After last episode’s tizzy of events, this week’s “Homeland” had a lot to make up for. The bad news is that it didn’t quite repair the damage that Nazir’s ridiculous plot wrought on this season. It will be nigh impossible to do that in the season finale, now that almost all of the tension the narrative had built was wrung out of “Homeland” so swiftly and surely.
The good news is that this week’s episode was not only quieter, it contained some outright gorgeous moments. The first half of the episode may have been all "24"-style bluster and zing, but the last half hour was devastating. Carrie’s fevered hunt for Nazir resulted in a fruitless, pointless, but mercifully brief mole hunt. Her interrogation of Roya proved that not all of Nazir’s operatives are susceptible to Carrie’s unhinged charms. And Estes’ aggressive polygraph of Saul provided enough fodder for Estes to keep Saul out of the way of future operations.
Then, finally, after a surprisingly thrilling hunt through the underground tunnels of the warehouse where Nazir held Carrie, the team finds him. And that’s it. The world’s most dangerous terrorist has been apprehended. He’s been shot in the head. It’s a ridiculous plot twist, sure, but it also leads to some tremendous, much subtler scenes than “Homeland” has doled out in a while. You can see Carrie’s face go from shock to triumph to a sort of purposelessness. Nazir is dead. She ruined her life tracking him down. And now the chase is done. What’s left for her?
Coming out of the safe house with his family, Nick Brody has similar difficulties. He’s through as a vice presidential nominee, unless, by some other ridiculous plot twist he gets elected suddenly. His whole congressional term was to serve or thwart Nazir. And now he’s back to where he started: a former soldier, haunted by his experiences.
The breakup between Brody and Jess is one of the most beautiful scenes on television this year. It’s so loaded with sadness, with resignation. Jess and Brody fought earnestly to keep together. It was more than for looks, it was to rebuild the life they had before Brody was spirited away into Nazir’s lair. It’s a note of real tragedy that the death of the man who was keeping them apart ultimately finished the couple for good.
Brody shows up at Carrie’s doorstep, exhausted. If they’ve ever had a fighting chance of being together, it’s now. But without the intrigue, the terrorist network that propelled them together, how much do they actually have in common? The safe bet is that next week’s finale will test their bond pretty strongly. After all, the episode ends with Quinn lurking in the car outside. Nazir is gone, but Brody’s fight is just beginning.