Homeland 3.12 “The Star” Review: Hanging On and Letting Go

Chris King December 16, 2013 0

homeland6

Wow. That’s what I was left saying after last night’s season finale of Homeland. While season three of Homeland has suffered from uneven pacing and questionable focus on certain characters or plotlines, its finale, “The Star,” was pretty perfect, and combined with the four episodes that preceded it, this finale essentially made up for whatever meandering was going on earlier in Homeland’s third season.

The main reason why Homeland has been working over the past few weeks (and especially during “The Star”) is because of the series’ ability to provide emotionally authentic and satisfying moments, even if the circumstances and situations that yield these moments require some form of questioning or suspension of disbelief. Last night, in each scene that Damian Lewis and Claire Danes shared, in each conversation that Carrie and Brody had, in each last moment we got to spend with Brody before he met his unfortunate but inevitable demise, Homeland worked incredibly well. I never questioned how feasible it would be for Brody to slip by Akbari’s men or whether Lockhart would still want Carrie to be a major player in the CIA after all that’s happened this season because moments like Carrie and Brody’s phone call, where she begged him to stay on the line for just a few more seconds so she could hear him breathe, or when, at the episode’s conclusion, Carrie drew her own star for Brody on the CIA’s memorial wall, were so emotionally honest and powerful that they almost brought tears to my eyes.

In a way, the disjointedness of this season now works on some level and is more understandable. Almost everything that has happened, all the stray plot threads and characters, from Carrie’s stay in the psychiatric hospital to Saul’s relentless determination to ensure that his plan succeeded, to Lockhart’s stingy, politician demeanor, to even Nicholas Brody’s attempts at redemption, all collided together in a crescendo during last night’s finale as soon as Javadi’s men captured Brody. From that moment, when we discovered that Lockhart had already taken over the CIA and given up Carrie and Brody’s location to make sure that Javadi’s cover remained strong and in tact, causing Carrie to desperately plea with Javadi about how she needed to get Brody out, all the emotional resonance that I had been missing from Homeland this season (a show that I thought had been nailing all the espionage/spy elements but had been falling short on character moments) returned, as we saw that the seeds that had been planted all season finally came to fruition in a beautiful and tragic way.

And to me, that’s what has always elevated Homeland over just a generic spy thriller: the series’ ability to weave together the romantic and the tragic and provide palpable emotional connections to characters that are enduring unimaginable situations. While the show has sometimes too heavily relied on the Brody/Carrie romance in the past and tried to justify certain questionable storylines or character decisions because of the power of the pair’s connection, Homeland got this relationship right a lot more of the time than it got it wrong, and in a way, the two of them, Brody and Carrie, and their falling in love with each other, truly represents what Homeland is as a television show. It’s a series that doesn’t always make the most sense and, at times, can make plenty of questionable decisions. However, Homeland is also a show that mixes together the psychological with the spiritual, the violent with the compassionate, and, most of all, the intensely thrilling with the incredibly romantic, and just like its protagonist, Carrie Mathison, more often than not, that usually ends up making it pretty darn brilliant.

Other thoughts:

Everything between Brody and Carrie in the cabin outside of Tehran was some amazing stuff, almost as good as the pair’s moments together in “The Weekend” and “Q&A.” However, the best exchange between Carrie and Brody during the entire episode was the phone call they shared while Brody sat in the prison cell, waiting to be executed. They both knew that their situation was hopeless, but that didn’t stop Carrie from wanting him in her life for just a few seconds longer.

All of the acting in this episode was, as usual, phenomenal, but two moments in particular stood out to me. First, Mandy Patinkin’s beautiful, fatherly delivery of “I’m so sorry” to Carrie as he confirmed to her that there was no way to save Brody. That was just so well done. And, second, Damian Lewis’s look of despair and fear as Brody was publically hanged may have been his best acting from this episode. While Brody had made peace with the fact that he was going to die, it was tragic to see Brody, the once strong survivor, look so helpless and scared, and all that was shown through Lewis’s eyes.

While I completely believe that Homeland needed to kill of Brody if it wanted to move forward as a series and even though I am excited to see where season four goes next fall, I will greatly miss Damian Lewis’s presence on this show, specifically his scenes with Claire Danes. The two of them just have this indescribable chemistry that energizes even the simplest of scenes between them, and it will definitely be missed during future episodes of Homeland.

If need be, I think that this episode could have served as a nearly perfect series finale for Homeland. If the show had ended after Carrie drew Brody’s star on the wall with the sharpie, I would have been okay with that.

One moment during this episode that did not work as well for me was Carrie’s scene with her family, as they discussed her pregnancy. So much of that dialogue felt very written, and for me, it did not transition well from the page to the screen.

So Fara and Quinn are definitely going to be on Carrie’s team in Istanbul if Homeland decides to actually go there next season, right? And how long until Saul is brought back into the fold? As nice as it is to see the Bearded Berenson relaxing, you know that he can’t stay out of the game for too long.

“I believe one of the reasons I was put on this earth was for our paths to cross. And I know how crazy that sounds.” –Carrie to Brody.

“Everyone sees [Brody] through your eyes now.”—Javadi to Carrie. I was really surprised and impressed with the sympathy that Javadi showed in his conversation with Carrie. You could tell that even though the man is a murdering psychopath, there was some part of him that really felt for Carrie in that moment.

Thank you to everyone who has read or commented on these reviews all season long. It’s been a rocky season for Homeland and my first time ever writing about the show, but I’ve really enjoyed every week that I’ve gotten to analyze and discuss it with others. Hopefully, I’ll have the chance to talk to you all about it again next fall.

What did everyone else think of the season finale of Homeland? Will you miss Brody?

[Photo via Michael Loccisano/Getty]