Homeland Season 3 Finale Review: No One Is Just One Thing

By Cory Barker

Dec 16, 2013

Homeland S03E12: "The Star"

That... that was pretty good. It doesn't totally make up for Season 3's earlier problems—in fact it sort of threw them in our face—and it still featured a few of Homeland's typical logical leaps, but "The Star" was probably about as strong of a finale the show could've delivered given the circumstances, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. There was a lot of baggage hanging over this season, for the show, for the creative team, and for us at home. I said last week that it was time for the show to move on. This is how you move on and still manage to give the departing character a few final powerful moments. 

The strongest thing about "The Star" (other than the acting, which we'll get to) was how well it not only tied some of the primary stories together but sort of emphasized that this was the only way everything could've played out, and even if Carrie and Saul wanted different outcomes, they ultimately completed their mission. It's hard to see it that way since Brody ended up hanged for murdering Akbari* and Saul ended being canned by Lockhart, who took over about a half-dozen hours earlier than he was supposed to just to make sure that Javadi's cover stayed true in Iran. But everything Saul and Carrie set into motion way back in the season premiere, from Carrie checking into the clinic to Saul trusting Javadi to stick to his word once he flipped against Iran, came to fruition here, and then some. Javadi had to take Brody out to keep his chances of real power in Iran alive and even though Saul didn't want to do it because of various reasons (loyalty to Carrie, his "old school" mentality), it was probably the right play if we're thinking on an international scale. 

*Okay, seriously. Brody drags the body into the back of the room, wipes up the blood, and sets the pillow back down on the couch, reverse side up like he's some 11-year old kid who spilled Mountain Dew Code Red while playing Halo. AND THEN he just walks out of the building, because Akbari's assistant is on a smoke break or something. That's amazing. I appreciate that the show gave us one last Unbelievable Nicholas Brody (Murder) Escape Plan. 

Those moments leading up to and right after Brody's capture showed what we already knew: Carrie and Saul were too wrapped up in other things to see that it was the right play. Carrie, obviously and perhaps rightly, was too concerned with getting Brody out of Iran, saving his life, and starting some sort of life with him. And Saul was too focused on proving that his methods worked, that Lockhart was a dumbass politician in a cheap suit, and that there's still value in saving people's lives along with successfully executing the mission. What's funny is that the people closest to both Carrie and Saul knew that the plan wasn't going to work out how they wanted. Brody knew it was probably over for him, whether he stayed in Iran or made his way back to the States, and Dar, however self-interested he may be, realized that it was time to make all of Saul and Carrie's efforts matter. I've mentioned this before, but one of the things Alex Gansa talked a lot about before and during the early part of the season was that this run of episodes was really going to underscore the impact of the lengths the characters go to as CIA agents. That's an easy thing to say, and really, that's what this show is. But I think "The Star" did a great job of making that point come to life. Carrie earned her recognition from Saul when Brody pulled off the Akbari murder, and Saul got his once Javadi made the right things happen in Iran four months later. Unfortunately, there was a price, as there always is.

Speaking of a price, what a fine farewell for Brody. It's funny how all of a show's problems can go away when it puts its two amazing actors with great chemistry in a room together and just lets them talk. The sequence in the safehouse wasn't quite as good as some of the interactions we saw from Brody and Carrie in Seasons 1 and 2, but it was certainly one of the stronger moments of this entire season. In that scene, all of the weight on Brody's shoulders, and all of the flip-flopping, was very visible on Damian Lewis's face. This was a man who recognized all of the terrible things he'd done, and also recognized that he couldn't let anyone, not even Carrie, tell him he'd found redemption. There was nowhere to go, no real life to re-discover. Even in the moment that Carrie convinced him they could make something work once they'd returned to the U.S., you got the sense Brody knew better. That's why he didn't put up a fight once Javadi and company captured him. He didn't want to be a cockroach any longer. And what a way to go out, huh? Not with a literal bang, but with a quiet, basically silent, death as Carrie shouted off in the distance.

The second half of the episode was also really, really nice. Not only was it a button on the last wild episode of an always wild show, but it also felt like a denouement for the whole series up to this point. It was also kind of amusing, because suddenly Carrie realized that the baby was an awful idea, and that she was clinging to it just because it gave her one last bit of Brody. Meredith Stiehm is back on Homeland as a writer as of this episode, and she's always had the best line on Carrie as a character. You could see that in this episode, and especially in that "four months later" coda. That was a Carrie who knew everything she had been through, but also had the self-awareness to understand that with her job and with her issues, raising a baby—in Istanbul, no less—would probably be an awful idea. And armed with what at least felt like better writing, it was really great to see Claire Danes play the version of Carrie I recognize from previous seasons. The character has been worn down by a lot, and that's the point, but she needed to find a way to move on. Hopefully this is the start of that.

