Thanks a lot, Showtime.
Due to a pair of startling finales last night - the conclusion of Dexter Season 7 and Homeland Season 2 - that network kept me awake for hours, my mind churning over the direction of Deb on the former and the future of Carrie and company on the latter.
So while colleagues Miranda Wicker and Dan Forcella did an outstanding job reviewing each of the episodes - read Miranda's take on "Surprise, Motherfucker" now and Dan's rundown of "The Choice" - I had to step in and express my reviews as well...
DEXTER I hated Dexter Season 6, despised it, would have given up on the show entirely if not for the concluding scene that finally revealed Dexter's Dark Passenger to his sister. Any long-time fan simply has to give Season 7 a chance after that.
And thank goodness I did. The dozen episodes that comprised this run were on par with the iconic Dexter Season 4, with the drama's title character no longer running from who he is, but embracing it and trying to explain it to Deb, while finding a murderous soulmate in Yvonne Strahovski's Hannah McKay.
I actually wish Hannah were locked up and we weren't stuck watching her difficult-to-believe escape from the police; that was my one complaint of the finale. It was time for her great storyline to end. But everything else kept me glued to the screen, with that final, contained-based confrontation between Deb, LaGuerta and Dexter growing as tense as it gets.
Even though we know Deb would shoot LaGuerta, didn't we? She clearly wouldn't turn the gun on her brother, not with one season remaining. Yet it was still shocking when she took this homicidal step, a kill that even Dexter himself wouldn't have gone through with just a couple weeks ago. It was against any semblance of Harry's Code. And it was an unexpected, terrific step for the series to take. It's bold, it's different and it sets up a fascinating dynamic for 2013.
So here are heading into Season 8: brother and sister are on the same evil team and there are more opportunities ahead for Jennifer Carpenter to try and wrangle an Emmy from Claire Danes. Oh, and Quinn may be dating Jamie! Count me in.
HOMELAND Here is why I loved the season finale: Because any other show of this nature would have concluded the episode with the bomb explosion. That was the action-packed cliffhanger, right? That was the event that would leave fans wondering and talking all the way through the winter, spring and summer.
But Homeland went beyond the body count. It took us inside the Brody/Carrie relationship once again, it delved into the terrific Saul and his wife and his connection to Carrie (I could watch that voicemail message for hours) and, just like the season premiere, it concluded with a smile.
Yes, various developments this season strained credulity, Carrie's car accident and Nazir kidnapping topping that list. But I can forgive the series because it always comes back to its characters; it may set crazy events in motion around these people, but the emotional payoff is always believable and worthwhile. And the performances are among the best on television.
From Saul uttering the mourner's prayer to, heck, even Chris Brody breaking down at the viewing of his father's taped confession, the finale continued to up the emotional stakes. Does it seem very hard to believe that Nazir could really have plotted such an elaborate scheme, that the dominoes could have fallen so perfectly for it to work? Yes.
But I don't care. I just want to watch Season 3 to see how these fascinating individuals respond to the attack.