Entertainment Magazine

Review #3890: Homeland 2.12: “The Choice”

Posted on the 28 December 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Alex Gansa and Meredith Steihm
Directed by Michael Cuesta

Maybe it’s because I’ve watched many of the TV shows that Joss Whedon used to make, but I was genuinely worried for both Carrie and Brody during the first half of this season finale. On Whedon’s shows, whenever there are romantic pairings, there is a small period of bliss followed by something terrible that rips the pairing apart. The season two finale of “Homeland” does follow that course but takes its time getting to the point where Carrie and Brody separate.

Review #3890: Homeland 2.12: “The Choice”

The episode stands at a lull for much of this first half, almost as if both Carrie and Brody are feeling each other out and take their first tentative steps towards consummating the relationship. Given the various trials and hardships both have gone through this season, the relationship doesn’t make much sense, and Carrie is told as such by Saul. It isn’t until a big event occurs midway through the finale that there’s a sense of the show propelling itself towards something. Carrie makes the true “choice” of her life, and it’s one that alters the landscape of the series in significant ways.

Carrie has never been the model of stability throughout the run of this series so that does factor into her decision to go forward with a romantic relationship with Brody. They start out the episode by going back to the cabin where their relationship took a step forward. All of their history and baggage can’t be escaped, partly because Brody and Carrie remind each other of what happened during “The Weekend”. I have to wonder if that was intentional by either the writers or the characters themselves. Both have so much respective baggage and lingering issues that they seem afraid to take the next step.

Granted, these are very big issues, with Carrie’s lifelong coping with her bipolar disorder and Brody being a suspected terrorist. So it’s frankly remarkable that they both got to the cabin relatively intact physically, if not emotionally. The threat of Quinn’s assassination order remains during their entire stay at the cabin, but there never seemed to be much tension there. Even when Quinn had Brody in his sights with the opportunity to take the shot, I got the sense that Brody was going to live to the end of the episode.

And the intuition proved correct as Quinn goes back to Estes and threatens him instead of carrying out his orders to kill Brody. Instead, Quinn identifies Estes as the “bad guy” that he is supposed to kill under any circumstances. It had been readily apparent in the past few episodes that Estes had overstepped his bounds as a CIA deputy director and that something needs to be done about that. The scene between Quinn and Estes may have seemed out of place in the finale (especially since we don’t hear from Quinn for the rest of the episode after that), but it does add to the sneaky suspicion that Quinn had something to do with the bomb in Brody’s car. Was Estes meant to be the target? That has to be investigated in the future.

Carrie makes her initial choice to throw her lot in with Brody. I would presume that after Walden’s memorial service at the CIA, they would likely leave the country together. Brody had effectively said goodbye to his marriage and his kids before the service. Carrie defied Saul to pick Brody over being a station chief for the CIA. She essentially turned her back on a promising CIA career for a man who had recently been an admitted terrorist. It’s a crazy idea, but as the memorial service goes on, it looks like they are both going through with the relationship. Then Brody’s car explodes.

The explosion kills everyone at the memorial service. Estes, Walden’s widow and son. Immediately, Brody is the prime suspect. The impassioned plea that he had no idea this was going to happen, that this was Nazir’s way to strike at the CIA after he’s dead, only convinces Carrie. They both go on the run, using Carrie’s contacts on the outside to disappear to the Canadian border. Meanwhile, Saul goes through a brilliant arc in the remainder of the episode. The explosion made him the senior officer left in charge of the investigation. He gets a call from his ex-wife, a person on the other side of the world whom he hasn’t seen in more than a year.

The nature of the show and the previous major work of the show’s creators (“24″) did make me think for a moment that Saul was the mole who planted the bomb. But he recites the Kaddish prayer at the very end so that doesn’t seem likely. Carrie has to make the painful decision to let Brody go, and the fact that she will spend a lot of time in the show’s future trying to clear his name is a great direction for the show to go. She will definitely need Saul’s help in this mess, and the odds are stacked against them.

Nazir’s plan was brilliant in a way: He sacrificed himself so that the CIA let their guard down, then publicly attacked a critical part of the US war on terrorism, inflicting mass casualties. On top of that, his network releases the video Brody made last season to properly frame his actions, making Carrie’s job to clear his name all that much more difficult. That keeps with the regular attack pattern of terrorists like Nazir. It absolves Nazir of some of the odd plot mechanics that bogged down the previous episodes.

I was floored by the moment the tape was released around the world. Even as Dana tried to convince the CIA investigator that her father was innocent, she had to question that thought a little bit when she saw the video. The show did well to magnify the incriminating piece of evidence from a small set of eyes (Estes, Carrie, and Saul) to the whole world seeing that evidence. It will be hard for the show to top that, as well as much of what has occurred in the previous two seasons.

The explosion tore apart the romantic relationship between Carrie and Brody and re-calibrates its focus towards the professional relationship between Carrie and Saul. That’s something I look forward to watching in the future seasons of the show. I was unsure of what to make of the romance that was developing between the two main characters. Their interaction was better when there were still secrets to hold over each other. Brody essentially severing ties with his family means that there isn’t really a place for them in the show’s overall narrative.

I hope there isn’t a smoothing over of the process in rebuilding the CIA after the attack. It’s going to be a slow and arduous process; one that Saul and Carrie should have an integral part in. I would like to see how that’s going to work. The danger is that I fear the show will try to top the events of the past two seasons. If it goes with a smaller focus and builds up to something big, it would keep the satisfaction level up. Carrie and Saul don’t have the full trust of each other that they had before. Her relationship with Brody fractured that. There was genuine concern when Saul thought Carrie was killed in the explosion, and genuine relief from seeing her return.

Also lingering out there is what Quinn will do after he finds out about the explosion and its details. He might have factored into the moments before the explosion occurred, like perhaps how the car moved from the parking lot to right in front of the building. There are questions to be answered at a later time. The finale wrapped up many of the storylines that had been developing through the season well enough. There was a bit too much time spent on the Carrie-Brody romance, something that I wasn’t very attached to from the beginning, but the fast-moving second half of the episode more than made up for that. The show is still in very good shape for the future.

Score: 8/10

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