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Homeland

Homeland Review: Throwing Your Life Away

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Homeland Season 2 had so much to make up for in its finale that "The Choice" had nearly no chance of redeeming the story telling mistakes, character misguidance and overall unbelievability of the past half season or so.

In addition to the fantastic performances by Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Mandy Patinkin, and others, as well as the thrills and surprises that the writing brought to us, Homeland Season 1 had an aura of realism that also made it easy for the audience to be drawn in.

Those first two facets were still in play this year, for the most part, but that third factor was really nowhere to be found. It seemed every episode had its own share of moments where you had to chuckle to yourself, and think "Really? Okay, I guess I'll play along."

Homeland Season 2 Finale Scene

"The Choice" featured its own share of such scenes. Listening to Saul talk about the added responsibility Carrie may be in for was ridiculous. Seriously, the CIA is not only going to allow this crazy person back into the company, but put her in charge of a station??!? 

Moreover, Carrie and Brody walking out of the memorial service for the Vice President just in the nick of time was ridiculously convenient for everybody, no? If we're going to accept that neither has enough respect to stay through the entirety of it, couldn't we have at least had some shots of the other people in attendance shooting them the dirtiest looks of all-time for getting up and bolting?

The finale did redeem Abu Nazir in a way, though. At least now we can rest easily knowing that he wasn't the dumbest villain of in TV history. His ultimate plan, if we choose to believe Brody's explanation, was respectable. Getting his team caught, and eventually getting himself captured, in order to kill the Vice President and then murder hundreds of CIA agents at his funeral wasn't the worst idea ever. It showed a long-term plan that I can get behind as a viewer.

Did Nazir need to die to keep America's guard down? Probably not, so it didn't quite make up for his decision to stay in that building and not kill Carrie, but it was a good start to redemption.

Maybe it was just that Carrie and Brody worked so poorly together as a couple, but the performances of Danes and Lewis didn't seem nearly as impressive this season in comparison to what we witnessed a year ago. Patinkin, on the other hand, gave us everything we enjoyed about Saul and more.

Whether it was the simplicity of drinking out of a carton of milk, or the utterly painful words he spewed at Carrie when she told him she was thinking of choosing Brody over her job, Saul Berenson was once again the highlight of this episode.

You're throwing your life away... You're the smartest and the dumbest f*cking person I've ever known.

While all of his comments in that conversation were warranted - Brody was a terrorist after all - the pain they caused Carrie still cut so deep that they were shocking, so very enjoyably shocking.

If those were his last moments with his friend it would have been a shame, but still, the emotions they were trying to induce with that final moment didn't quite work. I get as sentimental as anyone can while watching television. Heck, I get teary-eyed during almost every episode of Parenthood, but I didn't feel a thing when Saul turned around and saw Carrie standing there.

Carrie became way too unlikable as a character this season to get emotional about any big moment for her. Whether that was saying goodbye to Brody in the woods, or showing up for Saul, she became too annoying to really want to see good things happen to her. That's not a good sign for the future of Homeland.

Also not good for this show's future is the feeling that it will never lose its main cast. Finding new stories to tell about each and every one of these characters is difficult. Taking the tale where it goes, organically, would be a much easier task. That, however, would likely include getting rid of Morena Baccarin as a cast member, and that's very unlikely to happen.

Instead, we will probably be stuck watching a few more uninteresting stories from Jessica, Dana and Mike next year, an issue that hurt this fall's flow as well.

In the end, the big issues of Brody getting killed by Quinn and Saul being detained by Estes were conveniently thrown away. The cold-blooded cleaner suddenly grew a conscience, which saved Brody's life and forced Estes to let up on Saul.

Now one will be on the run, and the other will likely be leading the man hunt as the ranking officer in the CIA. That's where this seemingly heads next season, right? I'm sure there are plenty more terrorist attacks in the works, but that has to be a part of the story, no?

What do you all think is in store for viewers next season? Did you have as many issues with the back half Homeland's second season as I did? If so, what were your problems? If not, what did you love about season 2? And what were your favorite moments from "The Choice?"

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (144 Votes)

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

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    31 Comments New Comment Subscribe

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    I am a late comer to Homeland! Did anyone notice in the preview of the next season when Carrie is lying on the couch Saul is about to touch her stomach... maybe she is pregnant with Brodie's child?

    I think there is stilla high possibility Brodie was in in it with Abu Nazeer as Nicholas said - we don't know what they discussed, and we do know Brodie is a brilliant liar. He seemed to know from early in the episode he would be leaving soon. Quinn is so awesome and so handsome, it looks like he has a pretty set role next series which is great! I am glad Saul's wife is coming back to. She seems to be a character with depth!

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    MvaSAR Hey, thanks for the blog. Want more.

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    I just watched all of Homeland in the last couple of days. I wish Abu Nazir had had a plot to capture Dana and take her back as a young bride. Anything to get her off the show (although the I did enjoy the spilled milk scene.) I don't think it is completely the actress's fault, she should be better directed.

    What I couldn't understand is why Brody's wife wasn't at the funeral? Was this made clear in the episode - I would imagine protocol, unless there was another emergency of some kind, would dictate, especially as Dana and Finn knew each other, that the whole family would have gone and paid their respects to support the Vice President's wife. Jessica not being there felt more like a plot point to keep her from being bombed, unless we see a scene where Brody specifically tells her not to go. (The script suggests that she's not going because she's upset that they are separating/divorcing, but the nation doesn't know that...

