'Homeland' review: Death versus romance? 'It wasn't even close'

HOMELAND

Image Credit: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME

In a way, what this week’s Homeland was about was one of the most simple things imaginable for a complex piece of television: Allowing a love story to unfold. Which is a storytelling goal that will, I’m pretty sure, annoy nearly as many viewers as it pleases.

SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS WEEK’S HOMELAND.

By the end of this hour, Abu Nazir was dead, and so was Brody’s marriage. The killing of Nazir, a narrative event that by any measure should have felt surprising, climactic, dramatic if not wildly dramatic, ended up being a fascinatingly airless, deflated scene. In that way, it seemed more realistic. This was not a triumphant, “we got the bastard!” moment, a movie moment, a SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Ladin moment. No, we were as dazed, as shell-shocked, as Carrie looked to be. Estes’ congratulations to her (“Good work”), were appropriately bureaucrat-flat; indeed, the real drama for Estes, one sensed, was that he thinks he’s gotten rid of one problem (that would be Saul, framed by his own words in an Estes-manipulated lie-detector test) and not able to rest until he’s finished with another problem (that would be the continued existence of Brody).

The exceptional scene of the week was the one in the car between Brody and Jessica, as they finally semi-articulated that they are over as a couple. Morena Baccarin has never been better, playing Jessica’s by-now-resigned betrayal, emotional exhaustion, and mixture of anger and guilt beautifully. Her performance enabled you to believe her character’s sincerity when she said, “I tried, Brody, I really tried” as much as when she said of Carrie, “you must love her a lot.” These moments were like something out of a good John Updike short story — the disintegration of a suburban marriage, no matter the military/espionage trappings surrounding it. (Also, earlier: great Dana moments. Morgan Saylor, you’re fantastic.)

Brody’s declaration of devotion to Carrie by the end was also wincingly convincing — saying that when it came down to “you or Walden,” “it wasn’t even close” — well, I, you, and Carrie should hope so, given the context up to this point. Yet that moment was all the more touching, more real-seeming, for just this awkwardness.

Where does the show go next week? Don’t know and can’t guess. I do know I hated to see Saul pushed out the door, which was exactly what the producers wanted me to feel, which makes me think he’s not going to be. Do I think, as I suggested last week, that Carrie might end up killing Brody? No, I don’t any more.

But putting them together as a couple may end up killing their romance. You know how when you finally achieve something you thought you really, really wanted, and then you get it, you can quickly discover it’s not what you thought it was going to be? That may be the way Brody ends up feeling about Carrie. And maybe vice versa. Though I wouldn’t put it past Carrie to reassert her CIA, patriotic ethos and do something to Brody that’s going to push him away, maybe send him on the lam. Homeland, season three: The Fugitive.

Certainly for the nit-pickers who gathered in a hive mentality buzzing over last week’s “Broken Hearts,” there were nits to be picked this week as well: Why was Carrie not de-briefed as soon as she stepped out of the abandoned mill, having escaped from Nazir? Why did the show make a point of having Quinn tell Carrie that the FBI teams sweeping the mill worked in pairs, have Carrie flag down the remaining pair of FBI agents when she wanted to go back in, yet pair her off with just one agent so that he could have his solo throat slit by Nazir and allow the terrorist to go mano-a-mana against Carrie?

But I’m not playing those games of shoulda-woulda-coulda; doing so squelches the pleasure for me. I’m all in for a season finale that sends the series off in a direction that feels right, in my head and my heart. Because that’s also how Brody and Carrie want to feel: Right in the head and the heart.

Twitter: @kentucker

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