Homeland: A War With No Winners

There were no real happy endings in the Season 1 finale of Homeland, "Marine One," a tense episode of television that's beyond commending the acting, plotting, and pacing (but we'll do it anyway). The good guys did not win even though the highest levels of our government survived Season 1 in one piece, and the bad guys failed in their terrorist plot yet may have come upon something even more harmful to America. Welcome to Homeland, the scariest show on television.

There are bound to be people on both sides of the border between "Liked it" and "Didn't like it," as the episode dodged an explosive ending after so much build up. But "Marine One" brought up more frightening ideas and found a way to extend a series that had plenty of questions regarding longevity. Are those questions answered absolutely? No. But after a stellar Season 1, Homeland has earned our benefit of the doubt. And I, for one, am already F5'ing Showtime's Web site to find out when Season 2 will debut.

Homeland had always been about sniffing out the terrorists and showing some devious ways with which the CIA goes about gaining intelligence. Illegal surveillance, putting informants at risk, intermittently blasting speed metal into suspects' brains to crack them. We excused those nefarious methods (speed metal, ack!) for the safety of our country, realizing that the violation of a few human rights was okay as long as it was in the name of the War on Terror as Carrie inched closer to snaring Abu Nazir, Homeland's fictional source of all the nightmares that keep America awake at night. "Marine One" opened a whole new door leading to a room of high-level cover-ups, eye-for-an-eye justice, and questions of who is in the right.

The most terrifying scenes never even involved Carrie or Brody. They involved Estes and Vice President Walden in the back of a limo discussing how they're going to squash Saul's query on the classified documents containing information on the drone that took a school and 82 children off the map. They involved Estes in his office butting heads with Saul, justifying hiding wayward attacks based on 80-percent hunches out of the public's eye because that information would give would-be terrorists an excuse to strap on a load of dynamite. "Marine One" took huge steps to say that America's War on Terror is more than just hindered by bureaucracy as we saw in the first 11 episodes; it's hit a brick wall that will see no winners no matter how much blood is shed by either side because each side is willing to do whatever it takes to win. If you left the episode feeling completely bummed and hopeless and angry about the state of affairs in the world today, you weren't alone.

Brody now has a new mission that would make conspiracy theorists drool: instead of blowing up the highest levels of government to smithereens, his new orders are to infiltrate them from within, buddy up with the future president, nudge policies in the wrong direction, and feed knowledge to the country's biggest enemy. In addition to being a snazzy way to keep Damian Lewis around for next season (his 72 virgins will have to wait), it opens up the possibilities for Season 2 to explore a completely new level. Season 2 has the potential to examine a scenario in which America isn't just given a bruise by killing the country's next generation of leaders, it's poisoned to the point of destruction by replacing its leaders with one of their own. Brody was right. Blowing up Walden is just a short-term victory for his cause. Nazir got it. "Why kill a man when you can kill an idea?"

Carrie meanwhile... oh lordy, Carrie. I can't be the only one who kind of wanted to see Brody pull of his plan just to vindicate Carrie. Did you find it frustrating that you knew she was right all along, or was it exhilarating? Her weakness, her illness, forever alienates her from her coworkers, from her friends, and, to some extent, from us. Getting close to her is dangerous as her methods are insane, but we can't help but be pulled in by her brilliance. She's an unreliable hero that inspires us and frightens us at the same time. She's an at-arm's-length kind of friend.

On the other hand, we have Brody. We've spent much of the season wondering who he is, and now that we know, we should be cursing his name and wishing him dead. But Homeland has managed to make him a very real person. We've seen him be Father of the Year. We've felt for him as the short straw in the best-friend-moving-in-on-his-wife affair. We saw the guy organically fall in love, for crying out loud. And it was sweet! Good lord, I have to admit I'm having a hard time hating the guy, even though he was ready to jihad the country's leaders.

So here we have a good guy that's certifiable and permanently damaged, and a bad guy that's sympathetic and working on belief. Carrie and Brody. America and those that seek to destroy it. But Homeland isn't saying who is who or which is which or that placing them into the roles in the first sentence of this paragraph has a right or wrong answer. "Marine One" was a thought provoking, uncomfortable, and risky finale that dared to approach a sensitive topic in a dangerous way and capped a brilliant season of television's best new program.

Notes:
– Speaking of uncomfortable, those final shots of Carrie undergoing advanced shock therapy: SCARY. Will her sister remember what she said about Brody knowing Nazir's son? How much of Carrie's memory will the treatment destroy? Now who is the one who is brainwashed?

– I really loved the plan to use Walker's skills as a distraction to get an armed Brody in a room with the VIPs. I can never get enough of those moments when you realize something is going on as it's going on. I'm also curious to see why Nazir thought Walker was such a wild card and how Walker was turned.

– Yes, the bomb not working was a convenient device to maintain tension without wasting main characters. But Homeland is going to be a series of near misses, it has to be by nature. The question is how many near misses can the show continue to dole out before it loses its credibility and believability with us?

Homeland did for the War on Terror what The Wire and Traffic did for the War on Drugs by calling attention to a subject we don't like to admit is completely screwed up.

