Did he do it?
That is the question Homeland has left us with at the end of its revolutionary and controversial second season, the question its writers hope will fuel countless debates that will carry us until next fall. On the one hand, we have Nicholas Brody’s word to Carrie that he had nothing to do with the car bombing that killed over 200 souls at C.I.A. headquarters, including David Estes and the rest of Vice President Walden’s family. On the other hand, we have the fact that Brody’s car was used for that bombing — and, more to the point, that practically every single thing we know about the man other than his love for Carrie screams “ARE YOU NUTS?! OF COURSE HE DID IT!”
Then again, this question may be moot. If you scroll down to the comments below, I guarantee there will be plenty of people who have declared themselves done with this show. I suspect for many it will be for two simple reasons: Carrie believed Brody, and Brody didn’t die. I’ve made no secret of my own belief that the best path for Homeland was to do what they’d originally planned for the end of season 1, namely kill Nicholas Brody off, and let Carrie and Saul move on. You can read my argument here, but apparently, the folks at Homeland did not choose to heed my sage advice. Instead, they crafted one of its best directed and acted episodes ever, a masterwork of cinematic scale and deeply felt intimacy. As my colleague Ken Tucker has been contending of late, all of it was designed to make as strong a case as possible that Carrie and Brody’s impossible love for each other is the true core of this show, and that letting their love die along with Brody would silence Homeland’s beating heart.
They’ve almost convinced me. For one thing, I’m not nearly certain that Brody did it. And for another, I enjoyed Brody and Carrie’s early scenes together so much, I finally understood why the writers feel so strongly that they need to keep Brody alive.
And yet, when Carrie and Brody finally parted ways in the woods along the Canadian border, a very big part of me still wanted Carrie to go all Buffy season 2 on Brody and kill the man she loved knowing he was maybe-possibly-could-be-well-nigh good again. (Of course, Homeland can’t avail itself of a metaphysical hell dimension that spits out a naked Brody a few months later after 100 years worth of torment. It’s not that implausible.)
At least, that’s how I feel right now. It could be how you feel too. Let’s work through the episode together, and see if we still feel the same way on the other side. Rather than split off each plot strand individually, though, I’m going to more-or-less take on the episode as we saw it, if for no other reason than its 65-minute runtime is already neatly apportioned into three discrete acts. Starting with…
NEXT: Who knew Brody could juggle?