    It's holes like this - and I don't even know what to make of Nazir being in the tunnels and chasing after Carrie like some subterranean "Slience of The Lambs" - I'm trying to imagine Bin Laden letting someone go, and then hitting them over the head with a shovel - that was weird. After all the work that Carrie did in the first season to get him, and it turns out that he's basically hiding in the basement of the International House of Pancakes.

    Lastly, I know it's not fair to expect miracles, but I loved the first season because Carrie wasn't a woman in love, she was a tough professional and in interesting character. But it seems that lazy writing took us in the direction of her needing Brody to save her, and "Standing By Her Man"....really? I hope they do something different in Season 3.

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    I loved the season finale!
    I do agree that Carrie and Brody were not as great as usual, except for their final scene, but I cannot imagine the show without either of them.
    And how is it possible to watch a show if you don´t like the main characters?
    I agree that they should have kept David Estes, he was interesting. I was also thinking that Saul must have published the video, who else as David Estes is dead?
    I hope Brody´s family is not around for the season 3, they were getting more and more annoying! Cant wait for the next season!

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    I've whizzed through the last episode, so I haven't really absorbed it all yet. Are we to assume that Brodys car bomb plot was set up by the long game Nazzir planned?
    Some of the plot lines have got a bit creeky at the seams. There must be insiders in the CIA to have smuggled that bomb in.Doesn't say much for the CIA security checks.
    I'm beginning to dislike the 'Carrie in love' gig, she's loosing her edge. I just hope the third season will be the last, so Homeland ends with some dignity rather than letting the storyline get beyond stupid!

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    I can't understand why Carrie and Brody would just get up in the middle of a memorial for the Vice President of the United States, boldly and conspicuously walk out of the very large room in front of hundreds of people, and then run upstairs to an empty office to make out and declare their love for each other when they could've waited to do so at the end of the memorial. There was plenty of time for lurve. That misstep was incredulous and was obviously employed b/c there was no other way to get them out of what soon became harm's way. What I found most annoying in the entire series was flat affect Dana. Did she get a degree in eyebrow twitching and hand-wringing acting? She has one foot in the grave one day and then is Ms. Nuclear Reactor the next. And way the hell too self-righteous for a teenager. I'll continue to watch it but, like Newsroom on HBO, it'll be with a canary yellow jaundiced eye.

    Eludium-q36

    (continued) There's just alot of these character annoyances that make watching more of a labor than a good time. Seems to be a pattern most shows that get multi-season nods follow. Like the columnist alludes to, it'd be more interesting to have one or more major characters killed off and replaced by other interesting characters. In other words, either Carrie or Brody should not have gotten up after that blast, especially with that type of impact. Finally, Saul's smile at Carrie at the end should've been shortened with a more sober "glad to see you're ok but where the hell have you been ?!" Whatever, we'll see if season 3 is fresh food or stale leftovers.

    Eludium-q36

    This show is just like Saul's line to Carrie: it's at the same time great and foolish. I'll return for season 3 but I've got a jaundiced eye on it. There are several tropes that irk me with this show, the main one being how revealing discussions are interrupted by cell phone calls! Jeez, does no one just send calls to voice mail ?! Does no one know how to mute the ringer after the first ring ?! The second trope is how they simply cut from a "how do they escape this?" to "hey, we're free and clear now!" Seriously, how do Brody and Carrie simply leave a burning building, unseen by thousands of other CIA staff in adjacent buildings, and leave why dozens of police/security vehicles would be converging on the scene ?! Of course, none of that was shown, instead, they were just conveniently out of there. Plus, I'm sick of the unending angst of bitchy Dana. Why not just let her snap and go off the deep end?! There's just alot of these character annoyances that make watching more of a labor than a good time. Seems to be a pattern most shows that get multi-season nods follow. Like the columnist alludes to, it'd be more interesting to have one or more major characters killed off and replaced by other interesting characters. In other words, either Carrie or Brody should not have gotten up after that blast, especially with that type of impact. Finally, Saul's smile at Carrie at the end should've been shortened with a more sober "glad to see you're ok but where the hell have you been ?!" Whatever, we'll see if season 3 is fresh food or stale leftovers.

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    Brody did it. When he got out of his car and walked towards the auditorium, he had his car keys in his hands. He then shook some completely random guy's hand and after that, did not have his keys anymore.

    Furthermore...

    -He bought Mike a beer and then... told him he would not be able to take care of his family. Yet, when Carrie told him she wanted to be with him, he had a moment of sadness, during which he looked in the direction of his car. (as if he had some slight feeling of guilt about the number of people that he was about to kill, and this woman telling him she loved him)

    -Brody did not look panicked at all after the attack.

    -The only source we have to figure out what really went by between Brody and Nazir in their helicopter meeting is Brody himself... and he clearly did not tell everything that went on.

    -The look Brody had when he walked out of Carrie's forest place and went to pray was that of a "man on a mission". Gone was his tender look from a few minutes before.

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    The reviewer, Dan Forcella, should really give this show a miss next year - it's clearly well above his intellectual level. Stick with Parenthood and 90210 et al as they undoubtedly more your speed. Leave the complicated stuff to those who can think on more than one level.
    I'll be there for season 3 - can't wait!




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