With one episode remaining in the second season of "Homeland," several plotlines reached their conclusions, while others blew wide open.
Episode 11 killed off two of the series' most obviously troublesome characters: Abu Nazir and the Brodys' marriage. Perhaps most interestingly, the season two finale is set up to take yet another angle on the same conflict that has driven the show to this point: the struggle for control of Nicholas Brody's fate.
The first shots of the episode showed the characters exactly where they were at the end of last week's installment -- with Carrie lurking in Nazir's warehouse hideout; Quinn and others on their way to back her up; Saul help up at Langley in a bad situation; and the Brodys reaching their boiling point after several days of isolation in protective custody.
Even though Carrie is SURE he was RIGHT THERE, the teams sent to inspect the warehouse and adjacent tunnels fail to find Nazir. Carrie heads back to Langley, where she looks like she could really use a shower, or even just a change of clothes. She sneaks into Roya Hamad's interrogation room without Quinn's permission and delivers a monologue intended to manipulate Roya into a confession. Roya doesn't fall for Carrie's good cop routine, and she leaves the room shaken.
Unsatisfied, Carrie returns to the scene where she was held by Nazir and demands a final sweep of the site, and she personally accompanies the small attachment still lingering around the warehouses. It sure looks like it would be smart to have a little more backup, but as soon as the thought forms in our minds, Carrie turns around to find the soldier next to her dead, his throat slit.
A chase ensues, with Carrie and Nazir cat-and-mousing through the dark space until a handful of backup soldiers, presumably following the sounds of Carrie's voice, corners Nazir. They find him kneeling serenely, ready to accept his capture. He reaches for what might be a weapon and someone shoots.
Ding dong, Nazir is dead!!! But why does everyone look so glum? Brody, especially, reacts to the news of his secret mentor with genuine tears. This unexpected reaction tells everyone in the family that there may be a lot they don't know about this husband/father/war hero/congressman/philanderer. Dana has lost patience with the charade, and her tantrum about how Mike is a better dad actually helps to break the ice.
Released from FBI custody, the Brodys head home. Nick and Jessica discuss the inevitable in the driveway, and Morena Baccarin (the actress who plays Jessica) finally delivers an emotionally resonant scene after many, many clunky episodes. The Brody's don't blame each other, they say, but it's time to give up on the marriage.
Brody heads straight to Carrie's, where she receives him warmly at the door. But who is that lurking in the bushes? Ah yes, it's Quinn, apparently with orders to kill Brody at the soonest opportunity. His potential hide-out at Carries, however, makes Quinn's mission quite a bit more complicated.
To sum up before the finale, let's review the major conflicts and their resolutions. One of the qualities that makes this show so satisfying is it's ability to invent variations on a theme; that is, to fold the same conflict in on itself in order to keep the audience guessing.
Carrie vs. the CIA. The primary plot of season one centered around Carrie's conviction that Brody had been 'turned' and was working for Nazir, while the rest of the agency dismissed her theory as the product of her mental illness.
Point went to Carrie, who proved that bipolar disorder and amazing spy savvy are decidedly not mutually exclusive.
CIA vs. terrorists. Season two kept us guessing with regard to Brody's loyalties. Meanwhile, Carrie and others worked around the clock to detect and intervene Nazir's next big civilian-targeting move. The interception of a plot to bomb a state event, the assassination of Nazir, and the arrest of Roya Hamad wrapped up this conflict as a decisive victory for the CIA.
CIA vs. CIA – the plot thickens! Now that Brody has fulfilled his function as an informant vital for the capture of Abu Nazir, Estes regards him as nothing more than a liability and has ordered Quinn to assassinate the sitting congressman.
Saul picked up on the plan, and now his job at the CIA has been threatened/suspended by Estes, who has ordered Saul out of the way. Once Carrie finds out what's going on, she's sure to side with Saul regarding the CIA's responsibility toward Brody.
How much does Brody know, or suspect? We're curious to find out if he showed up at Carrie's house at the end of tonight's episode in the interest of love, or protection.
Round three, continued (maybe):
Carrie & Brody vs. America. Let's not forget that these two are now harboring a major secret – that is, the murder of Vice President Walden. Will they keep the secret? Or could one turn on the other?
Given that Carrie always wins, our money's with her. Just when she seems most defenseless, she always manages to outsmart everyone around her. Whether this means that Brody will live, it's too soon to say… But we'd like to see him around for another season, so we'll be rooting for these star-crossed lovers next week!