Homeland recap: Goodbye, My Love

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December 19, 2012 by Susan Miller

Allah... You can't shoot me while I'm praying... Allah...

Allah… You can’t shoot me while I’m praying… Allah…

Apologies to our many readers for the lateness of these last few recaps.  We got a little lazy at the end of the season.  Much like the writing staff.  Oooh, burn.  We’ll… try… to be better?  It feels unwise to make promises.

So here we are again.  The end of season 2.  Brody still, inexplicably, alive.  Carrie still, inexplicably, a valuable member of the team.  The mole still, inexplicably, ignored.  There was a grand explosion that wiped out Estes, the Waldens, and all the other CIA people we never met.  Saul is now in charge of the CIA and Carrie will, I assume, be his number 2 going forward.  Seems like it would be hard for her to get her security clearance back, but whatever.  Details.  The show has essentially taken two seasons to tell the Brody/Nazir story and now they’re back to page one.  The Brody’s are out, Mike is irrelevant, the bad guys, both foreign and domestic, are dead and Brody has been shipped to Canada.  The only thing left to do is put the show back in Mandy Patinkin’s reliable hands and see if people still like it.  I’m in.  Are you?

Will Carrie tell Saul the truth?  Will he believe her?

Susan:  I hope that Carrie tells most of the truth and I hope that Saul doesn’t entirely believe her.  It will be the first test for the new season.  Saul needs to ask her real, in-depth questions and not let her off the hook with vague responses like, “I escaped.  I was lucky.”  I don’t think she needs to tell Saul that Brody is alive and that she helped him get away.  Some secrets are needed for tension, and that one makes the most sense.  However, I’m a little bit worried that they’ll gloss over the whole thing with a major time jump between season 2 and 3 and we’ll just have to wonder how much Saul does/doesn’t know.  Gansa and Gordon mentioned in their Grantland interview that they hope to focus on the life of a CIA agent more next season.  Hopefully that means we get more of Carrie’s struggle with her disorder, Quinn’s backstory and Saul’s marital status.  I’m more interested in these characters as people and how they interact with each other.  I’ll put up with a lot more plot silliness if I know and enjoy the people at the center of it all.  Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) has been proving that since 2006.

Steven: I have less than no reason to believe that Carrie will be completely frank with Saul.  I mean, yes, she does tell him about a lot of her crazy actions, but the last few episodes have shown her to be less and less reliable in the truth-telling department.  For instance, if she does say, “Saul, Brody’s innocent of this,” will she follow that up with, “But he did murder V.P. Walden and I helped him flee the country by way of a Canadian fishing boat”?  I highly doubt it.  If the writers completely skip over this issue, I will be five shades of not watching season 3.

Also, here’s what I can only hope is a rumor.  The writers want to focus next season on Carrie’s over-medication in this season and to show how no longer being manic makes her worse at her job??  That’s just exactly what the bi-polar viewers need: a season of relating to their illness, then a season of telling them they’re over-medicated, and then finally a season implying they were better off in the throes of manic episodes.  This is my soap box: Don’t do that.  There are already enough dolts who believe that manic-depressives are creative because of their illness instead of in spite of the incredibly inconvenient beast that is mental illness.

How often should we see Brody next season?

Susan:  In an ideal world, we wouldn’t see him at all.  If he’s really being honest, and had nothing to do with the explosion, there is zero reason for us to check in on him.  I think it would be much more interesting to have Carrie working to clear his name throughout the next couple of seasons, fall in love with Quinn, and then bring Brody back in season 5 for an epically tragic love triangle.  That, or we could do an ER George Clooney kind of thing where Julianna Margulies decides to quit the hospital and reunites with George Clooney two seasons later in her farewell to the show.  A Brody and Carrie reunion would be a fun way to end the series, but it shouldn’t be a major part of the present story.

The trouble with this aggressive pacing that Homeland loves so much is that the story has to change dramatically each season.  This year they tried to keep too many of the old elements around in new combinations and it just required too many manipulations to feel genuine.  Now I understand why so many shows are hesitant to move as fast as Homeland.  It’s fun, and can be done effectively, but it means you lose great actors and have to do a lot more work in the writer’s room.  We’ll see if they’ll be able to avoid old, familiar habits.

Steven: I feel like including Brody in next season would be a final confession to the audience: Yes, we just really love Damien Lewis.  The minute that happens, it’s like the third Bourne movie all over again.  A speeding nuclear asteroid could be hurtling towards earth, and we just know that Bourne is going to break free from his handcuffs, crack the submarine hatch, fashion a rocket out of his rickety Italian motorcycle and safely orbit the earth until the volcanoes stop erupting.  If Brody doesn’t go away now, I don’t trust the writers to ever get rid of him.

Stray Thoughts

There were many, many, many problems with this season and the finale, but there was still some very cool craft at work.  Here are a few of my favorite narrative threads.  The first episode of this season closed on the image of Carrie smiling.  The last episode of this season closed on the image of Saul smiling.  At the end of season 1, Carrie was the only one who knew that Brody was guilty.  Now, at the end of season 2, she’s the only one who knows he’s innocent.  A famous scene in season 1 depicted Saul spreading peanut butter on crackers with a ruler, because he couldn’t find a knife.  This year we got another scene with him and peanut butter, and Quinn eating tuna out of a can while he spied on Brody and Carrie.  With the season ending with Carrie and Saul as the lone survivors of the CIA as we know it, it looks like the show might be getting back to the basics of season 1.

No mention of Danny “the mole” Galvez in the finale.  His mortality is a bit of a moving target, so I’m sure we won’t know for sure until next season whether he attended the fateful memorial service.  Speaking of moles, I was convinced during the finale that Saul was the mole.  Since then, twitter and podcasts and interviews and general internet knowledge have assured me that I’m wrong and I should be ashamed to even think such a thing about poor, dear, fatherly Saul.  Personally, I thought it would be kind of a fun twist.  Apparently that makes me joyless.

If season 3 rebounds and everyone starts to love Homeland again, we may have another Friday Night Lights situation on our hands.  Instead of “remember that time Tyra and Landry killed that guy?” it would be “remember that time Brody killed the tailor and washed the blood off his shirt at the car wash?”  The parallels are very similar.  Dana and Finn’s joyride hit and run would be like Jason’s trip to Mexico to get shark DNA.  Roya will be just as mysteriously forgotten as Santiago.  Carrie’s stint working for the CIA will be as irrelevant as Tyra’s volleyball career.  It could happen.  But season 3 has to be better.  If not, we’ll just have another Heroes on our hands.  Yikes.

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