– I still have that lingering question of whether or not that predator drone strike and his relationship with Nazir's son was enough to get Brody to turn. "Marine One" did help that cause by showing Walden actively covering up the strike, but given all that Brody has to lose–his life, his family, his loyalty–it's hard to believe that one incident could turn him completely opposite in the other direction.

– I don't think I need to mention it because it's so damned obvious, but I'd be remiss if I didn't: the acting from Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Mandy Patinkin is about as close to flawless as you can get. I'll pay money to see Danes and Patinkin share scenes. I know some people aren't fans of Dana, but I also thought Morgan Saylor did an outstanding job in one of TV's most difficult roles: the teenage daughter.

– I have a scheduled interview with Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa this morning, so be sure to check back to read our discussion. I have plenty of questions I hope to ask if I can wake up in time!


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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Fantastic. Both the season finale and the recaps.
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I love this show and I don't think Brody turned, he said it in the video he doesn't hate the country, he hates the people who is in the government for killing children and cover that up. Also I think Carrie is awesome she just need an adjustment on her pills.
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but whatever is said this show is amazing, the cast (especially claire danes who has really surprised me considering the *cough* film stardust) and just the level of production and writing - if you're not watching then you are truly missing out!
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two points



firstly the whole thing with her remembering just as she potentially forgets everything is a pretty overused cliffhanger and i felt it ruined the amazing episode and series (allowed as a cliffhanger of a episode but not of a series!!)



secondly with regardes to how many near misses it can have (don't forget that 'women' did die) but also 24 went on for 8 seasons (and despite the similarities are very different shows) but homeland will definately have the 'bad' people succeed occasionally so you won't know which plot will be foiled and which will actually work!!
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Tim, you were right on to give accolades to Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morgan Saylor, and Mandy Patinkin in the series. The show is character driven and they are the best of the best in acting right now. This is not to say that the others in Homeland are not doing a fine job too, but these four have brought to life people we will be discussing for a long time. I enjoy the show and could watch it back to back for weeks, since there is not anything as good on any other channel. Yes. This show is about something we do not want to discuss, but we think about it often. Thanks to you for keeping the thought out front.
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I thought the season finale was brilliant. Yet, it was so dissatisfying to have Carrie not be vindicated. The only person who has the ability who has memories that can uncover part of the truth. Like Cassandra, she has all this information and no one listens to her.
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Tim, I have a friend in Switzerland who was once watching a live news feed from Iraq while we were talking on the phone. An American plane had just attacked a small village and parents were picking up pieces of their children off the street--arms, legs and heads completely blown off. I searched the American news media and never found a word about that attack or the dozen or so children who were "collateral damage." Yet people around the world saw it happen live.



The question is not how that could motivate someone to want to kill the people responsible, but how people can excuse those responsible for the slaughter. There is a reason why those kinds of war atrocities (on all sides) are covered up by the perpetrators. Very few Americans would support the War on Terror if we actually had to watch the terror our government perpetrates on innocent foreigners.



"Homeland" is doing us a great service by dramatizing the complex moral issues involved in the wars we are unknowingly supporting. There are plenty of good reasons to sympathize with Brody, even when he is most wrong, like trying to detonate that vest.
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Great Review Tim! What an exhilarating first season. And I agree with your comment of how this show is likened to "The Wire"; it hits home on some of the issues that none of us REALLY want to get involved with. Shoving it in our faces is probably the best way to unearth some of our fears and dispel them all the same. A tour-de-force of acting, twists and turns at every corner, and a premise that will have us talking for quite sometime; my my, we are in for some excellent television next season.
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Tim, I think the even bigger question around the drone/Brody turning story is how massively it depended on the huge coincidence of the son dying. I can't imagine how Brody ending up as he is without that occurring and yet it can't have been planned. But I shouldn't complain because it was a fantastic episode.
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There is no doubt that this finale was superbly acted. I was nervous and really felt the tension... it was a script well executed. However, ask me if I like the script? Not especially. I do feel cheated. I don't like the fact that the bomb didn't go off and Brody is still in the picture. I love this show as a whole and for that reason I will tune in to Season 2 BUT, this season finale does NOT entice me to tune in. So in my mind, it failed. Usually, I feel so annoyed after a season finale because I don't want to wait a year to find out what happens next. With Homeland, I'm afraid to know... because I have a feeling it's going to be repetitive and boring. I don't like that Carrie is extremely unlikely to go back to the CIA and I don't like the "kill the idea" plot. Ugh! And for those people who believe you cannot kill a main character like Brody in a first season, watch the first season of The Game of Thrones and than we can talk. Obviously, this is IMHO... to each their own:)
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I was going to write a long comment stating what I thought of the episode, but you already said it all better than I could. I just hate that Brody didn't really explode! I liked the episode as an ending to season 1, but I just hate it as a prequel to season 2.
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BTW: Interesting article about the drone war in today's Washington Post (available online for free): "Secrecy defines Obama's drone war" by Karen DeYoung
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Absolutely brilliant! It's 24, with more brains. Best first season of a show since Breaking Bad.
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I'm extremely happy with the finale but I think it depends very much on how you managed your expectations if you were satisfied by it or not. When they announced a second season it was clear that they would have to "water down" the finale a bit: it would become a season finale not a series finale. And there's another aspect to it: in a way, this show has always been a hybrid - on the one hand it is a 24-like action drama, but on the other hand it's a psychological drama. I think this was reflected in the climactic scenes in the bunker: actually letting Brody flip the switch was pure 24 while Dana stopping her dad followed the logic of the psychological drama. - And this is my only criticism of the finale: I think the writers wanted to have it both ways. In my opinion it would have been enough to let Dana call Brody and talk him down just BEFORE he attempted to blow himself up. That's where the psychological drama was headed all season long. We observed how Brody started to reconnect to people, how the family life and his relationship to Carrie had a profound effect on him and how he started to have more and more qualms and second-thoughts. So the Brody-Dana phone call (instigated by Carrie in a dramatic scene) would have been climax enough by itself. It was a little disconcerting to get an anticlimax (Brody's "wardrobe malfunction") right before the actual climax (which was great!).



