The third season finale brings Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody’s (Damian Lewis) journey to a close and leave the series open to reinvention when it return for its fourth season.
Let’s bitch it out…And so it ends. The clandestine, star-crossed love affair that defined most of S2 and loomed large over S3 has finally come to an end. Depending on how you viewed the doomed romance between Carrie and Brody, this is either deeply affecting…or long overdue (the calls that this should have happened in the S1 finale or the S2 finale will begin in 3…2…1). Either way Homeland has officially wrapped for Damian Lewis and the narrative can finally move beyond the single story of the terrorist patriot that has dominated the first three seasons.
I was never anti-Carrie & Brody, nor was I one of the people who felt that their domination of many of the storylines ruined their characters. I did, however, question the logic of bringing Brody back after the events of the S2 finale. Even in the early episodes of the season, the show seemed better off without Brody in it (though it did make the scenes with his family, particularly Morgan Saylor’s Dana, that much more challenging to sit through). When Brody returned in 3×03 ‘Tower Of David’, I appreciated the visual symmetry of his and Carrie’s respective journeys, though it did feel as the writers unofficially hit the pause button on everything else to bring him back. When Saul’s (Mandy Patinkin) plan to use Brody came to light in 3×08 ‘A Red Wheelbarrow’ / 3×09 ‘One Last Thing’ it had all the makings of a final hurrah for the character – the chance to go out on top in a mission Carrie eventually describes as redemptive.
These final few episodes haven’t been without their issues. Brody’s time in Iran felt so compressed and the time jump was challenging because it felt like a lot of the juicy conflict was passed over (considering how much time was spent early in the season on less relevant content, this feels like a miscalculation by the writing staff in how they laid the season out). And so it comes down to ‘The Star’ – the denouement to Brody’s tale. After the murder he was sent to commit has been committed and Carrie has him in the safe house the only question is “what next”? Would Homeland spin the dice on another season of Brody trying to fit back into life in the US, raising his daughter in a storyline few would accept unless both he and Carrie were being written out of the series? Or would Homeland acknowledge the narrative conundrum that they created (or Showtime execs forced them into) and give the character a dignified, but necessary exit?
Thankfully it’s the latter: Nicholas Brody is retired – hanged in a public execution that is both gruesome and somehow beautiful (Lewis manages to perfectly capture the physical agony of slowly suffocating with the sublime peace of a man going to a long overdue grave). When it’s all said and done, Brody is a man who might have been better off dying in the desert instead of becoming the man he became, someone who no longer fit in the world. Over three seasons Brody was many things: a villain, a scapegoat, a martyr and a hero whose accomplishments went unheralded, swept under the rug by politicians like Lockhart (Tracy Letts) or spin-doctors like Dar Adal (F. Abraham Murray). The title of his final episode refers to the stars acknowledging fallen soldiers and is suitably appropriate because of Carrie’s final defiant act. She -and many of us, I imagine – feel Brody’s sacrifices deserve recognition. It’s symbolic that the closest he can hope to get is an act of vandalism, a fake embellishment that marks him as an impostor among “legitimate” heroes, since that’s what he will always be to people like Lockhart and the larger American people. It’s a great piece of political and social commentary and a fitting tribute to the man who helped shape and define the series over the last three years.
- If the climax of the super-sized finale is Brody’s execution, Carrie’s fear and unwillingness to care for their unborn daughter is a low-point. I’m not suggesting that it doesn’t fit within the master narrative Homeland has been crafting throughout this season because it does. Everything Carrie has done this season has been to salvage Brody’s reputation and bring him home so that they can be together (even Shaun Toub’s Javadi recognizes this). It makes sense that with Brody gone, the baby is both a reminder of him she no longer wants as well as something she no longer feels capable of handling alone. I’ll also acknowledge that the quick (for us) turn-around is partially to blame, because it feels like a few seconds later that Carrie is giving up on something that has driven her for at minimum 11 episodes. My issue is that the character and our feelings towards her don’t need this. Carrie has walked the line between frustrating and unlikable for a while and the haters don’t need another reason to dislike her. Waffling on raising your child isn’t good drama; it’s character assassination. At this point I’d rather see Carrie juggle being a mother than lead the field office in Istanbul.
- Part of Carrie’s Istanbul deal with Lockhart is that she can hand-pick some of her team. Is there any doubt she’ll select Quinn (Rupert Friend)? The friendship between the two has been building throughout S3 with what many audience members think is an eye towards a future romantic relationship. Care to bet if this comes to pass?
- Saul ends up outside of the CIA in private industry. Much like Brody, he receives no credit for his role in improving the political situation in Iran (Poor Saul). One of the show’s core strengths has been the tumultuous relationship between Saul and his former protege and that is evident in both his outrage when Lockhart and Adal give Brody over to Javadi, as well as his conversation with Carrie following the commemorative ceremony. How long before these two find their way back into each other’s orbit? It wouldn’t be Homeland without them, right?
- Finally, exciting news for the Dana haters. Casting notices confirm that both Jess (Morena Baccarin) and Dana – both unseen in the finale – will no longer be series regulars in S4. Aside from a potential Brody graveyard scene, I feel comfortable saying that neither should be seen again. Both actresses are really talented, but the show needs to move beyond all things Brody
What are your thoughts on the finale (or this season in general)? Are you happy or sad to see Brody go? Will Carrie keep the baby? Should she and Quinn be a couple next season? How will Saul and Carrie come back together? Sound off below
Homeland has now finished its third season. A fourth season will unfold next fall on Showtime