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Homeland makes "The Choice"

Homeland poster

Written by : published Sunday 23rd December 2012

Homeland -"The Choice"
Grade: 99%

Showtime's Homeland handled their second season finale, "The Choice," which aired last Sunday, in a very unexpected way. The action of the season completes in the penultimate installment, giving lots of time for characters-driven moments in the final episode. Until the big shocker rocks everything, and reignites the intensity.

Homeland is about terrorism, yes, but it's even more about the characters, and their relationships with one another. Obviously, a driving dynamic of the show is the one between Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis). They have flitted around each other since day one, alternating between enemy and lover. As season two draws to a close, though, they are ready to admit their love and commit to a long-term relationship, with Carrie even willing to give up a promotion to be with him.

Is this professionally inappropriate? Absolutely. Is their relationships dysfunction? That's an understatement. But they have seen each other at their worst, or at least are aware of the flaws, and they still want to be together. Carrie understands that the reason Brody almost becomes a terrorist. Brody knows about Carrie's mental illness. Neither is perfect, but both want to be happy. And they can be themselves together, which is a huge check in the plus column.

Do they have a chance of making it work? I think so. Brody's marriage to Jessica (Morena Baccarin) is over because he came home a different man, and the bond between them has been broken. Trust is gone, and he can no longer relate to her as he once did. The same issues won't arise with Carrie, so barring anything completely unexpected and soul-altering (again), Brody's next gal may be the one for him for the foreseeable future.

Except, Carrie doesn't realize that Brody murdered Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan). It isn't an act likely to come to light, and most viewers will probably find Brody's actions forgivable and understandable, given Walden's sleazy nature. But should this ever be known to the public, it could pose a major stumbling block between Carrie and Brody, if Carrie thinks he has crossed a line.

It's interesting that Brody goes to Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) in "The Choice" and basically tells Mike that he can have Brody's family. There are a lot of reasons that go into this, but I think it isn't just a selfish out so that Brody can be with Carrie. In fact, it's a bit selfless. Brody has demonstrated that he cares about his kids very deeply, and by sending them Mike, who was already taking care of the clan before Brody comes home, he knows that Jessica and their children will be in good hands.

Of course, one assumes that Brody still expects to be involved where the kids are concerned, and the events at the end of "The Choice" make that pretty difficult. But we'll get to that in a minute.

Brody has a different and unique relationship with each of his kids. He seems more open about his affection for Chris (Jackson Pace), but he does want to stay good with Dana (Morgan Saylor), too. I think Dana scares Brody just a bit because she challenges him, she's intelligent, and she doesn't take things at face value. She is the one that learns some of Brody's secrets.

I hope that, even at the conclusion of "The Choice," Dana can continue to see her father for who he is, and put the pieces together. She could definitely be his window back to the world. Which could complicate things with Carrie, dividing Brody's attention.

Continuing to speak of relationships, while Brody has a family, the closest person in Carrie's life to her is Saul (Mandy Patinkin). Yes, her dad and sister are around, but we don't see them much. Saul is a father figure, but like Brody's love ones, doesn't quite know Carrie as well as he thinks he is. Saul is very upset with her when he learns she plans to put Brody ahead of her career. But this is a typical parent reaction; Carrie and Saul aren't equals, and his concerns come from a place of love. Which means, no matter how much he may disagree with the choices Carrie makes, they probably still have a good connection, and he will continue to watch out for her.

So a little over two-thirds of the way through "The Choice," everyone is on the right path, and a happy ending is in sight. We even see Abu Nazir's (Navid Negahban) body thrown into the ocean, leaving no doubt that the terrorist is dead.

The thing is, though, terrorism is not about one person. Sure, there is a face to many organizations, but the mission of the group is driven by a passion and surety of belief. Nazir recruits others who feel as he does, and just because Nazir is taken out doesn't mean that one of his followers isn't prepared to step in and take his place. Which is why Brody's car is used as a bomb to kill hundreds at Walden's funeral.

The difference between Brody's car bomb and the rest of Homeland's action thus far is, there is little doubt this time that Brody is innocent. He already got his revenge on Walden, and while most of those killed are CIA, and so not "innocent civilians" in his eyes, it seems pretty clear that Brody is well past the point of attempting something like this. Maybe this is naive, taking his surprise at face value, and trusting Carrie's judgment of him (she is usually right), but I don't think so. I really don't think Brody did this. Though I concede that I, like most people, are almost always one twist away from being proven wrong.

The genius of the "The Choice" is that is fairly neatly ties up a number of arcs, but also sets up the action to continue threads already begun. The characters have theorized about a CIA mole before. Now, it looks like there definitely is one, and the mole's choice to use Brody as a scapegoat keeps all of the main characters involved in the drama.

I love 24 dearly, but Homeland is the next step in the evolution of that show's story and themes, making it a more intelligent version. 24 rebooted constantly; Homeland realized a full reboot isn't quite so necessary.

Carrie's decision not to run away with Brody is a sad one. She has good reason, intent on clearing his name, something she can do much more effectively working on the inside. It may be hard to convince Saul believe her this time, but he's a lot more sympathetic to Carrie than David Estes (David Harewood), who died in the blast, would be. Plus, Saul knows he doesn't listen to Carrie at his own risk, because her instincts are sharp. The seeds are sown for a very interesting plot here.

One last musing about "The Choice:" I absolutely loved the scene where Quinn (Rupert Friend) threatens David Estes. Quinn has been a fascinating character this season, and I really, really hope he returns full-time next year. Whether he goes on the hunt for Brody, or the mole, or both, he lends a driving force to the series that works incredibly well. Plus, he has issues himself that have not been explored. He seems like a character who should be there to stay, enriching the world, giving Carrie a friend and peer, and possibly even a second love interest, should Brody stay away too long, or be painted too dark for Carrie's taste.

So many good moments, and nary a single complaint that I can think of. "The Choice" is an amazing piece of television, and a real shining example of what a smart series can be, and can do. Awesome work.

Homeland has been renewed for a third season and will return to Showtime next fall.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter!

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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