The end of Homeland's fantastic first season

Last updated 11:03 01/05/2012

The FANTASTIC (yes, all caps) first season of Homeland finished up with a double-episode last night on TV3, giving us a few scenes it had pretty much committed itself to, but ending the story in a place that I don't think anyone really expected it to end. Well, I wasn't expecting it - and while the show was FANTASTIC, that end point has me a little concerned. A few more thoughts, right after this elaborate spoiler warning.

(Warning: MAJOR spoilers follow from last night's finale, and the entire first season, of Homeland.)

Let's start by being completely honest: did anyone really believe that Brody was going to end up splattered all over the walls of that little bunker, along with everyone else in the room?* I know I didn't.

20120501As far back as last week, it became clear that exploding a collection of dignitaries was Brody's evil master plan, but it also seemed highly unlikely that it would actually happen. Sure, that's mostly because of expectations (aside from the odd show like Game Of Thrones, lead actors just don't get killed off without plenty of fanfare). However, it did mean that the story wasn't just whether Brody would pull off his plan, but how he'd eventually be thwarted.

It also meant that the focus expanded from the actions of just one guy ("oh no, will Brody do it?!") to the actions of a wider group of characters (Carrie, Saul, and David especially) that we've come to know and love over the last few months - and in that way, it's a subtle stroke of genius on the part of producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon.

Gansa and Gordon have done a wonderful job of using the small details - the minutiae of the story they're telling - to great effect. Small moments like Walker cutting a hole in a window then setting up that poor woman's dining table, or the clever way Walker and Brody beat the security detail at the entrance, have turned the broader strokes of Homeland into a more complete story, and in many ways kept us on the edge of our seat as we got to this end point.

The pair have also done a great job with fashioning the characters and relationships at the centre of this tale.

As other reviewers have pointed out, Carrie is the only person who knows the truth of what Brody was trying to do, while Brody is the only person who knows that Carrie was right (and, by using Brody's daughter Dana, she managed to stop Brody from going through with his attack). And that complication adds another twisted layer to their relationship, one that should provide some intrigue heading into a second season.

The relationship between our two leads has been the magic at the core of the series so far, so keeping that magic through the finale, and presumably on into next year, is the best way forward. Of course it helps that Claire Danes and Damian Lewis turned in the performances of their lives. It's safe to say they're probably the best 1-2 on all of television right now, with quality support from Mandy Patinkin, Monica Baccarin and David Harewood.

We also leave Brody at a really interesting place in his story. It seemed a little convenient that Brody was able to convince Abu Nazir of his new plan to infiltrate the government (even if I have been manipulated to think it was a better plan to blow himself and a good portion of the American government into smithereens), but seeing that unfold should provide an interesting basis for a second season.

Plus, Brody's personal life is under threat, even if he has joined the inner sanctum of soon-to-be president William Walden (played by Jamey "Randall Flagg" Sheridan). How will Dana respond to the revelation that her dad was in cahoots with a known terrorist? What does Jess make of everything that just happened? Those are intriguing wrinkles, and I hope they pan out.

Less convincing is the position we leave Carrie in and what part she'll play going forward. Carrie's personal, emotional unravelling over the last few weeks has been riveting to watch (with Danes rising to the occasion**), but electro-shock therapy - and the short-term memory loss that goes with it - is going to leave her at a disadvantage when we come back to this story. We can only hope that her therapy doesn't do too much damage.

But for right now, we can look back at a near perfect season of television, regardless of whatever lingering questions we might have going forward. Homeland (and TV3) just gave us 12 episodes of truly engrossing television, featuring one of the most interesting stories around, with performances from one of the greatest ensembles put together on a single show. I loved it, and I can't wait for more.

What did you think of the first season of Homeland? Did you love it as much as I did? How do you feel about the finale - do you think it did a good job of wrapping up the season? And are you excited for more?

(*) Or, to use a visual from earlier in the season, that his head would be the only part that survived the explosion?

(**) This seems like a good place to say that we should give Claire Danes ALL THE AWARDS.

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honkytonkpopcorn   #1   11:17 am May 01 2012

enjoyed the series immensely but can't totally agree with you regarding Claire Danes; I thought she was great early on in the series but in the later episodes where she had to act drunk and/or crazy she was not believable at all. still looking forward to season 2 though.