As the central scene of the episode was reserved for Dana and Brody the writers had the problem of wrapping up Carrie's storyline. And what they did was imo very gutsy: not to let the main character get any vindication (not even personally for herself, as she will probably have short-term memory loss) constituted one of the bleakest endings to any show I've seen on TV. Of course it was a convenient reset but it didn't feel too contrived.



The other commentators already mentioned the open questions that keep us interested in a second season. I'd just like to add that personally I hope they will follow the path of the psychological drama even more consequently. They did some great character development in the first season and now we're all very invested in the lives not only of the main characters but also of the "sidekicks" like Brody's family (especially Dana), Virgil, Mike, Estes etc. IMO it will strain believability if they put to much emphasis on the 24-part: Brody's political career will be a hard sell. - That said, after such a fantastic first season, I put great trust in the writers that they will also deliver in the second season. - Big time!

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i thinl saul passed the razor blade maybe hes pissed that his job has killed his relationship and witness's all the bad stuff the gov does to get intel

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Who has the video???? That's going to be interesting as season two starts. I'm kind of hoping Dana found it (she'd been suspicious of her dad for a while, maybe she'd been following him around). I think she's the closest to seeing her dad for who he is. I think she's found it and has watched it, but is keeping it a secret for now, because, well it's her dad and she doesn't want him to go away again?
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i like how saul switched off the drone strike footage because if they kept watching they would see brody searching for issa,s body
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How exactly? The drone footage was black and white filmed from miles away. This isn't CSI where they can zoom-in indefinitely to get HD closeup of whats going on. Besides when Brody was looking for Issa there was dust everywhere and no one would even think to look for him since he was presumed dead at the time.
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Haha, I was thinking about the finale and remembered Virgil. He is like the sweetest guy around and such a good friend to Carrie. 'Hey, look, you know you are' in response to Carrie asking if she was crazy, was probably my favorite line of the episode. It was so honestly delivered that I chuckled even though the situation was anything but funny.
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Absolutely agree. Virgil fascinated me all season long. They still haven't told us why he's so fond of Carrie and why she takes him for granted. I'm eager to know what's behind this relationship (they're not related, I think). And I can already picture them driving around in that van arguing all the time when Carrie has to freelance in the second season. It will be an almost comical duo.
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First, of all I am a little concerned as to wether or not Mandy Patinkin will stay with this show. After all he did leave Criminal Minds. I am glad that the bomb did not go off, although part of me was hoping it would so that Carrie would be vindicated. Now, she just seems like a crazy, obsessed and spurned lover that no one will take seriously. I can already see her slinking around Sal trying to gain information and keep herself involved.
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Didn't like it. Disappointed. I'm out. No season 2 for me.
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huh? o_O
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Well your loss mate!
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Agree with pretty much every part of this review.

I thought the writer's had painted themselves into a corner with this, seeing as we pretty much knew Brody was going to make it through alive (their would hardly be a decent season 2 without him), but I loved the way they got out of it. All the bunker scenes were electrifyingly tense.

And I love Carrie's decent into total madness, especially when we all know she's right on the money. That kind of dramatic irony is the essence of great TV.
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Nom de dieu ! Pardon my french guys cause this show was awesome, period !



I can understand that people wanted to see a big explosion as a conclusion but I'm glad it did not happen. Last week, I explained that I did not understand how Nazir would have made so much work in order to "just" assassinate the VP whereas he had the opportunity to have a first-class lobbyist to protect his interests in Brody as a politician. A fellow commentator even answered that a massive terrorist attack would still be a good thing. Well it looks like we were both right ! Actually, I'm just disappointed that Nazir, as smart as he was depicted during the show, had not thought about it before Brody himself suggested it. That's for me the only weak spot because we all thought about it around episode 4 or 5, when we heard for the first time about the political angle of Brody's return (Tim even mentioned it in its review if I recall correctly). Everything else was perfect.



