‘Homeland’ Season 3 Finale Review

Published 8 months ago by

Damian Lewis and Claire Danes in Homeland Season 3 Episode 12 Homeland Season 3 Finale Review

[This is a review of Homeland season 3, episode 12. There will be SPOILERS.]

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No matter how this season of Homeland is thought of as a whole, the one thing that cannot be taken away from season 3 is that, despite all the rough starts and sometimes meandering plot threads that failed to take the audience to a place as dramatically astonishing as seasons past (or were simply started and forgotten during the course of the season), the show managed to craft a rather potent finale that, for a brief moment, helped make the inevitable and the necessary (i.e., overdue) narrative progression of the series feel like a breath of fresh air – even when it was obscuring some of the more contrived aspects the program had adopted in order to keep this storyline going.

Ultimately, as an episode, ‘The Star’ was about seeing Nicholas Brody achieve some semblance of redemption for everything he’d done, which, in this case meant he had to “redeem one murder by committing another.” Aside from sounding like an assessment of Homeland season 3 as a whole, that meant first watching while he scrambled to cover up his assassination of Akbari in such a way that no one would notice until he was out of the building. We’ve seen this kind of thrilling panic from Brody before; only this time it carried with it a certain sense of self-awareness from the character, as if the words from the doctor in Caracas about him being like a “cockroach” were reverberating in his head the whole time. And to its credit, the episode even manages to broach the subject during the brief interlude where it seemed possible that he and Carrie might actually get out of Iran alive and together.

Of course, that would not be the case, as the only thing more fleeting than their reunion is the time between Brody’s capture and his execution. Before it all goes down, Javadi explains to Carrie that Brody’s pending death was not something that could ever be stopped, but he hopes that she might seek some solace in the fact that everyone (Saul, Dar, and maybe Lockhart?) now sees Brody the way she saw him, and he essentially tells her that would have to be enough. There’s some suggestion that Javadi might mean “everyone” in a larger sense, but since ‘The Star’ never goes into any great detail of how the people of Iran or America perceive this dramatic turn of events, it’s unclear just how far that new vision of Brody really goes – and that question ties in to just what effect the idea of his redemption actually has on the overall storyline. At any rate, the implication is that this idea is going to have to be enough to get Carrie through to the next chapter in her life.

Damian Lewis in Homeland Season 3 Episode 12 Homeland Season 3 Finale Review

And that’s a sacrifice ‘The Star’ is willing to make in order to get to where it’s going. Of course, there’re a lot of details that are ostensibly glossed over so that Brody can be publicly executed so swiftly; but since the series had been boiled down to the idea that it was all about the true love between these star-crossed lovers, cutting to the chase in that regard was not entirely unexpected. And to their credit, writers Alex Gansa and returning writer Meredith Stiehm (who had left to co-run FX’s The Bridge) manage to generate a great deal of power from the unpleasant spectacle of Brody’s death – which in turn earned some heft from his earlier statement regarding his cockroach-like qualities and by simply stating: “I want it to be over.”

There was still power in his death because Brody was a great character, but the thing is: whatever anyone in the audience felt for him, his continued presence meant that Homeland was always going to be stuck going around the same increasingly smaller narrative circle it had been for these three seasons. As we saw in season 3, what was once a far-reaching program about the limits and efficacy of the intelligence community in an increasingly paranoid and vulnerable global landscape, had largely turned into a doomed romance with a gradually narrowing vision for its characters and the sometimes-terrifying setting they found themselves in. But it’s more than just the narrative that was bound to suffer; Carrie had become frustratingly myopic in her quest to be with Brody because, as she told him moments before he was dragged away, “I believe one of the reasons I was put on this Earth was for our paths to cross.” That statement makes it clear how Brody would carry on as the impetus for almost every inclination (good or bad – but mostly bad) Carrie would continue to have down the line should he continue to be an active part of the story. While the idea that he and Carrie could go on on and raise an inexplicably healthy daughter is certainly idyllic and charming, it should at least be plain to see how that would not only bad for both their characters, but bad for the series’ continuation as well.

Claire Danes in Homeland Season 3 Episode 12 Homeland Season 3 Finale Review

In the end, the Brody storyline had clearly run its course, and as an extension of that, if the show was to have a future, it would have to position Carrie somewhere other than between being not great at her job and being consistently insubordinate before questions of how she still had a job at all became impossible to overcome. In that sense, the fact that Carrie had to be shot in order to keep her from completely ruining an ongoing investigation makes one wonder how it is that, four months later, Lockhart, a guy who seemed flabbergasted at her continued presence in the CIA, would be asking her to take on a high-profile assignment in Istanbul, while Saul was essentially tossed out into the private sector. But again, these leaps in logic are sacrifices that apparently needed to be made to give the show its new starting point.

