There are very few things in Homeland, with its endless twists and reversals, that are irrefutably true, but this comment from Saul to Carrie in the season 2 finale is one of them: “You are the smartest and the dumbest fucking person I’ve ever known.” Sometimes you can say the same thing about the show. (If you haven’t watched the finale yet – why are you reading this? Come back later. Because here’s what did and didn’t happen.)
The best news is that Brody did not die, which should not surprise anyone who knows the value of an Emmy-winning actor to a hit series. Damian Lewis is amazing, and by now that crazy-smart Carrie (Claire Danes) and dashing can-we-trust-him-or-not Brody are as swoony-romantic as if they were in The English Patient.
But if saving him was a no-brainer, the reasoning in the plot . . . very dumb. We’re meant to believe that Quinn (Rupert Friend), the assassin sent to kill him by CIA head Estes, suddenly went soft-headed and soft-hearted when he saw Brody and Carrie together. The romantic assassin? Really?
A smart surprise twist: Abu Nazir set Brody up from the grave, arranging to plant a bomb in his car, which exploded during a memorial service at the CIA for Vice President Walton. Carrie and Brody escaped the blast because they were conveniently in another room, planning their future together. So now Estes is dead, Brody is a fugitive, Carrie has stayed behind to clear his name, and Saul (Mandy Patinkin, never better) is acting head of the CIA. Oh, but in another dumb move, Brody admitted to his daughter, Dana, that he had planned to set off a bomb last season, then changed his mind and is just good old reliable Dad these days . . . she may be mopey but she’s not an idiot and doesn’t necessarily believe him now.
But here, finally, is what Homeland did extremely well all season: give us intricate relationships that we care about, that can never quite come clean. We’re invested in the possibility of Carrie and Brody’s near-impossible reinventions. Can Brody outrun his past and truly change? Can Carrie ever really trust him? Oh, sure, when he looks into her eyes and says “Goodbye, Love,” as he crosses the Canadian border, we all go weak-kneed, (another reason they needed to keep Damian Lewis) but in the cold fluorescent light of a CIA office? Those questions are for next season, though.
Meanwhile, take a look at this fun little video with creator Alex Gansa, wrapping up the finale and hinting at what comes in season 3. (And if you missed the priceless SNL parody with Anne Hathaway spoofing Claire Danes's Carrie, watch it here.)