There have been good times and there have been bad times this season on Homeland, but it all comes down to this: how does the second season end?
Let’s bitch it out…With a literal bang – that’s how. In a dramatic counterpoint to the bomb that didn’t go off in last season’s finale, ‘The Choice’ offers up 200 crispy critters and yet another reboot of the series going into S3.
Early in the hour it seems as though the finale is setting up some kind of romantic escape scenario for Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis). Of course, knowing that a third season of the show has been commissioned, it’s hard to believe that we’ll spend a season watching them play house away from the CIA. So even though Quinn (Rupert Friend) stands down when he has Brody in his sights at Carrie’s cabin, we know that something else has to happen. By the time that the lovebirds sneak away from the memorial for VP Walden (Jamey Sheridan) and Estes (David Harewood) begins spouting off talking points about Walden’s role in taking down Osama Bin Laden and Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), the tension begins to ratchet up. And then we see Brody’s car, moved by sources unknown, and the truth becomes clear: this was the plan all along.
In the grand scheme of things, this makes both perfect sense…and no sense at all. So Nazir planned to serve up Roya as a pawn, execute Sheridan and die a martyr’s death in order to blow up the memorial? In terms of what we’ve learned about him, this does sound like him (actually it sounds suspiciously like Roya’s proposed target: a mass congregation of soldiers returning home), but the how of the explosion doesn’t make a great deal of sense. I suppose when we see the terrorist group claim credit we’re meant to believe that they had a hand in these events, but the details remain murky and unclear.
I think it’s clear that the show wanted to end the season on an ambivalent note, especially with the finale staunchly refusing to answer who set the bomb, what will happen with Brody and what does the relationship between Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and Carrie look like now that he’s assumed control of the CIA and she’s protecting the man he earlier refuted would always be a terrorist. And let’s face it: there’s an argument to be made that Brody was never truthful with Carrie and that he really is responsible. And then there’s the flip-side in which we believe that the feelings he and Carrie share are genuine.
A good finale has a few strings left dangling to suck you back into the show the next season, so the fact that not everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow should be expected. And in my opinion, I think that the ambivalence of ‘The Choice’ is what makes it a worthy finale to a slightly rocky season filled with genuinely surprising twists and turns.
Ultimately what this supersized finale does is effectively release the show from a number of its increasingly more convoluted plotlines. The writers are free to bring back Brody when it makes narrative sense and in the meantime they can either pursue the bombing or introduce a new “non-Nazir” related threat to homeland security. Like Todd VanDerWerff says over at AV Club, I hope that they put Brody on the back-burner for a while, despite the temptation to bring him back as soon as possible, because we need to miss him before he returns. This is an opportunity for the show to regroup and discover what didn’t work in the last stretch of credibility-stretching episodes, and a big part of me thinks that that means no Brody for a while. Homeland has dodged a bullet by not killing Brody (in a sense they’re having their cake and eating it, too), so I hope they find a way to ensure he’ll be used well when he inevitably returns in S3.
- So long Estes, Cynthia Walden (Talia Balsam) and terrible driver, Finn (Timothée Chalamet). You were great utility players, but we have no use for you now! Adios!
- Did everyone noticed that Quinn disappeared shortly after refusing to kill Brody…who then immediately becomes a suspect in a huge attack? How much should we read into the fact that Quinn opted to keep Brody alive?
- The moment that Dana (Morgan Saylor) realizes that she’s digging a deeper grave for her father when she can’t comment on what they talked about = gold. I like that Brody finally comes clean about his actions last season and reassures her that he was a good guy before disappearing into Canada, even though I’m sure she’s now questioning what to believe after seeing his leaked tape
- The show sure did get its money’s worth out of that confessional video, huh? The number of times that thing made the rounds before ultimately sinking Brody publicly is pretty impressive
- Now that Saul is in charge, do you think that Dar Adul (an unseen F. Murray Abraham) will come back into play next season to challenge his choices? Also, how do you feel about Saul missing the memorial – and therefore the explosion – because he was supervising the last rites of Nazir? Cop out, or justifiably believable?
- Finally, Carrie’s “insurance plan” involves sneaking across the border into Canada before catching a freighter for international waters. While I’m not ecstatic about being a safe traveling zones for terrorists, it’s always nice to get a shout-out! Hey Carrie!
- Brody (to Carrie): “My only real plan is to be a good person again.”
- Quinn (threatening Estes): “Nothing happens to Brody. Or you’ll find me back in this bedroom, right back in that chair.”
- Saul (confronting Carrie about Brody): “You’re the smartest and the dumbest f*cking person I’ve ever known.” Saul is my favourite – no one tells the truth quite like him
So that’s S2. How do you feel in hindsight: was all the madness of the last few episodes assuaged by the finale? Do you believe Brody truly is innocent? What will happen to his family (ie: how long before Diego Klattenhoof’s Mike and Morena Baccarin’s Jess start shagging like rabbits again)? And where does the show go from here? Hit the comments below and be sure to check in to see if Homeland repeats as the best show of the year in the 2012 Bitch Awards!
Homeland has now completed its second season. It will return for a third season next fall on Showtime