I got into this show hoping for spy games, mind games. That's exactly what we had and I don"t really understand how people can say that the finale made them less interested in the second season. That finale just promised us an even bigger plot than this season's one. Of course, the fact that Carrie knows about Brody will come out during that second season (my bet is it's gonna be pretty early). I even think that Saul will be the paranoid agent with suspicions. But for all we know, the second season could be taking place several years after the first, which would be a way to rise the stakes for all protagonists and rebalanced the credibility-factor between Brody and Carrie.



That segment inside the bunker was packed with tension. The faulting vest, the phone call and that sticky camera right before Lewis were breath-taking. Even if you wished to see an explosion, I don't understand how you can disappointed of how the thing was handled.



To conclude, I'd say that a happy ending would have been Carrie being listened to and Brody getting arrested. An unhappy ending would have been Brody managing to blew himself up with all the VIPs. We got something in-between. Some call that ducking out, others call it subtlety. Myself, I'd say it's.... something in-between ;)
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When walker shot the woman, it took about half a second to realise the brilliance, and actually shouted out "You Crafty B*****ds", then when the bomb didn't go off i started thinking about season 2. One thing that got me though, when Brody was led out of the safe room, the Secret Service agent held his back, did he not feel the bomb? and when the metal detector went off on the way out did nobody think to check him?
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I enjoyed the season. I didn't expect Brody to complete his mission. It was obvious to me the main 3 would still be around next season (Saul, Carrie, Brody). I was totally impressed with the overall story line for this season, and look forward to next.



My complaint with the show is the way Brody was turned, and/or the conviction he has for the cause. After we learn without a doubt he was turned, we don't ever really see Brody struggle with his choice. His conviction doesn't ever seem to waver, or at least not enough. I would have liked a few more scenes where he was obviously conflicted after spending time with his family.



If Brody was single I could buy it easier, it just seems there is enough at home that he would at least question his choice more, especially with something as extreme as a bomb vest.
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The phone call between Brody and his daughter was immaculate. It was more exciting than an explosion would have been, watching him torn apart inside, debating upon whose loyalty to stay true to. Lewis is brilliant, as is the show. I hope they can keep up the quality next season, but I don't doubt they will.
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This here people is good TV! The acting and the story line are both superb. And the last scene with Carrie undergoing the shock therapy was creepy. For a second there when her toes were twitching, I thought the shocks were real.



And by the way, it makes perfect sense that Brody didn't kill himself. Why do you people wish he had blown himself up? Are you masturbating at home over the idea that the arrogant CIA was blind to the plot, and only Carrie could see it? And if he had blown himself you could gleefully point your finger at the CIA and go: "Haha, you were wrong, Carrie was right. This is what you get for not listening to her!" This show is about the cat and mouse game between Carrie and Brody+Nazir. It is also about Brody battling with himself and his loyalties. It would have made no sense killing him off.
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Oh thank god! It's nerve racking disagreeing with Price. He's a hero of mine, so it was an unpleasant experience to say the least. You're one of the most respected commenters on this site, and I don't think I could have taken on both of you. I'm glad your opinion of the finale closely matches mine.
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Seriously dude stop kissing his ass, he doesn't deserve it.
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Staff
Don't forget Tim! All three of you guys are in agreement, and he's way smarter than I am. I've been bugging him on IM all day about this, so I'm sure he's relieved that now I'm bugging you.
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Staff
It wouldn't make sense to kill him off if this were a franchise to be maintained over several seasons. I think myself and others were hoping for less predictability. We predicted Brody would survive (he IS a main character, after all). I think we were hoping for a shock, but Carrie was the only one who actually got one.
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I knew he'd survive, but it was the way he survived that made it interesting for me. I didn't see a lot of what happened coming. For starters, I thought he would end up as a "good guy", and that Nazir had killed his own kid to frame the US. Glad it didn't turn out that way.
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OK, I do see how Brody dying would make sense in several scenarios. If the show was about Carrie/CIA hunting down terrorist - not a specific one, but terrorists in general - it would make sense to have Brody kick the bucket and start a new plot line in season two. Also, if Brody was only one piece of a very large puzzle, someone who is expendable and can die without the plan being affected (like Walker did), the Nazir plot line could continue without him. But I don't see how his death would work in this specific show. To me, the show is very much about the individuals and their relationships, like the phone call between Brody and Dana. Personally, I care very little about whether Nazir succeeds in one or many terror attacks. I care more about how the people involved are affected. Does this make the show predictable? Yes. Not for a second did I think that Brody was going to be blown up. But I was already set on the aftermath of his failure, how he was going to explain it to Nazir and how he was going to face himself.



