In theory, it shouldn’t be a bad thing that, with season 2 reaching its final two episodes, it’s not immediately clear where Homeland is going to leave things ahead of season 3. Great drama, whether it’s on television or in film, should never be predictable and easy to figure out, but the most important thing is that you believe in what the writers are trying to achieve, and that you can understand the choices they make in order to reach a satisfying conclusion.
And that’s why Homeland is currently somewhat problematic. With Abu Nazir in the country and Brody now working with the CIA, you’d expect the second half of the season to build up to the conclusion of this story. It’s not that Homeland has to stop with the death or capture of Abu Nazir and something similar with Nicholas Brody, but it doesn’t seem realistic that these plots could continue into a third season. But episode 10, ‘Broken Hearts’, complicates things further, with some elements of it stretching the credibility of the show to its limit, while keeping how it is going to end a total mystery.
So let’s start with the most problematic part of this episode; Nazir’s capture of Carrie and what he has Brody do for him in order to save her. Abu Nazir being able to get into the US without anyone noticing is a part of the show that could be pulled apart if you really wanted to, but at that point I was enjoying the show enough (not that I’ve stopped enjoying it now) that it didn’t concern me. You can pick holes in many aspects of Homeland if you really want to, but things like that really don’t matter if you buy into the show and what it is trying to do. So in that sense, him being in America and then breaking cover in order to kidnap Carrie is not something that I have a problem with. The thwarted attack in last week’s episode seems to have been merely a decoy; a way for Nazir to confirm whether or not Brody was still on his side (if the attack was stopped in any way, Nazir would know for certain that Brody had fed the CIA information), so now that he knows the truth, he goes for the one person he knows he can get to that will have an effect on Brody.
The problem comes with what he asks Brody to do in order to save Carrie. What he wants is a number that will allow him to remotely control the pacemaker in Vice President Walden’s chest. Which, I have to say, really is a ‘Wait, what?’ moment. Abu Nazir’s raison d’être has been to pull off large, devastating terrorist attacks on American soil, but now he’s just settling for killing the VP by messing with his pacemaker? Even when you’re happy to let Homeland do things that don’t always feel realistic or believable, this is a stretch. To think about it purely from the American side of things, what effect does Walden dying of a heart attack really have? Yes, he’s running for president, but he isn’t president yet, and would anyone actually believe Nazir if he put a video up on YouTube taking credit for Walden’s death by remotely tampering with his pacemaker?
While that is troublesome on its own, there’s more to come from this side of things as not only does Brody manage to convince Nazir to just let Carrie go (and he just lets her run away from where he’s holding her, rather than transport her somewhere random and dump her) before giving him the number, he also taunts Walden as he’s dying, letting him know that he’s responsible and why he hates everything Walden stands for. To an extent I can see why Brody does that, because when he tells Walden that he wants to quit politics for his family, Walden reacts badly, telling Brody that those reasons are unacceptable, so there is some justification for what he does. But it is still a tough thing to swallow.
Elsewhere in the episode, we’ve got the further adventures of Dana and Finn, as Finn meets with Dana hoping she can forgive him and start their relationship from scratch. I know a lot of people haven’t enjoyed that whole sub-plot, but while I didn’t mind it, this does feel unnecessary, as there really isn’t anywhere left for it to go.
What does feel necessary is Saul’s investigations of Quinn, and he meets with Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) to find out who Quinn really is and why Estes put him on his team. Saul questions Estes about Quinn, wondering if he’s there to silence Brody when he’s no longer needed, to prevent the truth about the drone strike that killed Issa from ever becoming public knowledge. Estes reacts angrily to this, and by the end of the episode, he’s reacted further by taking Saul away for questioning when he wants to go out to find Carrie. It’s not clear what Estes is hoping to achieve; does he just want Saul temporarily out of the picture, or to remove him altogether?
It’s another strand of the story that makes the final two episodes of Homeland such a mystery. There are definitely parts of the show that feel wrong, or stand out as potential problems for it in the short and long-term, but I’m still willing to give Homeland the benefit of the doubt. Up to this point, it’s been a great show, and although I’m concerned with where it’s going next, I’m still sticking with it. But the final two episodes are certainly going to have a huge impact on the show’s credibility.
Let’s hope Homeland gets it right.