Posted Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, at 1:12 PM
**SPOILER ALERT: Don't read if you haven't watched the finale and don't want to hear about what happened!**
The season finale undoubtedly saved an otherwise bumpy Season 2, where things were either way too slow or way too fast and inconceivable—like Nazir hiding in the abandoned plant living off Chewy bars and Cheez-Its (not really, but it could be true) with SWAT teams circling the area for two straight days. Perhaps, after a stellar Season 1, we expected this season to be even better. And frankly, who can blame us? Showtime isn't some run-of-the-mill cable channel, after all.
Photo by Kent Smith/Showtime.
But, the best episodes—the ones we couldn't let go of in either season—were the ones that were the most ambiguous. Like when Saul was failing his polygraph test in Season 1 only to run out of the room minutes later (this ties into my "villain" theory, which I'll get into). And now, like at its best moments from Season 1, the finale was full of surprises and unanswered questions. Why did Saul choose to go to Nazir's burial at sea over Walden's memorial? Did he do this to get his wife back and become head of the CIA? Who moved Brody's car? Is Peter Quinn involved? Is Brody the bad guy? What did Brody and Nazir talk about during their one-on-one consultation? These questions that we are now asking ourselves and wrestling over are exactly what make showrunners Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon so goddamn good.
Unlike 24, where there was a mole hiding under nearly every desk among the "good guys," this show is playing with our minds as to what will happen next the way Brody and Carrie have played with each other's the majority of the past two seasons. From the preview for Episode 11, it seemed as though this episode would be about the hunter (Peter Quinn) and his prey (Brody). But after devouring a can of tuna, Quinn realized he "kills bad guys," not Brody. Like a good Dan Brown novel, Homeland loves cliffhangers. And best of all, these cliffhangers don't necessarily get answered, ever. Questions from Season 1 still loom, but Homeland's ability to completely crush our theories and predictions as to what will happen next is the show's greatest strength. The more content or confident you feel, the greater the chance something completely different will happen -- like someone moving Brody's car in the last 10 minutes of the finale only to interrupt some sexy time in an unknown office!
When things are unexpected, they suddenly become believable, at least some portion of the time. Moments that I really liked from the finale:
- Estes finally giving in to Saul and admitting he was wrong.
- Quinn threatening Estes, suddenly becoming a good guy instead of the pretentious boarding school snob we knew and loved.
- The last scene with Saul looming over the bodies was both eerie and eloquent. The cringing look of happiness on his face when he saw Carrie was priceless.
- Carrie saying goodbye to Brody in the creepiest forest since The Blair Witch Project was also masterful. It had to end, unfortunately.
Whether we see Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) or not, she clearly has a bright future ahead of her. That Brody guy? I'm sure he'll be back. Only without the Rolling Rock grown-up time moments with Mike Faber. On the flip side, Saul can now down all the milk cartons he wants and even add a raisin or two to that peanut butter and celery manifestation. More importantly, I cannot wait for Peter Quinn and Dar Adul to get bigger roles in Season 3. My suspicions are that Saul is a bad guy. Heck, Brody could still be a bad guy, again. The writers have left enough clues where either option is legitimate. Homeland has thrived on ambiguity and the element of surprise, who's to say it should stop?
More questions on Homeland (TV Series):