Homeland’s season three finale “The Star” is segmented into two parts, so we’ll tackle it as such. “The Star” two segments plainly show the series two sides: the well executed spy thriller and the character drama.
“The Star” dosen’t pause for a second, starting without a “Previously On”, forgoing the jazz tuned credit sequence (they should just drop that). We return to Akbari’s office a couple of beats after Brody calls Carrie. Where do you hide a body in a room without a broom closet? The point isn’t belabored and Brody is able to get out relatively unscathed. It’s time for Carrie and Brody to leave Iran. That is an idea that is running on two different tracks. Carrie fully believing in the power of the all mighty Saul, and everyone else in the Agency bracing themselves for the cold truth were the Agency eats her young. Only Carrie wanted to see Brody get out this alive, even Brody would admit, he’s better off dead. Even the Showtime God seems to have made peace with losing one of his creations.
At least Carrie and Brody got the majority of a final night together. AS terrible as the emphasis on Carrie and Brody’s romantic relationship, so much so that it has consumed Carrie, man, do Claire Daines and Damien Lewis have GREAT chemistry together. Whenever they are on screen together its hard to argue why the show wouldn’t emphasize their romantic coupldom. That final scene in a secluded sort of cabin has perhaps the best justification possible for that emphasis; that in a world as crazy as homeland, holding onto that idea of true love and that it was fate to meet each other sounds like the only “sane” move to make. It mostly flies due to Homelandlargely being from the perspective of Carrie. I’ve never been that enamored with the tortured doomed romance aspect of Carrie-Brody, the idea of them being these two broken cogs in great machines made much more sense. But hey, Danes and Lewis chemistry was still watchable no matter how dumb it got. There was still that moment where Brody in withdrawals nose flares up at the mere scent of her.
The Cabin scene tries to somewhat acknowledge the state of Homeland. Brody still in shock that he killed a man, no matter how “bad” Carrie says he was we and Brody don’t know him. He was just a boogeyman created in the last couple of episodes. His instance that he isn’t a marine or a cockroach was a nice touch.
What dosen’t fly nearly at all was Javadi’s instance that this mission for Carrie was about getting the world to see Brody how she sees him. For starters, it flies in the face of both Javadi and Brody’s talk about how they are not binary people but multiple things to multiple people all at the same time. Brody was a marine, terrorist, holy man, murder, father, and husband every waking moment not when the show needed him to be one thing. It’s a move designed to give Brody that redemption Carrie wants for him, and I don’t think there ever was or could be redemption for Brody. He had a lot of red on his ledger and all the CIA made him do is add more to it. Homeland season 3 last minute play to the emotional side of the audience is too late.
Executions are nasty business. Showing executions might be nastier, which explains the impact and affecting nature of The Act of Killing. There is a morbid perfunctoryness to Brody’s hanging. Nothing can be done but go through the motions until the inevitable ends. Hanging him from a crane was a bit much.
So, on that note, Homeland cuts to 4 months later and “The Star” moves into a weird phase of sentimentality that wasn’t earned. Everyone is just so satisfied with what has occurred. Maybe it is the short turn around in episode time that makes it feel off. Those characters went on existing for 4 months and got past some stuff while we just saw Brody die. As a way to show the agency continues after eating its young, replacing the broken cogs with new shiny ones, it works. Homeland hasn’t really done any of the groundwork to set that up though, it was all about Carrie going through a mission and being a good cog even as it constantly broke her. Going half way on Carrie realizing that maybe, she doesn’t want to be station chief in Istanbul and that maybe she’s better off without the CIA made matters worse. She gets right up to the edge of realizing this and than just decides that it’s too late to realize that the life you wanted is utter shit so might as well keep on the tracks.
Not even going to touch how Carrie is still at the CIA and ready to give birth (at this point let’s give her a happy healthy child its fiction after all). After all this how does she still work for them? Why is Peter Quinn still around? Whatever happened to Fara (remember her, the cool new character?).
The time skip does push Homeland into territory where it needs to redefine itself. What is this show without Brody? Will there even be Carrie in the lead role for season 4? She was so defined by Brody love that now that he’s gone, what story is there left to tell about her and the CIA? The time skip does nothing to even hint at the answers. Only that Carrie is freaked out about being a mom (a good reaction I’d assume) and she is o so very sad. Saul seems to be fully out of the picture now as well. As Saul is leaving the CIA, slowly vanishing into the blurry distance, the camera lingers on Carrie with Danes showing the hint of a struggle to leave with him and end this abusive relationship, which she admitted previously, might not be what she wants anymore. That certainly would have been an interesting way to end the season and the series.
I’ve lost touch with that sort of emotional connection to this shows characters, that was really strong in seasons 1 and 2 and I’d say the writers lost that connection too. Season 4 now free of the Brody anchor is full of possibility, the writers could reestablish that connection or build new ones. Meredith Stiehm return to the show as an executive producer and back in the writers room has me hopeful for season 4.