Sunday, December 23, 2012

Showtime Homeland “The Choice” #212 Picking Up the Pieces

by Catherine Giordano

Showtime’s Homeland doesn’t just surprise, it shocks. The second season finale, episode 12, entitled “The Choice” wraps things up nicely, sets us up for a happily ever after, and then everything explodes—literally—there’s an explosion.

I’ve entitled my review “Picking Up the Pieces.”  After the ordeal of hunting down the terrorist, Nazir, Brody, Carrie, Saul, Estes, Quinn, Jess, Mike, Dana—everyone is picking up the pieces and getting their lives together and then, Bam!, it all explodes in their faces.  

Brody and Carrie have retreated to their romantic love-nest cabin in the woods. They are talking about having a life together. Brody has split with his wife Jess, and even had a little chat with Mike (Jess’s former lover) asking Mike to “take care of her.”

Brody says he wants to be with Carrie. “I’m all in,” he tells her. Carrie has to make a choice, though. She wants to have a career with the CIA and she wants to have a life with Brody also. She can’t have both. She will have to make a choice.

Quinn was supposed to assassinate Brody, and he has him in his rifle sights a number of times. However, he doesn’t shoot. He tells Estes he doesn’t want to do it with Carrie present, he will do it when Brody is alone. Later, Quinn shows up in Estes’ home, surprising Estes when Estes finds him sitting quietly in a chair.  Quinn says he is not going to kill Brody because Carrie loves him so much that it would destroy her and because with Walden dead, Brody is no longer a threat to national security. The only reason to kill him now, Quinn tells Estes,, is to cover up your role in the madrassa bombing.  Quinn won’t do it, and if anything happens to Brody, he, Quinn, will be back with his rifle to settle things with Estes.

Estes backs down and decides not to have Brody killed. This means that he no longer has to discredit Saul, so he ends his investigation of Saul and his plans to ruin Saul’s career. He explains it to Saul by saying, “I’m giving an old guy a break.”  Saul is sent off to oversee the burial of Nazir at sea.

Saul wants Carrie to return to the CIA and become a station chief. (Saul can arrange this because his has some leverage with Estes because of the madrassa bombing and Estes’ aborted plot against him.)  Accepting this post will mean that Carrie must end her relationship with Brody. Carrie is conflicted. She tells Saul that she wants “a more balanced life.”  Saul becomes angry, accusing Carrie of throwing away her life.

The ever sullen Dana, Brody’s teenaged daughter, has put a few pieces together for herself.  When Brody returns to the family home to get his things, Dana surprises him.  She asks him about the day that Carrie showed up at the house raving that Brody was about to conduct a suicide bombing. She says that she now believes that he was going to do “those things.”  Brody says, “I didn’t do it and I wouldn’t do it now.”  He says he was screwed up, but he’s better now. 

Brody and Carrie both attend a memorial service for Walden being held at the CIA because before becoming Vice President, Walden was the director of the CIA. (I gather that this memorial was just for CIA personnel and was being held in addition to a state funeral.)

Brody and Carrie are seated in different parts of the room, but they keep catching one another’s eye. Finally, while Estes is speaking, they signal to each other with their eyes and a nod of their heads that they will leave the service and meet in the hall. They then rush off to an office in the building.  Carrie tells Brody that she has decided to leave the CIA and make her life with him.

Just then Brody looks out the window and notices that his car is parked next to the room where the memorial service is being held.  He says, “I didn’t park my car there.” Carrie turns to look, and KABOOM, major explosion. They are both knocked to the floor unconscious.

Carrie comes to first, and grabs a gun from a desk drawer. She points it at Brody.  Brody comes to and faces an angry Carrie who believes that he caused the explosion.  Brody begs Carrie to listen to him. He tells her that he had nothing to do with i.  He puts the pieces together for her. “This must have been Nazir’s plan all along,” he tells Carrie.  The Navy base bombing was the “head fake,” Rona and her team were sacrificed, even Nazir’s death became a part of the plan–it got us to let our guard down.  This is the “It-was-all-a-long-con” moment of the week.

 (One small question:  Does letting your guard down mean abandoning all security measures? Wouldn’t an unattended car parked all alone next to the building draw suspicion?)  

Carrie believes Brody. She has to believe him or her whole world falls to pieces. She and Brody sneak away and go to Carrie’s storage unit where she retrieves a getaway bag that she had secretly prepeaed because –“you never know.” There’s a fake passport for her and lots of cash. They leave together to find the forger who did her passport so they can get one for Brody. Their plan is to go to Canada.

When they reach the Canadian border, Carrie says that the best way to enter is through back roads in a forest. Brody realizes that Carrie has decided not to go with him. She confirms that he is right about this. She must return to DC to clear his name. Brody puts the backpack on his back, and with one last kiss, he marches off into the woods.

Brody’s suicide tape that was intended to be released back in season one when he was supposed to blow up the Vice President and a room full of other government officials with a suicide vest is being played on the TV. (Carrie found this tape when she searched the home of a terrorist in Beirut, but there could have been copies.)  A statement from the terrorist group is also playing on TV.
The death toll is horrendous—about 200 dead and only 27 survivors. Saul is the highest ranking survivor and is now in charge. He will have to debrief the president.

Saul is walking around in a dazed state at the scene—Estes is dead as are so many of his friends and colleagues. Saul has been searching for Carrie. Carrie’s body has not been found, but he has come to believe that he she is dead. The only good news for Saul is that his wife, Mira, has decided to return home from her job abroad—she had left Saul—because of this tragedy. So Saul may get to pick up the pieces of his marriage.

Saul has moved to a vast room where the dead are laid out in neat rows. He is walking up and down the rows mournfully muttering the Kiddish (the Jewish prayer for the dead). Carrie enters the room and calls his name, but he doesn’t hear her at first.   She calls again, he turns around and sees her, and relief floods over his face. 

Now, we, the audience must put together the pieces. Did Brody have a hand in the plan to blow up the CIA? I don’t think so. If he had known about the bomb, he would have been totally gone way earlier—right after the memorial started. And he wouldn’t have left Carrie alive to give out his name on his phony passport. But remember, in this episode we are shown that Brody still holds to his conversion to Islam. (He prays at lake by the cabin, but only when Carrie is not there.) But, the biggest question (after the question about whether or not Brody is innocent) is will Carrie be suspected as an accomplice?  Will Carrie be able to prove Brody’s innocence?  How will Carrie’s bi-polar disease influence the plot?  (Remember, at the beginning of the season, it was brought out that she was not being properly medicated.) 

What new shockers do the show-runners have in store for us for next season?

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This picture of Brody at Muslim prayer is from