Overall, this feels like the new beginning Homeland seemed poised to undertake at the end of season 2, but with a more definitive closure for the character who needed it most. From that standpoint, ‘The Star’ certainly succeeded in sending Damian Lewis off in an emotionally affecting manner, which will be a great way to remember his contribution to the series. The question now is whether or not the idea of a new beginning will be the shot in the arm that sets the Homeland on a more compelling path, especially after a season that so often felt like it was struggling just to find any path at all. But with a major storyline now resolved, there’s definitely hope for and curiosity about the future .

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Homeland will return for season 4 in the fall of 2014 on Showtime.

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  1. The curious thing is this. I often bemoan a lack of continuation in TV shows season to season. ‘Boardwalk Empire’ was especially guilty of this (I was delighted strands have been retained for season 5). But with ‘Homeland’ it was the opposite. Had we gone into season four with some ludicrous scenario that led to Carrie and Brody being reunited permanently I would’ve left the show completely. All threat would’ve been removed completely, all potential of consequence laughable. So it needed the reset. It needed this strand to be concluded and in this sense the first 40 minutes was everything it should’ve been and (as I suggest in last week’s review) everything I hoped it would be.

    The flaw then was a lack of foresight. Really, this should’ve been the end of season 2 with the majority of the plot points from the hotel reveal onwards briefing the 9 episodes that followed during the course of the second season. It is a common problem of course with more shows than just ‘Homeland’. Filler is prevalent in order to drag out the commercial side of the projects.

    Where we go from here is what excites me. It was curious that the epilogue had an end of the show feel and that can only be purposeful. Indeed, it was like a summery of the entire season. Good ideas buried under inconsistent motivations and unconvincing narrative tricks. But with the news that Brody’s family will be practically absent from the new season lends well to the theory that we, and indeed the writers, can move on without baggage and without weight.

    Of course, season 4 could just repeat itself, find a way to bring Saul and Carrie back together and cycle through another repetition. But it all feels too purposeful this. Fingers crossed they know what they are doing.

    • As a fan of the show who has seen and enjoyed most of it so far I really detest the character of the lady CIA agent. She is not believable and too unreasonable. She treats the something as big as the CIA as her granpa’s back yard. she shouts like a brat to whomever she wants to. she makes every damn professional and high profile thing personal and she manages to make the audience to disagree with her all the time. even if when she does the right thing you wouldn’t like to sympathize with her! the acting is overly exaggerated. the same goes with the facial expressions and the body language.
      being bipolar is one thing but this lady is acting up even when she is sane. i wonder how doesnt the director see that!

  2. Gave up on this show when it jumped the super crazy CIA agent in season 2 .Would love to see cable pick up and continue Lewis’s much better short lived series LIFE.

    • Funnily enough, the Universal Channel in the UK (same channel that gives us Sleepy Hollow and Bates Motel) aired Life for the first time ever a few months back. I only caught 30 minutes of one episode but it looked good.

      They also repeat Band Of Brothers on TCM fairly regularly and he was good in that too. Pretty funny seeing Lewis, Fassbender, Hardy and McAvoy pre-fame all acting as WWII soldiers.

    • Life was a really good series!

  3. The first half of season 3 felt like a reset. The writers made it clear that, after the season 2 finale, Carrie and Saul would go catch other bad guys. That Brody wouldn’t necessarily be an issue anymore. Out of sight, out of script. (And maybe use him again down the line.)
    What they did, was indeed present another bad guy this year, but dragged Brody into the equasion as well. And provided yet another ending of his character. It felt too much. Been there, done that, almost. Of course, without Brody gone – forever – he’d be lingering over the season, people would keep wondering and asking where he was, but to just throw him into the mix as a ‘marine with a final mission’, that’s a bit easy, and unworthy of the rich character he was.

    Of course, there were powerful moments this season. Season 2 was a brilliant exception – loaded with cliffhangers and superb acting – and we shouldn’t have expected lightning to strike twice in the same place like that, but season 3 appeared bleak in comparison.

  4. Oh man, I was sooo frustrated. Later Saturday night I had this episode spoiled for me. While on another site and reading comments about another show somebody wrote “Brody dies by public hanging.” for no reason other than being the worst type of troll…
    Credit to the writers & director to this episode though because even though I knew what was going to happen I was still on the edge of my seat.
    I’m excited for season 4 now and am happy they have essentially have pressed the reset button. The Brody character had run it’s course and there wasn’t any real way to continue his arc.
    I don’t believe for a second that Saul is gone though. He may not be in every episode in the beginning but at some point Carrie will need him.
    Maybe as a babysitter? ;)

    • Homeland’s US-based Facebook page did that, to some controversy.

