[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from Sunday's Season 3 finale of "Homeland." Read at your own risk.]
It's actually kind of funny that each of "Homeland"'s three season finales have, in one way or another, hinged on the same question: Will Nicholas Brody live or die?
OK, so that wasn't really the question in Season 2; it only felt that way because Brody (Damian Lewis) seemed like he was living on borrowed time ever since he opted not to blow himself up via suicide vest in the first season-ender. But going into Sunday's Season 3 finale — which picked up moments after Brody, working at the behest of the CIA, killed General Akbari inside the Iranian leader's secure compound — Brody's odds of surviving his latest "suicide mission" seemed quite long.
Fortunately for Brody, he was able to basically stroll out of Akbari's office with little fanfare, save for a testy armed guard demanding that Brody give up his visitors' pass. When the guards finally did learn what happened, Brody was able to force his driver at gunpoint to get the heck out of Dodge, steal his car, and head to a park to meet up with Carrie (Claire Danes), who had informed Saul (Mandy Patinkin) that Brody carried out the mission and begged Saul to initiate the extraction plan.
But of course, that's easier said than done. Javadi (Shaun Toub) tells Saul and Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) that in order for Phase 2 of the CIA's operation to work — aka for Javadi to be promoted to Ackbari's position — Javadi must arrest Brody at the risk of otherwise appearing weak. But perhaps against better judgment, Saul refuses to leave Brody in the field and orders Dar to ready the extraction plan.
While Carrie and Brody wait for the extraction team out in the desert, Carrie asks Brody what's next when they get home. Because he's a realist, Brody admits never expecting to have made it this far. And although he acknowledges that he seems to be an un-killable cockroach, just like the doctor in the Caracas slum said he was, Brody isn't so sure that he's cut out for redemption. "In what universe can you redeem one murder by committing another?" Brody asks Carrie, whose only answer is to finally tell Brody she's pregnant.
Carrie goes on and on about how, because of the baby, she has to think about what's next and, for better or worse, she thinks she was put on this earth to meet Brody. (Oh boy...) When she admits that sounds crazy, Brody drinks the Kool-Aid. "I don't think that sounds crazy at all. It sounds like the only sane f---ing thing left to hold on to."
While Carrie creepily stares at Brody while he sleeps, she hears helicopters in the distance. Believing the rescue team is nearby, she wakes Brody and the pair rush outside. Unfortunately, the team outside belongs to Javadi, and the men quickly apprehend Brody. Carrie informs Saul, who storms to the Op Center to learn that Senator Lockhart (Tracy Letts) has taken his post a few hours early and, with the blessing of the president, turned Brody over to Javadi and the Iranians.
Carrie makes one last-ditch effort to save Brody with Javadi, but he insists that Brody must die via public hanging. Javadi tells Carrie that this was always the risk of the mission and that she and Brody pulling it off was a minor miracle. "What he did, there can be no debate. It was astonishing and undeniable. Eveyrone sees him through your eyes now," Javadi says. And when Carrie places one last call to Brody to insist she will save him, he stops her in her tracks. "It's over," he says. "I want it to be over." And with that, Brody accepts his dark fate. Hours later, he is hanged as Carrie, who despite Brody's final wishes, looks on in grief.
After a four-month time jump, we learn that Saul is out of the CIA for good. And even though he's setting up his own firm in the private sector in New York, the big news is that, because of Saul's master plan, Iran's political policies are changing. Carrie, who's ready to go into labor any day now, accepts Director Lockhart's offer to be the CIA station chief in Istanbul, the youngest chief in agency history. As such, she informs her family that she intends to give the baby up for adoption. Although Carrie's sister insists that Carrie will feel differently once the baby is born, she seems to have made up her mind.
But she still wants to have a piece of Brody remembered. After unsuccessfully arguing to have Lockhart include Brody's name at the annual commemorative ceremony for fallen agents, Carrie scribbles a hand-drawn star on the memorial before she leaves the building.
So, where does the show go from here? The truth is, it can go pretty much anywhere. With Brody dead, this finale brought an end to much of the driving narrative behind first three seasons. I'd hate to think that this is the last we've seen of Saul, but his story feels complete too. Sure, we're left wondering what Carrie will do about the baby/Istanbul, but all of that could hopefully provide a new way to contextualize the character in a Season 4 freed from the weight of issues such as Brody's continued existence, or more accurately, the way Brody being alive always made Carrie behave.
In truth, the show can now have what it's needed — what it could have had if Brody had succeeded with that suicide vest back in Season 1 as producers had originally planned. The show now has a chance at a fresh start, one that hopefully will surprise us all once more.
What did you think of the "Homeland" finale?