With an extended Homeland season finale comes an extended Homeland season finale review here at TV Fanatic. I will attempt to keep my thoughts contained, but since "Marine One" was such a tremendous end to this almost perfect first season, I make no promises.
No show in recent memory has combined such interesting character studies with such amazing storytelling as well as Homeland has done over its first 12 episodes.
Damian Lewis gave another gut-wrenching performance in the Homeland season finale.
This season finale had me on the edge of my seat for the entire 90 minutes. A number of series can pull that off on finale night, but Homeland managed to do it every single hour over the course of an entire season. Bravo.
It started with Dana walking in on her dad praying in the garage, a moment I was so glad that Brody was somewhat upfront about. For obvious reasons he couldn't be honest with his daughter when she almost walked in on him again, this time with a bomb strapped to his chest.
The tension continued with the near perfect plan by Walker, Nazir, Brody, and company as Walker snuck in on the floor of an old woman's car, Brody came via Secret Service, and the two managed to get all of the important individuals into a confined space.
The next moments were what had me up in arms over how good this Homeland finale was. Both before and after Brody went into the bathroom to fix his vest, the scenes in which he was ready to ignite the bomb to kill himself and everyone else, were truly breathtaking.
It was stunning directing by Michael Cuesta, who unsurprisingly also directed the Pilot and "The Weekend." Cuesta and Damian Lewis's performance had me afraid for my life, let alone Brody's as the good sergeant struggled with his decision to flip the switch.
As the camera soon made its way to Carrie at the Brody household, it was obvious once again that not only are these writers brilliant, but so are the characters they have created. Of course Carrie is going to go to Brody's weak spot! It's something we all learned in "Achilles Heel." Everyone has one. Carrie figured out that Brody's is Dana, and she tried to use that to her advantage.
Sadly, Carrie never found out that her plan worked, which in turn most likely helped lead to her decision to go through with the electrode treatment.
After Dana finished blowing up at the woman that banged her dad, she allowed herself to calm down and actually comprehend that this woman was right. Whether or not Dana actually believed her father was going to kill everyone at that site, after all she witnessed over the past couple of weeks, she at least knew that something was seriously wrong.
Listening to that phone conversation between a father and daughter filled me with every emotion possible. Brody's quick "Yeah I'm coming home," as his eyes turned beat red and he shook like crazy, almost had me near tears. When Dana finally convinced him, he composed himself, and responded with a strong "I'm coming home Dana, I promise," the love in the air also had me near tears. Maybe I'm just too emotional.
You can see Brody trembling even in this still picture.
While all of that was going on, our man Saul attempted to believe in Carrie time after time, but only ended up betraying her again and again. After finding out that she was absolutely right about Abu Nazir, he decided to save her from the electrode treatment on her brain, but his attempt was too late. She made her decision.
As good as the twists and turns were, and as interesting as the surprises and new developments were, the story telling still might have taken a back seat to just how fantastic Claire Danes and Lewis were at portraying these unbelievably complex characters.
That was never more evident than in "Marine One." Brody's struggle to make the biggest decision of his life, choosing the love of his family over what he thought he needed to do for the good of the country, and then continuing to go along with Nazir's plan after killing Walker, proved just how great of a character Sergeant Brody really is.
Whether this guy is willing to make moves up the political ladder for Nazir with a purpose of helping the man, or simply because he thinks he needs to in order to stay alive at this point, it will be interesting to watch. Lewis and this writing staff have proved that.
Carrie Mathison's amplified bouts of mania and subsequent depression only made her an even more interesting character over the past couple of episodes. She is brilliant, that is for sure, but can she be controlled? And should she be?
After electing for this intense treatment on her brain, will she be different come season two? Will she be more normal? Will that allow her to be back in the CIA?
There are a lot of questions to be asked before Homeland gets to its second season, but let's stay on this finale, and the end of season one for a moment.
I only had one major issue with this finale, and it was that Dana intervening was so blatantly obvious. They foreshadowed it to death, so when Brody went into the garage to pray, I wrote in my notes "daughter is going to walk in on this final prayer!" Sometimes I forget her name, so sue me.
When he started putting the vest on in his bedroom I wrote "what are the chances she walks in again?" Yeah she didn't, but it was the same idea. For as good as the series was at keeping the audience on their toes, this was one area where they kind of beat us over the head with the idea.
That one issue was definitely not enough to derail me from stating that Homeland really put an exclamation point on this terrific first season, as "Marine One" might have been my favorite installment of the season.
I can't wait to see where they go with the story in season two. What about all you TV Fanatics? What did you think of the season one finale? And how unbelievably good was this first season of Homeland?
Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.