      They posted a status on Thursday night saying “RIP Nicholas Brody2 and some UK fans were angry because the episode didn’t air until Sunday December 22nd (last night) and then you had American viewers saying “It can’t be a spoiler if it aired last week”, being completely inconsiderate to the rest of the world.

    • I agree that Brody’s story had run its course but surely the whole point of Homeland in the brilliant first season was the return of a US marine after eight years imprisonment, the effect on him and his family of those missing years and the question of whether he had been ‘turned’ or not. The series should have ended on a high with the bomb being detonated and it would have then have been remembered as one of the truly great tv experiences but instead limped on in every decreasing circles until there was nowhere to go but to kill Brody off. Very very disappointed in the truly awful ending.

  5. Like what has been said, this episode felt like a “series finale” rather than a season finale. They’ve essentially created for themselves a clean slate after the struggle that this season was in the first half.

    With Brody on the show, it felt like season 1 told a great story and season 2 and 3 were just retelling the same story in new and creative ways. It’s entertaining- to a point- and it was a storyline defined the show, so I see how difficult it was to let it go, but I’m excited that they took the leap and closed that chapter of the series.

    Season 4 should come out swinging again from the beginning.

  6. Quite frankly the only reason I watched the show was because of Brody. I have like the guy since the B movie dream catcher. I may be in the minority but I hated Clare Danes character. She was always crying and acting irrationally.

    I really left the show after season 2 because they initially said Brody wouldn’t be around in season 3 much. I watch the second to last episode and now that I read this I see no reason to watch the show ever again.

    The only other character remotely compelling is Saul.

    • “I hated Clare Danes character. She was always crying and acting irrationally.”

      You must’ve missed the times during seasons 1 and 2 where they explained she had bipolar disorder then.

  7. I would like to see them take on the Chinese in the next season! Less Carrie, more Quinn.

  8. How long was Carrie’s pregnancy?

    We know Brodie and Carrie last saw each other (and had any chance to conceive) the day of/after the CIA bombing, right?

    We know that at the time of Brodie’s hanging, she was four months pregnant, right?

    We know that at the anniversary of the CIA bombing, Carrie still hadn’t given birth, right?

    Anyone?

    • @Ash:

      8 months.

      After the hanging, there was a “4 Months Later” caption for the time jump to the memorial.

      Not sure that the memorial was an “anniversary” because that would have put it at 1 year.

    • You know the answer. It wasn’t Brody, it was the one-night stand guy. (r was it two nights. Didn’t she steal some money from him.

      • No, it was Brody.

        Season 3 opened 3 months after the bombing, season 4 took place over the course of a month then the “4 months later” card putting her at 8-8 1/2 months.

  9. Imagine MASH if Hawkeye had been killed after the third season. Or Madmen is Don Draper had been killed after the third season. This will go down as the biggest writing mistake in the history of television. Did Damian Lewis ask for too much money? A good show is not just about the script, it’s about the actors. There were at least 10,000 ways the script could have been written that would have kept Brody in the cast. I don’t even understand the comments about how this is what had to happen to save the show. I agree with the other review that said Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin (spelling?) are great, but the show was Damian Lewis. I would bet my house that Homeland is toast. No matter what the script does from here, no matter what actors they add – it will make no difference. Viewership will drop off, ratings will plummet, and this show will be canceled after the fourth season. I’d bet my house on it. I won’t be watching it any further, and I’m certain I’m not the only one. What a disaster.

    • If a good show relies on actors to keep its audience then it’s not a good show, is it?

      24 proved it by killing off popular characters for the greater benefit of the story. The Game Of Thrones show (and A Song Of Ice And Fire books it’s based on) also prove that.

      If they’d kept Lewis on board for another season, it would’ve showed that the writers had nothing more to tell and were just keeping him for the sake of ratings in the hope that his presence would prop up a weak story.

      As someone forced to watch MASH growing up, I can tell you that the show dragged on 10 years longer than it should have, purely because they kept Hawkeye and didn’t have very many good stories or jokes. They relied on the popularity of one character and sheep kept watching because of the lack of many other channels at the time.

      If you leave because of a lack of Brody in season 4 then that says more about you than the writers.