Paul   #2   11:26 am May 01 2012

Pathetic ending, sorry. I feel they wrote themselves into a corner and Carrie's character is now a big pain in the butt.

John2   #3   11:29 am May 01 2012

The ending was probably decided by ratings and wether or not the show was carried on for a 2nd season much like the 'Killing' on SOHO.

If bad ratings then he blows them up otherwise carry on to a 2nd season (Don't think it can go into a 3rd season)

The only issue I had with it was that Brodie didn't get noticed either of the 2 times he was about to blow up the vice president. The guys security detail would have been watching him like a hawk and anyone around him especially any newcomers and Brodie was the newest. Those guys are suspicious of everyone regardless of who they are.

Dave   #4   11:30 am May 01 2012

Great series, left me wanting more. 12 episodes is too short for a series! The storyline has been great, especially with the attention to little details. The ending was far from what I anticipated, but left it in a perfectly precarious situation. The wait for the 2nd series will be much too long!

...Louise...   #5   11:34 am May 01 2012

I actually missed what Carrie said just before she went under, can anyone tell me? Or will it give something away. Thought it was a good ending, but worried they will just drag it out interminably.

Also CONFESSION TIME: Am I the only person who is going to be taking a sneaky peak at "The GC"? The Aussie Mossie equivalent of Jersey Shore?

Theresa   #6   11:42 am May 01 2012

Couldn't look away LOVED IT!

But frustrated that TV3 seemed to have used Homelands end as an excuse to dump CSI? Any idea when we might get to see the backend of Catherine's good-bye?

Jono   #7   11:44 am May 01 2012

A truly terrific series. American TV standards have rapidly risen with the advent over the last 10 years of cable series on HBO etc, but Homeland has proved to be a true high point and worthy of every award it wins. Having recently spent some time in the USA I think they have set the context perfectly - a post 9/11, post Bush world where the USA is desperately seeking heroes and where their old sense of being bullet proof has well and truly gone. terrific acting all around. Mandy Patinkin and Damian Lewis are always terrific to watch but Claire Danes has been a real revelation. In the last few weeks she has been riveting and deserves much of the credit for the shows success.

_Vince   #8   12:04 pm May 01 2012

There were some good tense bits in the finale but overall, I find it a rather dreary, depressing show where the sky always seems to be overcast. And I can't believe Morena Baccarin would be a housewife in some anonymous bit of American suburbia. She's rather miscast, IMO. Scriptwise, I think it's good that they present both sides of the story... it was wrong for the US to bomb kids, but if terrorists are going to live and hide among kids, what do they expect?

Frank   #9   12:08 pm May 01 2012

What no comments! Absolutely brilliant. I laughed when you said "had us on the edge of our seats" as I was literally sitting on the edge of mine. I have to say I came into this series a bit late as I've never been a fan of Clare Dane's but she was fantastic in this. Looking foward to Season 2.

AC   #10   12:09 pm May 01 2012

Really enjoyed the series and I also didn't expect Brody to go through with blowing himself up when it came to it. Although I didn't expect it to be the bomb failing to go off as I though he would eventually chicken out and not flick the switch. Also thought surely someone would have noticed him sweating/panicking/crying and holding that switch in his hand in that room wouldn't they?

Until it was revealed a few episodes ago I really thought he was going to turn out to not be the terrorist and was a little disappointed when it turned out he was.

Couple of things weren't resolved for me. They never got to the bottom of who passed the razor blade to Hamid although with Brody finally being revealed as working for Abu Nazir I guess it's assumed it was him?

Also they didn't appear to find out how Walker knew that Saudi Diplomat was being used as bait to lure him out. They thought there must have been a leak somewhere from within the CIA but unless I managed to miss it that didn't seem to be discovered. Perhaps we are meant to assume the diplomat informed Nazir of it, or that the drawing placed in the window was in fact a signal they were compromised rather than signalling a normal meeting, without expecting to be blown up himself of course. We are at least led to believe Brody had no idea Walker was even still alive, let alone that he was in on the whole plot.

Looking forward to series 2!

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