Also, I think that making shows unpredictable can turn on itself. Many quality shows (mainly cable) are so set on surprising people that you are almost expecting it. The unpredictable becomes predictable. For example in this season of Dexter, everyone was talking about how pretty much half of the cast should be killed of, because there needs to be a twist to the story. And I'm sitting there waiting eagerly to find out who it's going to be, but then no one was killed. That lack of surprise completely surprised me! In the case of Brody, I don't think one way or another would have surprised me. He was already in the hot seat, so everyone was expecting some kind of an outcome no matter what. I'm all for unpredictability, but it needs to be done well. When all eyes were on Brody, everything was predictable. On the other hand, if a bullet shot by Walker had ricocheted through the window of the building and hit Saul in the forehead, now that would have been unpredictable!
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Devastating, but unpredictable! These are great points. You're right, I think I just brought my own wish list to a show that's doing its own thing. I still thought it was a great episode, but I just wanted something more to hang my hat on for the next eight months. I want to be able to re-watch this season knowing there's an Oh Shit, 4 New Cylons moment at the end of it. I'm not asking for anything crass, just something memorable.



Another thing is, I found it super disheartening seeing Carrie so completely marginalized without so much as a wink from Brody or a professional acknowledgment from her job. You know, ANY glimmer of hope or a reason to keep going. To use a tacky screenwriter term, this was her Dark Night of the Soul moment, but the season just ended there without giving us more resolution or a promise of redemption. I love the Brody character (the phone call with Dana was killer), but I just can't shake the notion that the finale was more about establishing a long-running franchise rather than re-inventing TV narratives. I know not every good show has to re-invent things, but for a minute there I was hoping Showtime had found its own Breaking Bad. Instead it seems to have found its new Dexter. (Which isn't intended as much of an insult as it probably sounds).
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Dana is the best teenager on tv. Moody like they should be but not a brat.



I think the reason Nazir thought Walker needed to be killed is that he served his purpose. If he were to be arrested he could blow Brody's cover. therefore he needed to DIE!
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Wow so much bashing on this site anymore. Makes me wonder why I still come here and read these reviews. There was nothing wrong with this season of Dexter and to mock Homeland after a awesome first season just because one episode and a good episode at that is just stupid.



Where you all really expecting Brody to blow himself up? If that happened it would have to be a mini series and not a full blown show. And even so what would be the point in that? so Brody blows up that bomb what would it have solved what would be the point of the show..
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Staff
Did you read the piece?
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All 12 episodes of this show were great. And so was the ending. If you'd think about it killing off either of the two main characters would have destroyed any chance of it coming back successfully next year. Yes it would have come back but there'd have to be all new lead actors and the chances of anyone pulling off the tension and style of this season would be minimal and it certainly wouldn't be the same show. Remember, this wasn't a made for TV movie or a mini-series. It's a continuing series and if you're going to invest your time in a continuing series the characters have to be there from one year to the next.
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Couldn't watch the part were he was about to flip the switch for the first time and u were thinking, is he really going to do it, no is he really? Now that's tension, that's captivating and that's a season finale. Season finales are mean't to leave you asking more questions and not have all the answers, that's what series finales are for. People wanted Brody to go ahead and blow himself and have a completely different case for season 2?? Where are you goin to get a character like that and most importantly, an actor as good as that after you blow him up?? and before you know it, you'll have a ridicule of a show like 24 were it's the same plot, but with diff characters. I can't wait for the 2nd season coz i want to know were they are goin with the show. Geez, fans are so impatient, let the story unfold and if you do not like the direction, i'm sure another new show will have started by then. Let's see where this goes : )
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There was no tension in that scene for me whatsoever. Call me jaded, but this is Hollywood and Carrie + Saul + Brody = $$ and I didn't believe for even one microsecond that they would mess with that formula.
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I thought they might. Homeland has some BALLS to toy with the idea that terrorists might not be the bad guys.
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Staff
I've slept on it and I'm still really disappointed. This was a great, tense episode, but as a season finale it was a failure. I just don't think it's gutsy storytelling to omit an ending. As viewers we have implicit trust in the writers to lead us through the beginning, middle and end of a story throughout a season, and this felt like a cynical attempt to prolong a franchise rather than give us a remotely satisfying ending (or even twist for Season 2). The idea that Brody could have any meaningful influence on presidential policy is ludicrous and low-stakes (and, you know, 18 months away?), plus Carrie's last minute remembrance of Issa's name isn't that impressive considering she'd uncovered a number of damning connections throughout the season that never panned out. Saul's discovery of the drone strike coverup seemed way too tangential to be a satisfying vindication of Carrie's paranoia, and now season 2 promises us a central character with literal brain damage and no CIA credentials? Great. Ultimately Homeland refused us one of the traditional storytelling elements we require (conclusions) and all that means is I'm left to stew over just how much other major story elements aren't stacking up. All the Issa stuff just seems so lame. The death of another man's child during wartime would make Brody want to leave his own children fatherless? Brainwashing I can buy, but the idea that Brody's of sound mind and doing these act of terror because his heart tells him to? And why wouldn't the fact that his own sniper partner turned immediately cast suspicion on Brody who until then had claimed his partner was dead? Why would Estes be a difficult contrarian toward Saul ALL THE TIME? I have a hard time believing the CIA of all places would actively ignore ANY intel, let alone from someone as widely recognized as Carrie and Saul. I don't know. The biggest condemnation I can give this season finale is it made me LESS interested in Season 2. I'm pretty bummed about that.
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Price I disagree with you that this episode didn't feel like a finale. For me the season was about the art of preventing terrorism so from Carrie's perspective (albeit unknowing) we reached a kind of apotheosis by her pulling off the best terrorism prevention move ever. Her not even realising this and getting no credit for it points to the strength of the show. Because that was such a gripping moment for me I was happy for the show to wind down, I guess, towards the end of the episode. I do agree with you that the episode leaves the prospects for Season 2 weaker than they could have been. This does worry me, but hopefully the writers have an awesome grand plan that we just can't see at the moment, and the show will remain unpredictable and character-driven. It's probably not fair to compare it to Dexter but I'm hopeful that Homeland is less susceptible to that trajectory because it's less of a procedural.
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Price, I agree with many of your criticisms re: Brody's motivation and the peripheral nature of the drone info. The same thoughts ran through my mind, especially after watching episode 9. But it didn't bother me like it bothered you. I know it would have been gratifying to see a huge explosion to conclude the season (and thereby conclude the life of the main character in the show!), I'm ok with it. This isn't a movie - it's TV, and isn't it the nature of television to find ways to "prolong the franchise" (nice way of putting it, BTW!)? I was totally wishing for Brody to blow everyone up too (to vindicate Carrie, like Tim mentioned), but I'm glad Damian Lewis will be back next season and I think the "love story" and dynamic between those two is as captivating as any bomb. Plus, I was on the edge of my seat, scared, anxious, shouting "OH MY GOD! NO! OH MY GOD HE HAS A BOMB ON HIM! NO WAY! BLAH BLAHBLAH! etc.", during the entire episode and it was fun! It was entertaining! The acting was absolutely incredible, so I believed what everyone was doing and that they had their own good reasons behind their actions. And I'm excited to see what happens next season. I agree with Arch_Angel88 in that I think this show is actually a very grounded, human story, rather than simply a blockbuster movie type thing where it's all about the action. But we'll see! I guess we have to wait a year to find out. My 2 cents. Please don't be mad at me or Homeland, ok!? We love you!
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I think where I disagreed with Arch_Angel88 about the groundedness of this show is how it conveniently overlooked this show's truly great action sequences and literal explosions. It doesn't have to be either-or; this is a show with some really great and subtle character work in addition to pulse-pounding blockbuster elements. I just think that after 85 minutes of grade-A intensity, it would have been nice to have something more dramatic happen. Even if not an explosion, perhaps a revelation of some kind. The tiny shreds of hope we were presented (Carrie's recollection of Issa, the drone strike confirmation, Dana's suspicions) just weren't enough to assuage my concern that this was just some crass resetting. Plenty of successful franchises have nailed the season finale. I just think Homeland failed to do so.



