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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
  • 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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@Phil
I completely agree with your statement.

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So many react based on what they want from this show rather than take the show for what it gives them. There are two premises to this show: 1. Brody - who is he really? What can we expect or believe about him? That means he sticks around. If you kill him, as some wanted, you lose the premise of the show, and Showtime might as well start a new series. 2. This show is about Brody and Carrie. It will always deal with the push and pull between them. It is a necessity for this program. Of course there are so many things that don't add up, but find me one program on TV that does not stretch credibility. I'll be there when the show returns next season for the same reasons I watched Season 1 and return to Seaso 2.

Aries93

I was expecting Quinn to put a bullet into Brody, so when he didn't I was completely in shock. Though I want Brody to live, his death would have been one great dynamic for the show and Carrie. After this, I'm going to assume that Brody will always escape death if you look back on past 24 episodes. The guy is untouchable.

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Am the only one that was disappointed that Quinn didn't kill Brody (and hopefully Carrie in the process)? Sorry but I absolutely despise both their characters. How can I root for a character that is so unlikable (Carrie)? She is so annoying, so completely nuts. I agree that I don't want to see good things happen to her. And I didn't buy Quinn's sudden touchy feely bullshit. He was supposed to be a badass, and instead they just turned her into another one of Carrie's cheerleaders. His line about her being "the best intelligence agent he'd ever met" was ridiculous! She is a terrible intelligence agent, or at least she would be in real life where "instincts" are not what you base life and death decisions on.

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There was a hot sex scene in almost episode, so who is going to do who if Brody and Carrie are in different countries? Is that why Saul's wife is returning? Will Carrie get it on with Quinn? If so, where are her "gut instincts" that make her such a OCD agent? If she gets stupid with Quinn, she will undermine her character by becoming naive. If she becomes suspicious, she will end up in the same "I want to f you but I don't trust you, so I'll takes notes" mode. And BTW, why is everybody that is charismatic white? Why make the black characters minor, boring or dead? Since Quinn is an ambiguous character, and is likely to become another complex and important puzzle, why not let that character be played by a gorgeous, subtle actor like Viola Davis? The gal vs gal dynamic would be great.

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I think the finale was haunting..the music that played right from the start set the tone for the impending disaster that was about to happen.. i would never in a million years guess it was to explode a bomb in Langley then set up Brody to take the fall for it.. admittedly throughout the first 20 minutes i kept waiting for Brody to die..(I'm strangely relieved though..It's a pleasure watching Lewis perform.. Even though the plot would have gotten a fresh lease of life with Brody's death, I'm glad they decided to keep him around). The reviews have been way too harsh. Homeland is still the strongest show on tv so far. And I'm really glad SAUL is now the ranking officer and acting director of the CIA..absolutely terrific(someone hand PATINKIN all the awards right. freaking. now)

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First, before I forget. That Saul/Carrie moment for me at the end seemed very forced. Saul is NOT stupid. He knows what Brody is, and he knew both of them were there and not accounted for. Did "Saul" release the video of Brody to the news stations? I enjoyed every episode this season. I didn't feel any episodes were slow or disconnected. Every line, every scene was about building our continued doubt on who Brody truly is. The facial expressions from Brody when David was speaking of Walden at the memorial service said it all. A moment later, he gets himself and Carrie out of there, just minutes before the explosion. Will Saul have to take Carrie down? Will Quinn be the balance between a mercenary and patriot? Great season. Thank you for your excellent reviews!

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he "big surprise" felt too much like the end of the amazing movie "Arlington Road" - which still has the power to creep me out, even though I know how it ends. Totally agree that the CIA would never have allowed Carrie to run a station - never mind her age; she has bipolar disorder and, while brilliant, has proven herself to be unstable (something we saw more of in this episode). Also, incredibly unfortunate timing for this episode to air, given the events of Friday (though, really, is it any worse to watch mass carnage this weekend than any other? And, at least the deaths here were neither children nor by gunfire).

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I loved the review, and I personally share very similar thoughts on both the season and this episode in general. Coming into Season 2, I would never have excepted Homeland to match the heights of Season 1. But to my surprise Homeland started off really well. It was in fact, towards the end of the season, that Homeland started struggling. Episodes dragged on, wishing that I was more like my room-mate, and could multi-task at the same time. It just stopped being as captivating as it once was. The Dana-Finn storyline was crap all the way, and the family has been needlessly involved in the storyline. In fact, to me they were just a filler for screen-time. At the same time, I'm almost relieved that Nazir did turn out to be a master-mind after all. He sure took it's time to get there. As we wait 6 months for Season 3, I do look forward to why Brody was framed? If it was Abu-Nazir's plan at work, at some level he did love Brody, so why frame him? Why not place the bomb on someone else's car and park it instead? Sunday's just got less interesting :(

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In regards to Quinn…and I know it's a long shot because Homeland throws a curve ball everytime you think you've figured it out…I think he's the mole. He supervised the whole surveillance on Brody, gave Carrie enough room to feel in charge and uncover all of the events that led to the bomb at Langley. If Quinn had shot Brody, he wouldn't have been on the manifest and the car bomb being by him and the tape being released couldn't have worked…Brody needed to be around. Also, I am really interested to see how Saul and Carrie try to hunt down this new terrorist introduced on the tape played after Brody's. They both know Brody's suicide tape was for over a year ago, but admiting that means admiting to the president, new vice and public that they knew Brody was a terrorist at one point, but used him as bate for Nazir, which was a big part of setting up the scene for the bombing. Either way, I thought bringing the tape back was a great move - I honestly thought its sole purpose was to prove that Carrie wasn't insane, and then it was brought back in the best fashion. Also I really now think Brody was never a big player in Nazirs plot, and that he was a pawn to be maneuvered for the bigger plan. I now also question if Nazir was always fully in charge. Plausible or not, the show does have some fantastic twists, supported by brilliant acting. Mandy Patinkin is possibly the most under rated actor on the show, and it will be great to see him in a bigger role next season