After a series of shark-jumping, hand-wringing (and hand-stabbing) 'Homeland' returned in its final episode to the personal, not the political, on which the first series, and its Israeli ancestor, were founded. And it saved its best trick for last.
Previously on 'Homeland'... the second series had done its best to depart from this USP - with the dialogue fairy gone walkabout (Brody's "my only plan right now is to be a good person" was a new low this week), the ghost of '24' everywhere to be seen, and the writers becoming ever more liable to slip on their own banana skins as they followed Brody down his ideological rabbit hole.
Brody - just wants to "be a good person" from now on, but may have to come up with a plan B
Here we were with Brody and Carrie... back in the cabin, but this time all crinkling firelight and no secrets. The wife knew and didn't mind, Carrie looked spectacularly gentle, and Brody was smiling, not sweating, for once. There was only firewood to collect, and big glasses of red to glug, along with lots of cringey, cheesy talk. I know, I know, it was necessary plot-wise, but it was like watching your parents slow-dancing. Ewww. Please make it stop.
Oh good, it seemed someone had heard me, with Quin getting ready to pop our hero/villain, under the direction of his CIA boss, even while his prey kneeled on his prayer mat. Except, it seemed this flint-hearted, efficient, supreme killer, couldn't quite do it, because, as he calmly informed Estes, "I'm a guy who kills bad guys." Where WAS the script editor? Estes was absolutely right. This was "squishy bullsh*t".
Our only salvation was Saul, busy incarcerated and stroking his beard in disbelief, picking up Carrie's far-fetched baton with all this assassination-going-down talk, until he was despatched to the burial-at-sea of Nazir. His nod to funeral tradition was priceless - a check tweed cap that looked like he was in a rush to place a bet on the 2.15 at Newmarket.
Meanwhile, over at the OTHER funeral, Nazir had the last laugh as a bomb ripped through the heart of the CIA, courtesy of Brody's strangely-parked car. And Carrie was back to her paranoid best, gun in shaking hand, with Brody protesting his innocence and... isn't this where we came in?
Carrie - time to trust her instincts?
Except, Nazir, or I should probably say the writers, had a final ace to play - the video, that long-buried confession by Brody from Series One, which the writers either cleverly planned all along just like Nazir, or had a lucky, happy day when they remembered it was still in the drawer. Either way, it made Carrie and Brody fugitives with just cause, until Brody was suddenly on his own.
Because Carrie may be a fool in love, but she's not completely stupid. With Saul looking out for you, why would you opt to go on the road with a suspected international terrorist? "We could be happy," said Brody. But how? Without his enigmatic potential for evil, her paranoia, his wife, her demons, what WOULD they have to talk about? There are only so many croissants you can eat, and brown paper bags to carry out to the lake.
Carrie and the only man she can really rely on...
Personally, I would never leave Saul's side. He's the only unflappable one, professional, loyal, constantly mopping up the mess, and full of love and grief, exhibited with his whispering gratitude for his wife's return. Never mind Danes and Lewis, Mandy Patinkin should win every award going.
This series has experienced some serious stumbles along the way, but the final furlong was a fine return to the personal dilemmas and consequences at its original Israeli heart. And will keep me tuning in for Series 3, if only to see how Carrie explains her temporary absence away... "the bomb went off, killing everyone around me, and I just sort of went for a walk, officer. But I'm here now... smiley face."