, arguably.) She agrees to think about it and they return to the real world.
Elsewhere, poor Saul is still being held by the CIA, and he demands of his handler that he call Carrie and insists again that an assassination will happen. But he’s wrong, because Quinn is waiting silently in a chair in Estes bedroom. He tells Estes that Brody stuck to the deal and helped them catch Nazir and that Carrie is the most brilliant analyst he’s ever seen. And he gives him an ultimatum: “The only reason to kill Brody now is for you. To cover your ass. And the collateral damage is to wreck a woman you’ve already wrecked once before. I ain’t doing that.” GO QUINN GO! He tells Estes that Brody stays alive, or Quinn and his sniper rifle will be waiting in that chair again someday, “because I’m the guy that kills bad guys.” Whooooo! It’s a great ending line, and a good way to go out if we don’t see Rupert Friend again (which is maybe the biggest question I have about S3).
Estes then goes to see Saul (I’d bet money that “Well, if it isn’t Javert!” was a Mandy Patinkin ad-lib!), saying he changed his mind and decided Saul was right about Brody, that he did help. Saul pokes at him a bit more, but Estes says his report will be redacted and implies he won’t use it against him, saying he’s free to go.
Over at their favorite dive bar, Brody gives Mike permission to continue to “take care of his family” and then heads home to pick up a suit for Walden’s funeral. Dana is there, and she comes into the room while he is dressing and starts asking about the day that crazy woman showed up. He was dressing then too, and she notes that he’s never cared about her coming in before or since. The devil is in the details. Dana presses him, asking if Carrie was telling the truth. “She isn’t crazy, is she?” No, he assures her, but adds that he doesn’t want to lie to her. “You were gonna do those things,” she says. Brody insists he didn’t and wouldn’t now. She tears up and says it’s impossible to know anyone. He assures her that she knows him. But Dana walks away, distraught.
Carrie meanwhile catches up with a recently freed Saul. He tells her she’ll be reinstated and is in line to be the youngest section chief in the department’s history, and notices Carrie looks torn. He says he thought she’d be thrilled and then quickly deduces, amid Carrie’s weak protests about her illness and wanting a different kind of life, that the real issue is Brody. He simply and resolutely tells her that she can’t be with him, not as a CIA agent. The conversation gets sad and mean from there, with Carrie ranting that she just doesn’t want to be alone. “Like me?” Saul asks and she’s still upset and lashes out, saying it doesn’t look so good from where she’s standing. This is the straw that breaks Saul’s infinite supply of patience, however, and he says she’s both “the smartest and dumbest fucking person he’s ever known” before walking away.
It’s a tragic and clever parallel that both Carrie and Brody have to basically give up the people that were closest to them in order to have the bright shiny future they’re envisioning.
Just when it’s starting to seem like the finale is more of a coda than the cliffhanger type, we go to cross cuts between Brody attending Walden’s CIA memorial and Saul attending a clandestine burial at sea for Nazir. The Walden family is there, as well as Brody and Carrie, and Estes stands at a podium before a big wall of windows, spouting some bullshit about how heroic Walden was and specifically mentioning his drone program to “take out terrorists like Al Qaeda.” Carrie and Brody exchange disgusted looks and slip away, into what looks like Saul’s office. Carrie tells him she’s decided: she wants to be with him, and they kiss, but then Brody sees something over her shoulder out the window. He notes someone moved his car to right in front of the building from the parking lot we saw him pull into. A beat too late Carrie realizes what that means.
But then the car bomb goes off, blowing through the glass where the memorial is being held and knocking Carrie and Brody out too. She comes to first and runs for a gun, training it on Brody, convinced he planned this. He shakily assures her that it wasn’t him and convinces her that this was Nazir’s real plan. That he got captured so easily last week (remember we wondered about that too?) because this was his real plan. To lull them into complacency so he could kill 200 government personages and CIA officials. Carrie realizes he’s right, and says they have to run.
Saul, who is now the ranking CIA official, is called to the scene and surveys the damage, getting the news that Carrie is unaccounted for. He misses the bigger picture for once though, and snaps that they can just say that Carrie’s presumed dead, don’t fucking sugarcoat it. (Saul “the bear” is using the F-word A LOT these days). But then he learns Brody is also unaccounted for and he tries Carrie’s cell phone, sadly asking her to call him. (Patinkin’s delivery of this is just heartbreaking.)
The very much alive Carrie and Brody are headed to a storage unit however to utilize Carrie’s “insurance plan”, which happens to be a trunk full of passports and wads of cash. Ha. They head to an ID maker and Carrie’s got a plan, and a friend who will help them escape first into Canada, and then international waters.
Saul, meanwhile is still shellshocked by the loss at the bomb site. He gets a cell phone call…and it’s his wife! (Remember her?) She’s thrilled he’s alive and asks after Carrie. Saul simply says she’s “gone.” His wife tells him she’s coming home. He can only whisper, “Yes. Please.” Awwwwwww. And if Patinkin doesn’t get an Emmy next year for his arc in this latter half of the show, it’ll be a travesty.
Back at the Brody residence, an FBI type has been searching the residence much to their chagrin, and they watch the news of the bombing in horror, and now he questions Jess as to what Brody was up to when she last saw him. Dana pipes up in defense of her father, saying she talked with him and he was fine. But then suddenly Brody’s face comes up on the TV: Al Qaeda has released his suicide video (remember that?!) and is claiming responsibility for the bombing. Dana dissolves into tears as everyone looks on horrified.
At the fake ID shop, Carrie and Brody are watching the same video, also horrified. They get back in the car and Carrie drives to the border. The plan is to sneak through the woods to her friend’s cabin. But Brody looks at her and realizes she’s not coming with him. She wanted to, was going to, but she can’t now. They kiss goodbye, and she vows to clear his name. “We came so close.” She says it can still happen someday, and vows to clear his name. He says whatever happens or doesn’t, “This was love. You and me.” It’s the first time he’s acknowledged it. She insists it’s not goodbye. He says okay. She asks if he doesn’t believe her. “However it hurts the least.”
“Oh my God,” she cries, dissolving. “Why do I feel like this?”
“Because you gave it up to me.”
“Completely,” she agrees.
They kiss and he whispers “Goodbye love” before he moves off into the night. Sigh.
Back in Washington, Saul is hesitantly giving orders, for agents to check the bomb residue in Congressman Brody’s car matches the C-4 from the tailor shop. The camera pans out to see that Saul is standing amid the 200 body bags of the victims. It’s a chilling site. He begins to pray, and Carrie steps into the room, calling his name. There are literally no words to describe Mandy Patinkin’s relieved expression that slides into a smile when he sees her. Guh.
And that’s season 2. As clever and elegant a wrap-up as anyone could’ve expected I think. Many thought Brody might die, some argued he had to be killed or the series would lose all credibility. But this scenario leaves a lot of avenues for the show to continue on with all the major players intact. It also didn’t violate Carrie’s character. When she saw that Al Qaeda news broadcast claiming responsibility, she just couldn’t run away from that. As much as she loved Brody, it would just be impossible for the Carrie we know to do that. And this way Damian Lewis can continue on with the show perhaps, running and evading capture, probably trying to contact his family again even though he shouldn’t, while Carrie works to clear his name, fighting Al Qaeda to the bitter end alongside Saul.
Season 3 can’t come fast enough.
Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and Internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.