Homeland season finale recap: Clean Slate

Carrie tries to extract Brody, but Javadi hunts them down. Meanwhile, Lockhart officially replaces Saul as the head of the CIA
Ep. 12 | Aired Dec 15, 2013

SO LONG, MARINE ONE Brody's exit leaves a significant void on the show that will certainly affect Carrie the most -- after all, he is the father of her child and her reason for pursuing the Tehran mission in the first place. Even so, his death means hitting the reset button for the show, and we'll have to wait until season 4 to see how that plays out.

Frank Ockenfels 3/SHOWTIME

Time to check in on Saul. He's back in D.C. and heads into a diner to meet Dar "I want to spread my wings and soar" Adal. Saul's become the talk of the town since Javadi's success and has even received a new nickname: The Maestro. He grins at the news, but then asks if Dar would be willing to join him in the private sector. His former co-pilot runs him down -- "I'm a life-r," Dar says -- but guesses that Saul misses the CIA. "Never," Saul replies, smiling.

Carrie isn't as happy, nervously holding her stomach as she leans back on her couch. Suddenly, she sees an outline of her baby as a limb moves against her skin. Terrified, she backs away, and the scene ends when her father and sister enter the house, bringing with them a crib and everything Maggie had used for her family.

But Carrie tries to make them take it all back. "I'm not gonna need your stuff... I'm moving to Istanbul," she says quietly. When her father presses her to explain more, she finally relents. "I can't keep her, that's what I'm saying," Carrie says. "It's sick, I know, but I can't."

Neither one of her family members takes that as an answer. "Carrie, I've been thinking about this a lot," Maggie says as she takes a seat on the couch next to her sister. "I think she's going to ground you, make you focused, be healthy, and I think you will be astonished by the love you have for her." Carrie shakes her head, and says she doesn't feel that love; she just feels scared.

Instead, her father volunteers to take the baby if Carrie is so insistent on giving her up. Maggie asks them both to slow down and think about what's going on, wondering how Carrie will feel after the baby is born.

"Scared is how I feel," Carrie cries. "And sad." She pauses. "I'm so f--king sad," she says before burying her face in her hands.

It's a devastating moment for the character, and it's something the almighty Carrie can't get herself out of at this point -- every day, her pregnancy is a reminder of Brody, no longer the hope she used to hold on to as motivation to bring him back. But Carrie puts her game face back on and makes it successfully to the CIA's commemorative ceremony, patiently listening as Lockhart reads the names of the fallen and delivers a "nice" (to Saul, anyway) speech.

She even stays afterward, and Saul approaches her, visitor's pass and all. She fingers the pass, saying that it's just "plain wrong" that he's treated this way. Saul's philosophy, though, is that it's time to "pull down the shades and go home."

"But you won, Saul, you won," she replies. And even though Saul says that he knows he did, he doesn't hesitate to say goodbye, walk away, and leave the building. Carrie watches for a minute, perhaps waiting to see if he'll look back, but he doesn't.

The scene dissolves to the final one we see, as Carrie walks through the dark, empty lobby of the CIA toward the wall of stars. Her footsteps echo as she steps nearer, takes out a marker, and picks a spot. She draws a star for Brody, glances at her handiwork, and, satisfied, walks away. Fade to black.

And so we end the season, not with an explosion or twist of some kind, but with the quiet exit of one character, and the slow rebuilding of another. For the latter, I'm referring to Carrie -- this is her chance to put herself together post-Brody, but she just has to recognize that. In fact, we've come a long way since "The Weekend." We've answered many of the show's original questions: Is Brody a hero? Can he be trusted? Can Carrie be trusted? Now, the show has a chance to create new ones. The biggest question is whether it'll be able to create ones that are just as engaging as what we've seen so far.

Who knows what will happen? I definitely don't. I leave this season with a sense of, well, shaky satisfaction, if that makes any sense. On one hand, I feel like the show's come full circle with Brody's death, and I'm pleased with the idea of a new arc. (I'm also happy Meredith Stiehm is back on the show after helming The Bridge this season.) On the other, the show has certainly attained new heights of crazy, new speeds of plotting, and new, ridiculous takes on the characters (particularly Saul) through the past 12 episodes. Oh, and the holes. I will always mention the holes -- Carrie telling soldiers to call Javadi, Carrie in Iran in the first place despite the recorded pregnancy, Brody's relatively tame imprisonment post-tribunal without any attempt to find out who told him to kill Akbari -- but at this point, I'm hoping the next season will point Homeland back in the right direction.

Anyway, I think that's enough speculating. Just looking at this melancholic season finale alone, I'm happy with it. I'm glad the show didn't pull another spectacular twist of some kind and instead took a thoughtful route. Again, it almost feels like a series finale to me.

But maybe you wanted more action. Maybe you didn't want Brody to die. Maybe you thought the mission would blow up in the CIA's face. If that's the case, I don't blame you -- the episode took a track that I thought wouldn't ever happen (other than Brody's death), after all. So whatever your thoughts, sound off in the comments below. And now that season 3's over, what do you think is in store for season 4?

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