Meanwhile, Saul got to take a little pleasure in knowing that he was ultimately right. The scene he shared with Dar at the diner was about as chipper and fun as the show has been all season, and it pointed to a world where Homeland isn't strapped down by Brody and can give other characters like Dar more to do while playing off Saul or Carrie. Even Lockhart, bless him, got a final little moment to be a rationale sorta asshole. He awarded Carrie a cool promotion, gave Saul his props, acknowledged that Brody did right by them in the end, but wasn't willing to honor Brody at the Star ceremony. The show figured out how to use Lockhart as the season progressed, and despite his position as an obvious foil for Carrie, Saul, and the ever-pissed Quinn, he was never fully wrong with his assertions about how to do the job. He's a politician, sure, and he does things differently, but he's not a full-on villain. 

It was one hell of a rocky ride, but ultimately, Homeland ended Season 3 about exactly where it probably should have all along, and it did so in a very, very satisfying manner. The slate is mostly clean; the show could literally go anywhere now, and that's a good thing. To say that these dozen episodes have tried our patience is probably an understatement, but you get the sense that Homeland wouldn't have it any other way. 


– Carrie putting the Sharpie star on the wall was about damn near perfect. She never, ever lets stuff go. 

– At this point, Quinn apparently spends his time just pacing around in the parking lot waiting for Carrie. He's obviously going to be her #1 draft pick for the Istanbul gig, right?

– I would have liked to see Homeland reveal how the CIA explained Brody in Iran and his death to the American press. Clearly, Javadi being able to take credit for capturing Brody helped his cause in Iran, but did the U.S. government reveal Brody's role in Akbari's murder? Was his name cleared for the CIA bombing? I'm guessing not, but would love to hear what you folks think.

– Another loose thread: Paul Franklin and the murder of the "real" CIA bomber. Is that just done? 

– This is probably the end of the road for the Brody family as well. News broke on Friday that Morgan Saylor (Dana) and Morena Baccarin (Jessica) will not return as series regulars in Season 4, and after the events of this finale, it seems there's no real need to drudge their stories up again. They'll go down as Season 3's worst, and rightfully so, but Saylor and Baccarin did their best. We'll also never learn anything more about Chris Brody's karate, which breaks my heart.

– Thanks for having me during the second half of the season. I really enjoyed the challenge of writing about the show, especially mid-crisis, just as I enjoyed your comments. I appreciate it.

What'd you think of the finale? Did it redeem Season 3 for you?

  • Comments (464)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • enbaso Feb 23, 2014

    I have just finished watching the last episode and i am still kimd of shock with Brody's murder. There was not way out for him after everything what happened in this season, that I think is the worst. But what now? If Brody dissappears this could not be named Homeland anymnore since he was the essence of the show. Now it will turn just into another CIA show, nothing special.

  • ThomasFrendo Feb 12, 2014

    Putting it simply, by killing off Brody the show creators did what most others do not have the guts to do. How many shows start off really well for the first couple of seasons but then simply drag on forever just because they are afraid to adjust their main story? Almost all shows I've seen have fallen into this pitfall and I am proud that Homeland creators recognized the signs and acted accordingly.

    Apart from this little rant, does anyone know of a replacement show please? :)

  • dewdropvelvet Sep 01, 2014


  • jaelslyric Jan 14, 2014

    I loved the first two seasons of this show. But really. . . season three just went way too far for the suspension of my disbelief. They destroyed the show with the finale -- and I wasn't THAT much of a Brody fan. I wish they had killed a pregnant Carrie! You an only milk a renegade bi-polar white woman who is bat crazy and pregnant by a terrorist sooo far . . . and to give her a promotion? I am soooo done. How long could a minority in that role with the CIA go rogue? Her story and brilliant but victimized whining is waaaayyy old at this point. Had the CIA ( or even the Iranians) killed the pregnant Carrie (who knew ALL the CIA's double dealings) would have given the show some realism back, and gave us a reason to rescue Brody so he could go crazy on everyone corrupt in BOTH governments. I agree with the rest -- they painted themselves in a corner and had to check the writers in with Carrie at the asylum to get out. I will peep the premier of season four . . . but if it continues with this Carrie is touching but invincible crap . . . I am out!

  • dewdropvelvet Sep 01, 2014

    Or what if they'd killed his wife or son? That might have reinvigorated and reincorporated Brody. Apparently a lot of critics were saying they should just kill Brody off, and they listened (The plan was to kill him off in season one anyway, so they felt they had kept him alive for long enough.) Whether they made a good choice or not is yet to be scene. I am looking forward to Quinns character being more central, and I hope he and Carrie have a romantic angle- (he's always had a thing for her, though I don't think that would happen in real life. I would think a guy like Quinn would shy away from a girl like Carrie but w/e.) I will miss Brody; Whether I will like the show without him I don't know yet. Also is the Brody family gone? I was one of the few people who liked Dana.

  • Devon39219 Jan 07, 2014

    Carrie's baby bump looked so fake.

  • udobald Dec 27, 2013

    Another great season for a great show.