I'm totally with you about how entertaining it was though. I'm just trying to describe a big picture disappointment I guess. Not every show can have dragon babies.
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As with few other reviews of yours you seem to be missing some stuff out again.



It wasn't just death of Issa that made Brody turn against US government. It was Vice President lying about it on television saying it was staged and used as propaganda by the terrorists. He denied any involvement of US military in the strike. And after few years of captivity you're not exactly sound mind. They made him "kill" Walker or so he thought. He was in isolation of prolonged periods of time etc.



As for CIA actively ignoring Carries intel, if they were willing to sweep the whole drone attack under the rug and VP picked Brody to run for congress then it makes sense they wouldn't want such wild theories floating about.



While certain bits of the finale could've been handed better it was unrealistic to expect Brody to actually blow himself up.



I don't mean to offend you or anything but considering how much stuff you miss in certain episodes I'm not surprised you're LESS interested in season 2. Seems you weren't paying attention in the 1st one either :)
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Couldn't agree more. The finale ended and I have slept on it as well. I STILL have no burning desire to see what happens next. I'm definitely not marking the season two premiere in the calendar. Of course, after another summer of rubbish and fall shows that have jumped the shark (I'm looking at YOU, Modern Family, The Office and Dexter), I will probably be ready to invest again...
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I'm a little wary of making the comparison, but reading this article made me naturally compare the season finales of Homeland and Sons of Anarchy. Both shows had two of my three favorite seasons in 2011 (the other being Breaking Bad's fourth season), and this article made a point about Homeland's season finale that I made about Sons of Anarchy's: "... the episode dodged an explosive ending after so much build up."

That was basically the same argument I made about Sons of Anarchy's season 4 finale. The whole season was episode after episode of building up drama and tension, and SOA's final episode of the season closed some doors while leaving some open for future seasons by (tamely) having Romeo, head of the Galindo cartel, reveal his association with the CIA. After the episode ended, I felt disappointed and a little frustrated that there was no action or character deaths, and the only saving grace of the episode was Jax taking the Presidency of SAMCRO.

I can understand how one can have the same opinion about Homeland's finale. The season did a fantastic job of building up a lot of tension and drama in every episode, and you can make the argument that this season finale was a little uneventful based on the fact that Brody, Carrie, Saul, Estes, and the vice-President all survived and were technically never in much danger (taking into account the viewer's knowledge that Walker had no intentions of shooting the vice-President or Brody).

