Homeland season finale recap: Kaboom

Carrie's fateful choice about Brody sets the stage for season 3, and whether you'll want to keep watching the show
Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 16, 2012

WHO IS NICHOLAS BRODY? DO WE CARE ANYMORE? The biggest problem with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is that until the season finale, the show had effectively answered all the major mysteries about him. Instead of continuing his story based on who is and what he wants, however, the writers chose to manufacture a brand new mystery — was Brody responsible for the bombing? — to hold our interest. Granted, as mysteries go, it's a humdinger; I anticipate some pointed debates with fellow Homeland obsessives in the following months. But I don't know if it makes Brody himself all that much more compelling of a character.

Kent Smith/Showtime

ACT 2: PARENTS JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND

With Carrie still trying to make up her mind, all Brody could do was begin to recalibrate his relationships with his family. He rang up Jessica to clear a time for him to pick up his suit for Walden's memorial — turns out, Chris is "not eating" much in the wake of the divorce, which shouldn't be all that shocking for a character who barely exists — and then wandered into the watering hole where he knew he'd find Mike Faber.

Over some cheap bottles of Rolling Rock, Brody told Mike that he and Jessica were splitting up, and gave him permission to "keep taking care" of his family like he had been before Brody was discovered in Iraq. "Because I can't right now." Again, at the time, this sounded like a confession that Brody's still too f---ed up to manage a family, but in hindsight, it almost sounded like a man putting his affairs in order before exploding a bomb at CIA headquarters. Homeland, there you go again, making me paranoid. At least Mike Faber has the decency to remain the nicest himbo on TV, grumbling earnestly that "this isn't the way it was supposed to go" even though he had just slept with Jessica days earlier. Whatta guy.

At Langley, Estes also mended fences, releasing Saul from his corporate furniture prison cell after three days of confinement, with the details of his polygraph death sentence redacted to boot — yet another clean slate. Earlier in the episode, it was bracing to realize that Saul had been confined like this, and that no one at the CIA seemed to think it all that out of the ordinary. But it did allow for the best line of the night, spoken as Estes entered: "Well, if it isn't Javert." (Having seen the upcoming feature film of Les Misérables, let me just say that I would have been most pleased to experience what Mandy Patinkin and his formidable beard would have made of that particular role.)

Back at the Brody home, Brody absorbed the reality of his packed up life, and began changing for the funeral, when his professional lurker daughter sauntered into the bedroom. In her enervating mumble, she demanded honest answers about that fateful day when she'd caught him putting on his bomb vest and Carrie later came by talking crazy about how he was going to kill a lot of people. "She isn't crazy, is she," Dana said. "So you were gonna do those things."

"But I didn't," Brody said, without flinching. And even though a part of Dana knew it to be true, she was overwhelmed by her father's backdoor confession. "It is like you just don't know anyone," Dana said, backing away before her father could have the satisfaction of convincing her that he had changed. But he must have made some kind of impression, since later, Dana would cite this conversation — and her father's levelheaded demeanor during it — as proof that Brody was not responsible for the bombing, since he was nothing like the sweaty spaz he'd been at the end of season 1. I'm inclined to agree, though I did also note that he never even entertained the notion of inviting his daughter to the funeral of her friend's father; maybe it was because he knew it was gonna go boom?

For all his hullabaloo over Estes' plan to assassinate Brody, meanwhile, Saul was fairly well convinced that Brody hadn't changed, that he knew exactly who Brody was. And he made no bones over making his point of view clear to Carrie as he left to oversee Abu Nazir's burial at sea. ("Seems to be the method of choice these days.") He was angling to use his newfound capital with Estes to make Carrie a station chief, the youngest in the history of the agency, and he had run out of patience for Carrie's inability to understand how much Brody's actions had sealed his fate. "It's complicated," Carrie stammered. "No, it's crystal clear," Saul said patronizingly. "You cannot be with him." Unlike Brody, who'd been so understanding, Saul backed Carrie into a corner, incredulous that she would choose a man who wore a suicide vest over him and the agency. "You're throwing your life away," he said, the paternal subtext quickly becoming text. "Or maybe I'm just not giving it away," Carrie said, throwing Saul's own romantic unhappiness back at him. Saul's face twisted into a disgusted sneer. "You're the smartest and the dumbest f---in' person I've ever known." And with that, Saul was off to a Naval ship to watch Abu Nazir's bullet-riddled body be prepared for a simple Muslim burial and dumped into the Atlantic.

NEXT: "What made you change your mind?"

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