Well that’s a wrap folks. The first season of Showtime’s brilliant drama, Homeland, has come to its conclusion and we have a lot to talk about. Major SPOILERS coming up.
Let’s break it down…
In a way a lot happened in this ninety minute, extended episode of Homeland, but by the end, we had returned full circle to the core relationships that this show excelled at. I had some concerns going into this final episode because I was never as interested in the whole “Brody is/Brody isn’t a terrorist” storyline. For me, that was never the crux of the story. It was about the damaged people who were front and centre: POW Brody (Damian Lewis) and CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). He’s the soldier who was tortured and turned and now has to return to western civilization and his absent family. She’s the bipolar loose canon determined to protect the country from terrorist threats at all costs. Together they elevate the show from a generic crime drama to arguably the best freshman (if not all) shows on television.
Part of the challenge of watching the finale, then, was knowing that no matter how well they built the tension, there was very little chance that the show would let go of Damian Lewis. So although the actor did a great job in the bunker as he tried not once, but twice to detonate his vest bomb, I was never convinced that he would truly go through with it. Especially given the earlier bonding scenes with daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor), which whom he’s become increasingly close in the last few episodes. So instead of going boom, Brody was talked off the ledge by the desperate pleas of his daughter to return home. It was an obvious moment, but being obvious didn’t make it any less powerful or effective.
So how did we get there? The finale episode took place over five days (four of which were shown). The first was relatively brief and served to reintroduce our characters, their motivations and where they are going into the final conflict:
- Brody is running for office, but remains dedicated to Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) to destroy the VP (Jamey Sheridan) for his role in the drone attack that killed 82 children, including one of Nazir’s sons, two years ago.
- Carrie is in the depressive state following her bout of mania last episode. This allowed her to crack Nazir’s timeline, but at the expense of her job after Brody exposed their affair and her surveillance of him to boss David (David Harwood), who promptly fired her.
The majority of tonight’s finale episode revolves around these conflicts as Brody waffles back and forth between his renewed family life and his dedication to the cause. Carrie, meanwhile, has struggles of her own in her desire to feel useful and help protect the VP, despite no longer being involved in the case.
Brody and Tom Walker’s (Chris Chalk) plan of attack (played out over Day 2) is relatively clever, although the ease with which Carrie figures it out suggests at least someone else would have thought of it, even if they weren’t suspecting Brody. The title of the episode refers to Carrie’s belief that Walker’s rogue sniper isn’t acting alone and that Nazir’s plan involves using two Marines. One uses a series of gunshots (several of which kill poor Elizabeth Gaines [Linda Purl]) to drive the politicians into the building. Then when everyone is enclosed inside, Marine Two will take the group out.
And it would have worked, if not for Carrie. Although she may never know it (or at least not this season), her confrontation with Dana at the Brody household (ending in Carrie’s arrest) ultimately drives Dana to make the call that prompts Brody to reconsider after he fixes his malfunctioning bomb-vest.
In the end, Brody and Carrie share only one scene in the entire episode. After she is released from jail on Day 3, he confronts her and forces her to promise him that she will stay away from him because her actions were “crazy.” For Carrie this proves too much to handle, especially after Saul (Mandy Patinkin) correctly deduces earlier in the episode that she is in love with Brody. How difficult would it be to act on your feelings, have a perfect weekend, walk away in service of your country, and then be told by the object of your affection that they think you’re crazy? For someone who has struggled the entire season to come to grips with the affect that her bipolar conditions has on her, her family, and her job – this is the final straw. Brody’s actions unknowingly drives Carrie to the hospital where at the end of the episode (Day 5) we see her undergoing electro-convulsive therapy. It’s a heartbreaking way to end a season for a character that I have become completely engrossed with over the last twelve weeks. Watching Claire Danes’ face dissolve and her body racked with pain and grief before she made her decision proves to me that her recent Golden Globe nomination is spot on. This role is career high for Danes and she can’t receive enough critical kudos in my opinion.
Brody, meanwhile, makes a deal with the devil to climb higher into the upper echelons of the US government. He confirms with Nazir that he’ll use his position of power to influence policy. For Nazir fighting with ideas is as good as using bombs, so Brody is given the go-ahead to put down Walker. As many have predicted, it appears that season two will pick up with Brody on the campaign trail, with Carrie not far behind.
How long do we have to wait again?
- I haven’t always been a fan of the children on this (and many other) shows. But here the investment in the Brody-Dana relationship pays off well, and Morgan Saylor does a great job in her key scene when she demands Brody promise her that he’ll return home. I liked that they went with Dana instead of Jess (Morena Baccarin) because that’s still a work-in-progress relationship
- I forgot how much I liked David Marciano as Virgil. His big-brother/partner relationship with Carrie was an early indicator for me that the show was paying attention to the intricacies of the relationships, not simply the political intrigue. In this episode, he is a good replacement for Saul when Carrie needs someone to believe that she isn’t crazy (even though Virgil’s clearly never quite sure what to make of her ideas)
- Best dialogue of the night: After a frazzled Carrie to Jess on the Brody lawn “No, you’re not listening,” Jess retorts “Of course I’m not listening to you!”
- The big question is what will the electro-convulsive therapy do to Carrie? We’re told it may affect her short-term memory (for a while), but that this is a treatment that will help her to live. Should we assume that the show will no longer have her disease as a key factor when it returns? As much as I love Danes, I don’t want to watch a female version of The Fugitive and I hardly think that the treatment works in that way.
What did everyone think? Sound off below in the comments and share your thoughts on the finale and the season as a whole. And be sure to check in throughout the rest of this week and next week as we’re counting down the “Bitch Awards” – the best of film and television this year.
I can pretty much guarantee you that Homeland is going to make the list. To find out where, you’ll have to follow along!