However, I absolutely loved this episode and I didn't find it uneventful or disappointing at all. I understand the plight of multi-season TV shows, especially ones like Homeland and Sons of Anarchy that feature its characters in plenty of dangerous situations. Most viewers would assume that Brody, Carrie, and Saul wouldn't die, especially not after only one season. However, at least for me, this episode did a fantastic job of keeping that thought out of my head throughout the episode. The thought almost always creeps in during these kinds of shows, and it tends to "take me out" of the episode I'm watching. I did think that the vice-President might actually get killed, maybe by Walker, but I'm not disappointed that he wasn't. The whole show is based around Brody = terrorist, but Brody isn't against the U.S., he's against the VP of said country. If the VP were to have been killed by Walker, what exactly would Brody's plot be in future seasons? I can't think of one that makes much sense.

This then leads to the question Tim asks: "How many near misses can the show continue to dole out before it loses its credibility and believability with us?" The question is tough to answer, especially since it's kind of rhetorical -- I don't think there's a specific number to answer the question. It really depends on how well the writers, directors, and actors can keep doing their jobs, and if season 1 is any indication, Homeland's staff can probably go a long way.
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I half liked it and half didn't. Personally I wish that Brody would've gone through with it and then next season would've dealt with a completely different case, like for example, how shows like Buffy and Torchwood did. They had a definite start and end to each storyline and the next season was a new threat entirely. The whole sleeper agent type thing in the government is a tired idea, atleast to me.
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You wanted Homeland to be more like Buffy and Torchwood? I have nothing against those shows, but Homeland is in a different league. There's really no comparison. The sleeper agent inside the government has been done, but the way Homeland is executing it is anything but "tired".
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I wasn't saying I want it to be like those shows, I just used those as an example of how they went about things in that each season had a definite start point and a definite end point. I'd have liked it better if Brody had blown everybody up, because after all the build up, it was anticlimatic that he didn't, and then next season there would be a different threat to try to stop.
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"Liked it" or "Didn't like it"?



Captivated or Disappointed?



I'm sure the finale will leave many in a gray zone regarding these questions (which is only fitting given the purposely ambiguous nature of this show). Brody did not end with a bang. No fireworks. No contrived jaw-dropping cliffhangers. I can understand if some might feel a little cheated. But Homeland has never been about the grandiose. Its subtle, refined, and slow-burning intensity is what makes it so compelling. Did we really need an explosive ending to make this season great? I don't think so. I was content to watch some of the most brilliant character composition I have seen in a long time. All the players in this game are so real. So human. I can't help but sympathize with Brody. As a man, father, and even terrorist. His conversation with Dana on the phone was television at its very finest. A daughter worried about her father, pleading with him to promise he will come home. I'm not ashamed to say this scene nearly brought a tear to my eye. Morgan Saylor and Damian Lewis made me forget I was watching a fictional show. Claire Danes deserves every award an actress can get. Her portrayal of Carrie Mathison this season has been one of the best acting performances I have ever seen (up there in the rarefied air with Bryan Cranston). Carrie's gut-wrenching, emotionally devastating decision to receive electroshock therapy tore my heart out.



Homeland has been a thought provoking, profound, and fascinating commentary on the equivocal obscurity of the war one terror. This is "A War With No Winners", but for everybody watching this show, there absolutely no losers.
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I get your point, but to say Homeland's never been about the grandiose seems like an insane assertion. It's about the War on Terror! And assassination attempts! And public bombings! I can see the temptation to defend this conclusion on the ground of subtlety, but I suspect many people are reverse-engineering this praise based on their enjoyment of the preceding episodes. This lack of conclusion didn't feel so much like a cheat as just a simple failure of storytelling. It felt like a great second-to-last episode, not a season finale.
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But all these events are grounded in realism. The plot wasn't pompous or overblown. Every character decision emotionally rings true. The storytelling is gritty and believable. The writers built this special relationship between Brody and his daughter all season long. Carrie was right. She was the only one who could talk him down. In my opinion, the finale was not a failure in storytelling. It felt right. It felt true.
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I'm not faulting the character work, just the basic mechanics of storytelling. Regardless of how good and subtle the character relationships are, we're still left with a reset and almost no interesting hooks to keep us looking forward to S2. A presidential advisor is not as scary as a suicide bomber. A brain damaged woman is not as captivating as a top-of-her-game CIA agent. Any bold decisions this finale made were for the worse. But hey, at least Showtime can now stretch this thing out way past its expiration date. Can't wait to see how Season 6 shapes up.
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And I'd also like to add that Arch_Angel apologized (which is more than you deserved) and you didn't even bother to reply. Pussy and a douchebag. Congrats.
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Wow who knew Price was such a pussy. Seriously uncool to throw such a tantrum. Especially when you're wrong. Price is looking for 24 and Keifer Sutherland's big finishes. I loved that show too, but not every show needs explosions and flying body parts to be amazing. Are you seriously suggesting that Homeland should have writtened and aired only one season? What planet are you living on Price? Jesus.
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@Price(is right) - I apologize. That was a cheap shot. I shouldn't have brought a completely unrelated show into this conversation. I was a little angry. I loved the finale, and you obviously didn't. Agree to disagree.