  • Mar-Q Dec 25, 2013

    Also, I could not sleep after watching it either, but not because of the "gruesomeness" or "emotion" of it, but because of anger, the shitiness of it...I was "miserable" too, but again, in a different sense, not because of his death, because of the death of a good show...

  • wudntulik2know Dec 26, 2013

    Bingo. It was a piece of shit.

  • Mar-Q Dec 25, 2013

    Season started out horrible, then got great (upon Brody's return). By the end, I was thinking: another great season pulled off, until, you know...If the plan (obviously) the whole time was to lead up to Brody's death, then the writing over the whole season was even more awful than I originally thought. So many problems: The daughter thing, annoyingling pointless, but yet surprisingly ended on a good emotional note, well done. Brody's line to Carrie, "I'm coming back, and not just for her..." Again, good. Brody being "broken," almost killing himself with the hallucinagenic arm stabbing thing, sweet. Saul asking Brody to be a Marine again, testing his will to live with the whole drowning thing, and of course in the end, he shapes up, and accepts the mission, a marine again, alright! Brody looking like, once again, he is lost, siding with the "enemy," WHICH IS ONE OF THE CENTRAL, RECURRING THEMES OF THE SHOW! Where his alliances truly lie, (that and the chemistry between him and Carrie) Thus, he is part of both of the central themes of the show, from the beginning, but continuing on...He once again, makes the right decision, completes the mission, knew it! Carrie's overall pregnancy, her telling him, her emotional speech about fate bring them together for a reason, or whatever. "That's not crazy at all," he responds, the first (and strongest) sign of the their chemistry reigniting, in awhile. Then, suddenly, he is caught, gives up, and starts spouting shit again about I dunno, can't specifically remember\don't care, the just: "being tired...wanting it to end...not being a good guy...redemption..." So in the end, all that fantastic writing, emotional depth, build up...all literally for fucking nothing! Why even write her being pregnant to begin with then? It just makes me so angry! If they really deemed it necessary for him to be killed off, it could have been done much better. My thought was him killing Jevadi aswell, for shooting his friend, thus comprising the mission before being killed himself. THEN, small chance I might have "been interested to see where next season goes," but 0 interest now. Brody is the show (well as I said before, a central part of the main themes, him AND Carrie. Both are essential.) and now he is dead...

    - Sucks aswell if Saul is actually gone too. And here there was terrible writing aswell. I can understand wanting to spare his wife's feelings from "being humiliated," very admirable, but that does not mean he has to get back with her. How many times has she screwed around with him\behind his back? And in the end they are perfectly happy, no mention of any of it...Annoyed the hell out of me.

    - Carrie and Brody should definitely have done it once more at least, at the safehouse...

    - You just don't kill off an actor like Damien Lewis! Career suicide for a series. He was what originally, and instantly sparked my interest in the show. Saw his name, knew it would be good...the original basic synopsis I remember, "An American Marine\POW is found alive after several years and is suspected of being turned upon returning home." He was at the centre of it, from the beginning...FUCK!

  • ruthiepearlman Dec 23, 2013

    I cannot remember another TV show where I was unable to separate reality from fiction. I literally couldn't sleep after witnessing that gruesome hanging. I would really like to know how they did it whilst keeping Damien safe. I think he is an awesome actor and I'm proud I live just down the road from where he was born.

    As to the series itself; it started off pathetically slowly; I was almost ready to give up on it, when it suddenly took off like a rocket that you are almost going to go back to, in order to relight. I was mesmerised by all of it. I LOVE Carrie's character; she's so flawed and human. Brodie is a tragic figure; he's had such a miserable life. I found myself thinking back on all the series looking for parts in which he'd been happy, and I was hard pushed to find any. HIs death was like his life; tragic, pitiful, and alone. I am really miserable now!

    Yes there are parts where you have to suspend disbelief; the way he covered up the assassination; the walking out of the secure building. Have any of you watched the original Israeli series on which Homeland was based? Prisoners of War? It's not as dramatic as Homeland with good reason; it's much more realistic...slower, but real. I know Israel and Israelis and this was the real McCoy. Watch it if you can get hold of it. I have series 2 waiting to be watched now.

    As a journalist it would be my dream to interview Damien Lewis. Get in touch, lad!

    Ruthie Pearlman

  • Edupinn Dec 22, 2013

    Not the best season, but it ultimately paid off. Broody's death was inevitable, not only for what had happened throughout the season, but for his actual role. He was completely apart from the rest of the characters (and I never really liked him, so I'm cool).
    I just expected a hook for the next season, like something exploding up (again)...

  • googlehoop Dec 22, 2013

    Once we got past the reveal of Saul and Carrie's plan, the rest of Season 3 improved by leaps and bounds. The season finale was an excellent episode. Brody's death was inevitable and perfectly written. It is sad to see such a fine actor go, but nevertheless for the sake of the show it had to happen. It will be interesting to see where Season 4 takes us.

  • See More Comments (209)