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Homeland Review: Bomb In A Bunker

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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.

A Scary Home Video

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.

Homeland Season Finale Picture

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?

Review

Editor Rating: 5.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (292 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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Great finale. I just feel that the series finale should have had something for Morena Baccarin's character. She was in the fore for much of the season, and suddenly, all her misgivings all her hesistance and issues with Brody are gone? Just with one stroke. I mean the Dana character is awesome, but Brody's wife should have some better insight into her husband's erratic behaviour, no?

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Did I miss something, or did they ever reveal who the mole was inside the CIA?

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@Piecar Brody killed Walker, not to stay active, but to save his own life. If Nazir knew the truth (that he changed his mind about blowing himself up), one of two things would happen. Nazir will either have him killed or he would release the video of Brody confessing to being a terrorist. The latter would probably be even worse than death. Brody did what he had to do. He killed Walker to save his own ass like he had done in Iraq. The first time he thought he killed Walker, he was haunted by the memory because Walker was his best friend, but this time around, he wasn't killing his best friend. He was killing a terrorist. Walker was not the same anymore and Brody knew it. He showed no remorse because he had no feelings for the man he was killing. By this point, Walker was a total stranger to him.

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They continue to keep us guessing about Brody's intentions. If as he says to Abu Nazir, he's more valuable alive and not using violence, how much of a traitor is he to the US? Will he be like a Kim Philby, a spy rising high in the power structure? Or will he just be someone trying to influence the US to fight its wars differently? That's already long been a debate among Americans. Obviously Brody already broke laws and intended to cause great harm, but if the future is now all about influencing people, thought isn't a crime, is it? Nice moral ambiguity there. Still, by the attempted bombing, he's thrown his hand in with the enemy, and it becomes difficult for him to come clean or become a double agent for the US in any way. He could continue to be loyal to Abu Nazir, or just be loyal to himself, stringing Abu Nazir along while continuing to live his life. Brody killing Walker also has its ambiguities, the act serving many functions: demonstrating commitment to Abu Nazir, being an act of patriotism against a terrorist, or simply protecting himself from a potential loose end. Carrie did prevent the bomb attack (with some help from Dana) but appears as a failure to her peers -- quite the lesson in life not being fair.

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Sooo, correct me if I'm wrong, but Walker's body was just left there after Brody shot him and Walker was (allegedly) the one who stole the memory card left in the stone park bench. I thought the finale and show were brilliant, but I wonder what will happen to that video Brody made explaining his actions. I think that would be pretty career ending for a politician.

Realdiehl

If Brody killed the VP and those responsible for the deaths of 82 children I would have had no problem with that; so long as he did it in such a way as to allow himself to survive and not be implicated in the bombing. Otherwise, his actions would have been totally hypocritical and irrational. One does not avenge the death and suffering of innocents by killing and/or causing the suffering of more innocents (unless his idiotic misinterpretation of scripture tells him to). If Brody was able to carry out his mission that's exactly what he would have done. Brody's own children and family would have become victim's of his vengeance. I think Brody realized this only after his vest malfunctioned and he was able to speak to his daughter (as Bill mentioned below, she helped him snap out of it). Besides being a gripping, emotional, and intense one and a half hours of television, I hope that message at least got through to some people. I think Claire Danes should win every acting award there is for Homeland. I'm no critic, all I have to go on is how an actor makes me feel. I am still haunted by the scene 2 weeks ago when Estes' Secret Servicemen were pulling Carrie's timeline off the wall. The aftershocks still resonate from what I can only describe as a visceral earthquake. That was some powerful stuff!

Piecar

Brody stopped by his daughter, who, in her heart, knows. Carrie, in her psychosis, still the hero...and no one will EVER know. That was all terrific.I thought it was a great Season Finale...right up until the meet between Brody and Walker. I just don't buy it. I don't buy that Brody, a thinking conspirator, shoots an effective co-conspirator just to stay active. I don't buy that he would believe he was doing the right thing, which he thought he was doing when he wanted to kill the VP. I really thought this series was well thought out...But that makes no sense, and is contrived....and it lost me. It was a huge misstep, considering Brody was haunted by his FIRST killing of Walker. This is akin to the moment in Heroes in the first season when I realized that the Battle Royale of two super powered characters was going to be a fist fight. What a huge huge waste.

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Outstanding episode/finale! The storyline is brilliant, the plotline fiendishly clever, and the acting -- especially Claire Danes and Damian Lewis -- is unbelievable. In fact, damn, they're all good. Mandy Pantikin, the girl who played daughter Dana -- just amazing. I can't wait for Season 2!

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In my opinion.. the acting is fantastic.. and the story is believeable. and I thought tht Kiefer sutherland was great in 24.. this puts it to shame.. when will homeland return ... I cannot wait..

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I probably shouldn't be surprised that some people wanted a formulaic solution/ending to the season. I'm delighted that isn't what the writers and Micheal Cuesta gave us. This series is probably some of the best written/acted television I've ever seen. There isn't a wasted word, motion or scene - all of them are important. The pacing was wonderful - it kept the suspense building and I never lost interest. As was mentioned - the acting - well, I believed the characters. It wasn't Claire and Damien playing parts - it was Carrie and Brody being themselves. For the people who were disappointed - well - I am sure there are some shows you'll like. Maybe Dexter (which was also originally directed by Michael Cuesta) - which has certainly become formulaic over the past 3-4 seasons (and really should be put to bed.. it's becoming a soap opera without any humor.) I DVR two shows on Sunday night - Dexter and Homeland. Got home late last night and only had time to watch one.. you can guess which one got watched. I'll get around to Dexter's finale sooner or later, but there isn't any rush to.