Friends?
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@Arch_Angel88 Seriously uncool to bring up outside things to try and discredit my opinion. I'm expressing my disappointment with a lack of resolution coupled with what I sense is mass overpraise based on a strong season.
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Are you kidding me? Carrie and Brody's relationship alone is enough to bring me back. I've been defending you all season long on your Dexter reviews, but I'm not with you on this one. If Brody blows up, you get your instant gratification, but guess what? Without him, there really is no need for a second season. And if Brody wins his congressional race, who's to say the current VP won't put Brody on his presidential ticket. That is NOT low stakes. You should really read Tim's interview with Alex Gansa. It gives you a greater insight into the thought process behind the ending. I hate to say it, but I think your Dexter disappointment is clouding your judgement.
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I thought it was Great. the acting was probably the best on tv, but what i really liked was the way Homeland shows all the sides of the story like with Brody beeing a good dad and plotting an attack and the meeting between Walden and Estes in the back of the car talking about there cover up and the way it gets you thinking who is the real terrorists, is it Brody or Walden and Estes for knowingly doing an attack that they new would kill 82 kids. It is just all about your perception, i for one was sat watching hoping Brody would detonate the Bomb to deliver Justice on Walden and Estes for the attack that killed the 82 Kids.
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I enjoyed the finale, but I think I'd enjoy it even more if the attack actually happened. The last third was pretty lacking in intensity after such a nice beginning/middle of an episode.
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I have to say this was a very disappointing ending to this season. I wish Homeland would have been cancelled, as the ending might then have been different with Brody actually blowing himself up.



But, who honestly believed that that would happen? Of all the shows only The Event comes to mind, where REALLY bad things happened (the attack on the Washington Monument).



It is so disappointing to see all those shows with twisting plots and character build ups, when you DEFINITELY know, that nothin will really happen.



I wish for a show where a terror attack/alien invasion/government conspiracy is NOT stopped at the last moment.



Jericho was kind like that, only it started AFTER the terror attack so we had no chance to think that everything was going to be ok and those nukes would not go off.



Networks, show some balls!
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yeah, about the event. Which season is it in now? Yeah, thought so. I think if he'd blown himself up, there wouldn't have been a reason for season 2 and the show would've been cancelled. It's way easier and cheaper for networks and writers to build onto an idea than to conclude it, and then come up with another show and then another. I do get what you are saying and to each his own i guess : )
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The only way to get what you want is when they announce a mini-series. That is the one and only guarantee that plot will unravel this way.



When it comes to normal TV shows with a chance of being renewed, such drastic measures are saved for series finale or in some cases later season finales.
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A very good ending to a very good season. Danes, Lewis and Patinkin have undoubtedly been spectacular all season long, but I will definitely agree with the comments on Morgan Saylor, she's playing Dana as a very believable, and more importantly, likeable teenage girl.
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I thought this was a great finale to the season series. I understand that to keep a second season on tap, they couldn't follow through with the explosive finale we thought we might see. Carrie did somewhat accomplish her mission by getting to Brody through his daughter. This show deserves its accolades as all the characters stepped it up in all roles. It was a bit unnerving in the end to see Carrie strapped to the table, electricity pulsing through her brain, her mind always fighting.
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I completely agree, Morgan Saylor was fabulous. I cried when she called up her father when he was almost about to blow himself up into smithereens. That phone call was unreal. The acting on both sides was phenomenal. I almost didn't know who I was crying for, Brody or Dana.

This episode gave me shivers. Damian, Mandy and Claire are my favorite three people on television right now and I can't wait to have them back on with another outstanding season.
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The show was amazing. Except for the ending. I can't help but to feel cheated. The show should have ended there, Brody should have done what he was meant to do. You know not everything must have a "surprise" ending. Now when the show comes back next year we will have a watered down version of this and it will never be as good. That sucks.
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There is absolutely no proof that it will be watered down next season.



For example, The Wire had it's peak (at least for me) in it's 3rd and 4th season.



Hell, even Dexter that seems to be hit or miss with it's season, had one of it's best season long into it's run with 4th season Trinity killer case.



I agree that it's justified to feel cheated but the whole season was without a doubt one of the best things in many years. Not many shows can deliver episode after episode.



But I will always keep the thought around that had this been a mini-series and Brody blew himself up, it would easily make my top #2 (after The Wire) favourite show.
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I agree with you on Claire Danes, and Damian Lewis. The scene when Brody's daughter called him when he was in the room was just incredible. And every scene with Claire Danes has been so powerful it's almost more than I can watch.



I have to disagree on Mandy Patinkin though. In my opinion he's pretty much playing the same role he did in "Dead Like Me" and "Criminal Minds". Same speech patterns, same expressions.
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Obviously you must ask Gansa when the show returns... I hate that the best shows have the longest breaks.



I was thinking the same thing about Brody's turning. As sympathetic as his situation was, there's way too much to lose for him to be remain a double agent, especially now that he's back on home soil, As for Walker, maybe his family was threatened, but that's too easy and doesn't seem like Abu Nazir's MO.
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