The finale of “Homeland” Season 2 was an appropriately epic and totally off the wall conclusion to a narrative arc that prioritized constant, edge-of-your-seat dramatic momentum, even at the occasional cost of believability.
First, the basics:
The episode began at Carrie’s aunt’s picturesque cabin in the woods, the two lovebirds finally free to juggle produce and watch the sunset together. It’s clear that Quinn is stalking them at their hideout, but they seem oblivious. They feel so safe that when Brody unearths a handgun in the cabin, Carrie removes the bullets and shoves the weapon back in the drawer.
Snuggled up on the couch, they have their first realistic conversation about their relationship. Although Brody is excited about his chance for a clean slate, Carrie is more conflicted. She knows she’ll have to choose between fulfillment with Brody and credibility at the CIA.
In the morning, Carrie steps out and Quinn has his chance to kill Brody at point blank range. He decides against it, and creepily shows up at Estes’ house to let his boss know that he’s decided Brody should be left alone. “I’m a guy that kills bad guys,” he announces, and it becomes clear that this rogue agent is signed on for another season.
In the morning, the pair heads back to the burbs and Brody takes the opportunity to clear the air. Over a few sips of beer, he encourages Mike to resume his role as the father figure in the Brody family. Why does this feel so final?
Brody stops at home to change clothes and is confronted by Dana, who can’t stop thinking about the day when Carrie kept yelling something about a suicide vest. Brody admits to Dana that even though Carrie was telling the truth that day, he’s glad he didn’t do it.
Saul, meanwhile, is finally released form three days of detention on Estes’ permission. He doesn’t seem to believe Estes’ explanation that he came to see the error of his ways and let Brody go, but he’ll take it for now. He heads out to supervise Abu Nazir’s burial at sea, which is performed by Muslim officers with dignity and respect.
Brody, too, is dressing for a memorial. The CIA is hosting a service for Vice President Walden, former head of the agency. Carrie and Brody sit on opposite sides of the room but can’t stop making eye contact. Ridiculously, Brody nearly rolls his eyes as Estes praises Walden’s use of drones.
I mean, listen, I never killed anyone, but if I had the gall to show up to my victim’s funeral, I’d probably try to avoid looking like an ass. Compounding this juvenile behavior, Brody and Carrie bail on the service to make out in an office. Smirking and tiptoeing around like kids escaping from a school assembly, they barely notice Brody’s car pulled up just outside the conference hall when …
BLAM. A car bomb emanating from Body’s SUV flattens the agency’s headquarters. Unlike everyone paying their respects to Walden, Carrie and Brody are still alive. This doesn’t look good for them. Brody convinces a very confused Carrie that he’s been set up (she doesn’t take much convincing). The two run from the building with a crazy plan that Carrie’s had all along to canoe to Newfoundland or something.
Back from the funeral ship, Saul arrives to find that he’s now the ranking officer at the CIA. About 200 people are presumed dead, and we wonder whether any of those 27 survivors saw Carrie and Brody sneak out? (A question for next season.)
Glued to the television for news, the Brodys receive federal investigators who have come to the house for evidence. They are horrified to see Brody’s confession video – originally supposed to have aired following the (aborted) suicide vest attack – play onscreen.
Al Qaeda has claimed responsibility for the attacks and released the clip of Brody’s supposed confession. Dana looks particularly heartbroken as she replays her conversation earlier in the day with her father against this version of him on the TV.
Finally, Carrie drives Brody out to the woods and points him toward a trail, which leads to a boat, which leads to a safe house, or something. It’s hard to imagine this is all remotely plausible, even more so because of her own decision to head back to the CIA rather than enacting this romantic escape. She arrives back at Langley to find Saul saying kaddish over the bodies of the multitudes killed by the car bomb.
Now, the good:
There’s no one I trust more than Saul to lead the CIA. Abu Nazir’s funeral rites were haunting in a good way. Quinn comes into his own as a Jules Winnfield-level enforcer of righteousness. Carrie retains her position at the heart of the show.
There was a lot crammed into this episode, and at times the frenetic pace got downright silly. What, that was your car? Everyone’s dead? There’s a secret plan to abscond to Newfoundland? Dad didn’t do it – unless he DID??! In other words, it’s possible that Homeland writers have been listening to a little too much jazz, amirite?
She’s back, but it’s hard to imagine how Carrie will explain having survived the blast, and how much she’ll be willing to confide to Saul about her own role in Walden’s death and Brody’s escape. Also, who is Quinn and what will his role be? Will he and Carrie fall in love? (yes.) Most importantly, who planted the car bomb and what did Brody know about it? Did he just kill everybody and trick Carrie into sneaking him out of the country? (maybe.)
Finally, Saul’s brief moment of solemnity was the only reaction we had to how the characters will process this devastating attack. Let’s hope the show takes a bit more of a pause to let the characters breathe before resuming the frenetic pace in season three. (unlikely.)
The bottom line:
Despite the occasional lapses in dialog and plotlines, I’ll be back for more next year. In the meantime, can I buy you a Rolling Rock?