Homeland: 3.12 - The Star
At the start of Homeland's last season three episode, the big mission objective is achieved: Brody has killed a high-value Iranian target, leaving US asset Jivadi free to move into power. All that's left, then, is for our two main characters Brody and Carrie to get out of Tehran alive. Unfortunately, Brody's had a certain air of doomed misery hanging off him for the last third of the season, so it's not as certain as you might think that he'll get out in one piece.
So did he make it? Was the episode good? What word of Homeland's future? Let's find out. Watch on 4OD lest I spoil it for you.
Brodying from the wreckageRemember last year's Homeland finale? Carrie and Brody survived the main action of the year and ran away together for a little romantic getaway, before things went wrong to set up season 3. Well, this episode is the evil twin of that one, especially the opening twenty minutes. The lovelorn twosome escape, make it to a secluded location and Carrie clearly expects an overjoyed romantic reunion. Unfortunately, this is post-trauma season 3 Brody she's dealing with, and he can't stop himself thinking about his destructive, cockroach-like ability to keep crawling from the wreckage.
Even unveiling her pregnancy only gives the shattered guy's will to live a small boost, and when the Iranians turn up to arrest him, after Saul's power to get Carrie/Brody off the hook runs out, he clearly sees it as nothing more than what he deserves. And then, after Carrie works us through a string of heartrending tearful scenes, Brody finally, finally dies. Admittedly, hanging wasn't the most dignified way for Damian Lewis to bow out, but fair play to him for committing to it.
It's hard not to see a certain amount of meta-commentary in the miserable life and death of season 3 Brody. The Homeland writers have all but said Brody was still alive at the end of season 2 because Showtime wouldn't let him die, and now they finally have licence to finish him off, he spends ages talking in despairing, fatalist tones about how he keeps surviving, no matter what, and he just doesn't know why. All credit to them for turning the entire situation into a compelling narrative. I don't know where the show goes next, but I do think the final two thirds of season 3 - after a slightly odd start - have been great, highly watchable TV.
Homeland leaves its home country?And then it's epilogue time! When this twenty minute fade-out started up, I expected a backdoor pilot for season 4, basically - a chance for the writers to make it clear to us that Brody dying does not mean the end of Homeland, and here is the exciting tone and situation we can look forward to next year. That kinda happens - months later, Saul has moved from the CIA into the New York private sector, Carrie is all set to become a station chief in Istanbul, once she's finally got rid of this damn baby, Quinn seems to have forgotten his aspirations to one day quit.
The baby is one of the oddest plot decisions in this season, it seemed to appear and now get quietly shuffled away. Perhaps this is a feint, and there are big plans for Matheson-Brody Jr next year. Maybe it really did exist only for the poignant moments in the final scenes of this episode. Speaking of offspring, I was surprised the Brody family weren't rolled out for one last scene reacting to Daddy's execution.
All told, it felt like a series finale, to tell the truth. Not because I think Homeland couldn't function without Brody, but because it genuinely seemed like everyone was being squared away, in a way that ends their stories rather than promising new ones. If season 4 turns out to be awful, at least we can look back, point clearly at this episode and say "Well, they should've stopped it there". For now, though, season 3 has been excellent. My faith in Showtime's ability to let a property go was shaken by their milking of poor Dexter, but at least they finally realised Nicholas Brody's time had come. I look forward to next year with interest.