It’s the third-season finale, and everyone on Homeland has terrible timing. One major character sees his Tehran operation begin to take root on his last day as Director. Another realizes what she wants – and doesn’t want – when it’s too late to change the course of either. Another meets his fate at last, a world away from home and honor.
Let’s take a look at what’s over, what continues, and what’s ahead for the Homeland team. Big spoilers ahead; please refrain from reading if you haven’t already watched The Star.
Over: Saul Berenson’s career with the CIA. The Acting Director of the CIA sees his Tehran operation begin to work on his last day in office – but even then, hands other than his are on the wheel. Not long after Carrie has conveyed Brody to the safe house, Senator Lockhart assumes control of the operation: giving Javadi access to Brody’s hiding place, and effectively handing him over to justice by the government whose security director he just killed.
You’re out, Saul. I’m the Director now. – Lockhart
Just like that, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency becomes Chief of Daily Morning-Pastry Decisions. Which … don’t knock that job, Saul! Especially if you get to do it on a beach in Greece!
Over: Nicholas Brody. (RIP.) As a former Marine, prisoner of war,
Senator Congressman, quadruple agent, husband, and father of two (three, soon enough), Nick Brody got a lot done in his time with us. Still, a lot of Homeland viewers have argued that his continued presence on the show was an implausible distraction from what should be the story. I have never really agreed with that perspective. Then again, I live in a nation so uncomfortable with what it calls “evil” that we celebrate and mythologize the murder of a wanted terrorist on foreign soil. I know that a real-life Brody could expect no different.
Continuing: the CIA, of course. Under Director Lockhart, the pregnant and bipolar Carrie Mathison receives a promotion – to Station Chief, in Istanbul. It’s immediately obvious that Carrie and Lockhart do not get along, but she accepts the promotion: it promises a robust escape from where she is and what she’s facing.
Continuing: Carrie’s pregnancy, unfortunately. Carrie believed that if she could only get Brody out of Iran, he had a future at home with her and their child. She clings to her vision of their shared future for as long as she can. “There will be a life,” she insists, in their last moments at the safe house.
Absent that vision, Carrie is the most reluctant mom-to-be since Peggy Olson. Unlike Peggy, she’s grimly aware of her condition; like Peggy, she is not at all interested in going through with it.
I don’t feel love. What I feel is scared. Scared is how I feel. And sad. I’m so freaking sad. – Carrie
Oddly enough, her admission of sadness is one of the most resonant moments of the season. I’d even call it something of a breakthrough for her.
Carrie Mathison typically functions on Don Draper levels of dissociation. This is a woman who uses yoga only as cover for clandestine meetings. She’s shown up to an interrogation immediately after being held captive by the world’s most wanted terrorist, the blood of her ordeal still fresh on her face. We’ve seen her drink to excess, have meaningless sex, take a bunch of pills, and throw away all her meds – all to avoid having to feel what she feels. So the sight of Carrie sitting on a couch, saying she feels sad? That’s a huge, if simple, step forward.
Continuing: Javadi in charge in Iran, performing at ninja levels of badassery. When the death of his boss places him in charge of security in Iran, Javadi wastes no time cementing his authority: capturing his boss’s assassin, trying him in front of a military tribunal, and executing him. Javadi knows that this is necessary. He can change nothing without his country’s trust, and this is the one way he can immediately earn it.
The plan is a success. You and Brody pulled it off. It was astonishing and undeniable, what he did. Everyone sees him through your eyes now. – Javadi
It’s a tough sell, but Javadi knows how to make it – even to a shocked Carrie. “I think you of all people would understand that no one is just one thing,” he reminds her. Good point, you calm, scary, accomplished badass. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of you next year.
New: Saul’s sweet life with Mira in Greece. At least I think it’s Greece – never been. Should I go? I’m really thinking I should go.
New: Iran coming to the table to negotiate with the West. In fiction as in life, the sight of “Iran finally opening its fist” is world news, and clear evidence of thirty years’ careful work by people the rest of us will never know. In the world of Homeland, we can track this new openness to the work of a few people – most notably Saul Berenson. “It’s your crowning achievement,” Mira says to her oddly buoyant husband. Oh, he knows.
New: Carrie’s fresh defiance in the face of new management. We’ve seen Carrie disobey orders before, so a lot of what we see in her now – the unlit cigarette between the lips, the dawdling on her way to the next “situation” – is familiar. But with Lockhart at the helm, there’s a subversive new edge to her antics. You don’t deface the honor wall at a place you respect. You don’t bitch about your boss to your colleagues if you’re afraid it’s going to get back to him.
Carrie liked – at one point, even loved – David Estes. She adores Saul Berenson. But for Lockhart, she feels deep mistrust, even contempt. His refusal to honor Brody with a star is just the beginning of Carrie’s differences with her boss, and I’m sure they’ll deepen in the fourth season.
When it’s over it’s over. Pull down the shades and go home. – Saul
The man says it’s time to go; so it is. On to the final Closing Thoughts for the season:
Carrie didn’t let Brody go without a fight – and still hasn’t. From start to finish, this rang true, and it was very moving. Carrie hung right in there: her increasingly desperate attempts to change his fate (“what about Amnesty International?”), her reaction to his execution (climbing the fence as he died!); and months later, she’s still arguing for a star on the wall in his name. Carrie Mathison is all about Nicholas Brody. I think she always will be.
Quinn and Carrie are good buddies. He’s a good friend to her: good enough to shoot her without killing her, good enough to give her a cigarette when she’s eight months pregnant and demands one. But that’s all he is: a friend. Poor Quinn. Hell, poor Carrie!
Saul and Dar Adal are even better buddies. I loved their discussion in the diner. It felt like a full-circle moment – didn’t we first get to know Dar Adal in that diner with Saul, when he was out and Saul was in? – and the fact that they ordered the same thing was just adorable. “Two old schools, coming up,” says the waitress. They are old-schools, these two, and I love them for it.
Carrie will keep that baby. You heard it here first, Basketcases: our hero will distract and procrastinate her way right into reluctant motherhood. Once there, she’ll end up asking for and hiring enough child-care help to occasionally forget the kid exists. We’ve seen this happen before, particularly if we’re over 40 and remember our childhoods clearly. Mother and child will be fine … eventually.
We’ll see Dana Brody Lazaro again. Like it or not, I promise you: we will.
I’m proud to announce my new title! I’ve been casting around for a new role ever since I resigned the Presidency of the Carrie and Brody Shippers’ Club last year, and at last I’ve found one. I’m the new President of the Javadi Fan Club, which will meet in this space in fall 2014. I even have the first topic: Javadi as Dread Pirate Roberts? Discuss.