  10. Very interesting ending, I hadn’t expected them to do that but it makes sense if they want to refresh the narrative.

    They could even make Season 4 with all new characters, make Quinn the lead (ala Jack Bauer) and have Saul and Carrie just do cameos.

    What are the odds that Brody is still alive and the public execution was a ruse? Just kidding.

    I hope next season we get more CIA ops stuff.

  11. Personally, I was so glad to see Brody hung. I was also hoping that Carrie would die too. Preferrly slowly and painfully. Indeed Saul’s wife would also be a nice character to kill off too – or at least send her to Israel or Mumbai with her lover.
    Homeland 4 with the bi-polar Carrie, a single Mom, a CIA big-wig and in Istanbul to boot, Geez- that sounds great.

  12. Guys as per Wikipedia…there is another episode left… as titled “the end”

  13. Rubbish without Brody it has nothing. The Brody/Carrie thing was the only thing that made Homeland work.

    Despite the set up for next season, I don’t really see a reason to care about Javadi/Carrie. I do not see a reason to watch the 4th season at all.

  14. Portrayal of mentally ill Matheson: https://www.academia.edu/5343616/The_portrayal_of_Homelands_Carrie_Matheson

  15. Guys

    I completely agree with the writers decision to end Brodey. You have to be realistic here..

    Where it goes now will be interesting!!

    The concept behind the show back in season 1, was what drew in the crowds and made the show so exciting!! The idea now, of following a lone Carrie and maybe even seeing the return of Saul, doesn’t seem so appealing, However I will give it a go…

  16. Just saw it (one of the very rare programs on UK TV to be shown so soon after the US air date), and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was emotional, shocking and was just excellent TV. The opening sequence leaving the building was suitably tense, and where it’d possibly go for the rest of the finale was beyond me.
    The final moments between Brody and Carrie were to be cherished, and I was so shocked and devastated when he died. I didn’t think the writers would go through with it, but they did. The moment it was stated Brody would be hung, I began to hope he would be rescued or stopped, or that the rope would be shot by a rifle. No. I will severely miss him.
    The episode tied up things nicely, and had an air of closure around it, especially with Carrie, the person who wanted Brody to be remembered so badly, gave him a star on the wall (although I bet someone might notice and rub it off :( ). It’s disappointing season 4 will happen, as this season just seems like the best way to wrap up the whole thing in a bow. I bet it’ll declne in quality, and I’ll end up saying “they should’ve ended Homeland on s3, and not continued”.

    What does the future hold for Homeland? I’ll still wait and see. Oh, and the music over the end credits-there are no words to describe it.

    • Oh, I forgot to add: I wish the 2 leads had had 1 last kiss between each other-maybe in the hide-out?-it’s so sad in retrospect.

    • “(one of the very rare programs on UK TV to be shown so soon after the US air date)”

      Not really.

      We got Homeland a week after the US. Compare that to The Walking Dead (7 days later), Arrow (5 days later), Sleepy Hollow (6 days later) and both Game Of Thrones and Mad Men (1 day after the US air date). I also believe we get Agents Of SHIELD 3 days after the US. There are others but can’t recall them off the top of my head at the moment.

      As you said though, the hanging was a shock and the fact that it went to commercial immediately following it helped. I then checked how long was left of the episode before fast forwarding through the ads and was surprised to find another 20 minutes remaining, which wrapped things up nicely.

      I have a feeling season 4 will show Lockhart’s incompetence and irrational nature and they’ll be demanding that Saul returns, with him playing a game with the CIA as revenge for kicking him out and destroying his plan to get both Carrie and Brody out together.

      We also still don’t know who the mole is that helped bomb the CIA. I know someone who is still convinced Saul has something to do with it but who knows, it’ll be interesting to find out regardless.

      I can see season 4 being the final season, ending with Carrie either retired and acting as a full time mother or maybe in a top role in the CIA under Saul, depending where they go with those characters.

      • I was referring to terrestrial channels (bbc one to channel 5). I watch The Walking Dead when it’s on 5, and s3 ended up being dumped at 10pm on 5 star every sunday night : P

        • Crazy.

          My brother watches it on Fox every Friday, meaning he couldn’t record The Blacklist that night because they’re on at the same time. Fox airs it 5 days after the US, how long between US and 5* air dates?

          And yeah, Channel 4 show Agents Of SHIELD 3 days after it airs in the US on ABC. Not that I still watch it.

          • It was on 5 on saturday 29th june, then moved to 5 star after that.
            I gave up on Agents of SHIELD almost midway through episode 2. It tries too hard to be canon, and I found the constant MCU references grating.

  17. the series ended (without Brody)

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