After tonight’s finale, it’s hard to imagine what another season of "Homeland" would look like. Season three’s finale wraps it all up and writes the fates for all our key characters.
Let’s start at the beginning. Brody is standing over General Akbari’s dead body at the headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. He drags the body under the desk, pockets a gun he finds in a desk drawer and walks out of the building as calmly as possible. We know it’s only a matter of seconds, though, before someone realizes the general has been assassinated
The news that something is wrong churns through the building just as Brody shuts the door of the sleek black SUV waiting for him outside. He points his newly acquired gun at the driver and tells him to step on it. On a dusty road not far from the fracas, Brody pushes the driver out of the car and drives himself to his and Carrie’s meeting place.
At the CIA, it’s Saul’s last day as director before handing the reigns to Senator Lockhart, but he’s not going down without a fight. Colonel Javadi tells them that he has been placed in charge of the manhunt for Brody, and he can’t afford to look weak on this assignment.
Give Brody up, Javadi argues, and I’ll make sure Carrie gets home safely. Lockhart and Dar Adal agree with Javadi’s suggestion. Saul, suddenly showing the idealism absent in recent episodes, insists that they owe it to Brody (and Carrie) to do everything they can on Brody’s behalf
Brody’s tall frame and distinctive red hair seem certain to lead to his immediate capture, but Carrie finds him before he is recognized. They trek to a safe house far outside of Tehran. Saul lets them know that a two-Blackhawk, 16-man team of special ops will be there to escort them out of the country by sunrise.
In the echoing, candle-lit space, Carrie and Brody are finally alone. Despite Saul’s congratulatory messages, Brody expresses ambivalence about the morality of this “mission accomplished.” What’s the point?, he asks, echoing a sentiment that Saul, Carrie and Quinn have all voiced in various episodes throughout this season.
It’s a good question, but Carrie is in no mood for existential angst. I’m pregnant, she tells him, and for a moment they revel in the possibility of a shared future. It’s a romantic scene, far less saccharine than those in the season two finale, and overall it works. Soon, they hear the thumping of helicopters and leave the safe house to meet their rescuers.
These are no special ops, though: Javadi’s men are outside, guns drawn and poised to arrest Brody. Lockhart, backed by the president, has called off the rescue and agreed to Javadi’s plan. Carrie is distraught and goes to see Javadi herself.
When she arrives back in Tehran, Javadi patiently spells it out for Carrie. Brody has already been sentenced to execution by hanging by a fast-acting military tribunal. He will be publicly executed at 4 a.m. There is nothing she can do, or should do. Let him go. He succeeded in his mission; he can finally die a hero
In a final phone call between Carrie and Brody, not much is said. He is resigned to his fate, and simply asks her not to watch. She insists she will try to get him out, even though they both know she can’t. They listen to each other breath. He hangs up first.
The execution scene is haunting and graphic. We watch Brody die slowly as a crane lifts the bright red noose tied around his neck and the crowd jeers. As he dies, he sees that Carrie, watching from the perimeter, has disregarded his final wish
The rest of the episode is an epilogue of sorts. Four months have passed. Saul is eating croissants by the Mediterranean with his happy wife. He is making boatloads in the private sector and seems genuinely relaxed.
They read in the newspaper that Iran has agreed to cooperate with international nuclear inspections; Mira congratulates him on the successful mission and the positive chain of events that have followed. Saul doesn’t get the credit, though; between the secretive nature of the job and the bloated ego of his successor, he will have to celebrate this victory privately.
Carrie is eight months pregnant and on her way to a meeting with Lockhart. He offers her a top position in Istanbul, where she can continue to orchestrate operations involving Javadi. The two have “agreed to disagree” on a number of issues, and appear to respect one another. She accepts the post, even though she has no idea how she’ll manage single-parenting and a new job in a foreign country
In a dramatic scene with her family, she confesses that she’s thinking about giving her daughter up for adoption. Her father offers to raise the child if it comes to that, and they agree to wait and see
Finally, Carrie, Saul, Quinn and Dar Adal attend an annual commemorative ceremony honoring CIA assets who gave their lives in the line of duty. Lockhart reads the list of names, and each is memorialized with a silver star fixed on the building’s wall. Brody will not receive a star; his legacy is too controversial. After everyone leaves, though, Carrie pulls out a Sharpie and quietly draws one for him
So there we have it. Brody dies; Saul retires; Lockhart takes over the agency; Carrie has a future in Istanbul, possibly wearing a Baby Bjorn; and Quinn and Dar Adal will stay at Langley. Although there is apparently a fourth season in the works, this felt like it could be a series finale
Although this season contained many missteps, I was happy to see it end on a strong note. "Homeland" has remained a (mostly) smart show, with something to say about the humanity of our supposed enemies and the blurry lines between the paranoia of national security and mental illness. In spite of everything, I still think it -- just like Brody -- deserves a star.