'Homeland' Finale Review: Anti-American to the Core
**The following contains a ton of spoilers**
The first season of the Showtime series “Homeland” mercifully came to an end last night. I say "mercifully" because, while I will never get the hours I invested in the series back, I will not be subjecting myself to season two.
To recap so far, the series follows CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) tracking recovered U.S. Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who she suspects of being a sleeper terrorist who was turned by his captor, al Qaeda commander Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban).
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The CIA is also tracking Brody’s former sniper team partner Tom Walker (Chris Chalk), who is also suspected of working for Nazir. Agent Mathison has been placed on administrative leave for removing classified documents from Langley and because her superiors learned she suffers from bipolar disorder, which precludes her from having security clearance.
The episode opens with Brody filming his martyr video, in which he explains why he is about to take such drastic action. In previous episodes we learned that while Brody was being held captive he became close to Abu Nazir’s youngest son, Issa, who was subsequently killed by a U.S. drone strike that hit his school.
In the video, Brody states “As a Marine, I swore an oath to defend the United States of America against enemies, both foreign and domestic. My action today is against such domestic enemies. The Vice President and members of his national security team, who I know to be liars and war criminals, responsible for atrocities they were never held accountable for. This is about justice for 82 children whose deaths were never acknowledged and whose murder is a stain on the soul of this nation.”
Agent Mathison’s superior Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) has decided to continue her work in her absence and discovers a redacted document about the drone strike, the only document that can be linked to such an event since the Vice President thought he had destroyed the paper trail. Saul brings the document first to the attention of CIA Deputy Director David Estes (David Harewood), who tells him to do his job and not worry about it. Saul is supposed to be working an event with Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) at the State Department.
Brody is preparing to carry out his attack at this event while meeting with Vice President Walden and various security officials, where it is to be announced he is running for Congress and Walden is running for President. The plan is for Brody to detonate an explosive vest that will kill the Vice President and all others present after being whisked into a secure bunker when Brody’s former partner, Walker, attempts to assassinate Walden. Walker purposely misses Walden.
The assassination attempt is simply a distraction to help get Brody and his vest past the metal detectors and into the bunker in the frenzy that follows. First, Brody’s vest malfunctions. After fixing the vest in the restroom, Brody receives a phone call from his daughter and is unable to complete his mission, apparently chickening out.
The next day, Saul brings the drone strike document to the attention of Vice President Walden, who is not interested in talking about it and tells Saul to “let it lie.” Instead, Saul decides to blackmail Walden using interrogation tapes that were supposedly destroyed. Saul describes what is on the tapes as “Coercion. Cruelty. Outright torture. Makes for unhappy viewing. You gave the orders, William. You gave the orders.”
We then see Estes showing Saul a videotape of the briefing room the day of the drone strike. In the video we see Estes tell Walden “That’s a school, sir.” Walden coldly replies “Don’t cloud the issue. If Abu Nazir is taking refuge among children, he’s putting them at risk, not us. It’s our joint opinion the potential collateral damage falls within current matrix parameters.” Saul is appalled, states “Somebody actually came up with that language?” and closes his eyes in disgust.
Saul and Estes get into a discussion about why the video was kept secret. When Saul threatens to contact the New York Times, Estes tells him “No you’re not. You know why? Because telling the world we killed 82 kids on purpose would endanger every one of your case operatives in the field. Not to mention every American soldier on the ground. You would, essentially, be handing the enemy the biggest recruitment tool since Abu Ghraib.”
Brody decides to meet with Walker, who wants to kill Brody for panicking and not completing the mission. Brody tells Walker, who has Abu Nazir on speakerphone, that he decided it was best not to complete the mission because now he is in the unique position of being close to the next President of the United States and “At the very least, I’d be able to influence policy at the highest levels” as a member of Congress. Nazir is on board with the idea, stating “Why kill a man when you can kill an idea?” Nazir then has Brody kill Walker as a demonstration of his commitment.
The final scene shows former agent Mathison undergoing electro-convulsive therapy to help treat her psychosis. Saul had tried to talk her out of the treatment due to the side effects, which includes memory loss. As Carrie is being put under anesthesia, she remembers Brody screaming the name of Nazir’s son in his sleep. She puts the pieces together, stating “Issa, Nazir’s son. Brody knew him,” right before falling asleep and undergoing the procedure.
Will she remember? Will it matter, since she’s essentially no longer a CIA agent? Will Brody be elected to congress and bring America down from within? I guess someone will have to let me know, since I won’t be watching. I have no interest in continuing to watch a show that paints Islamic terrorists as the good guys and the Vice President and CIA as the bad guys. A show that claims our CIA commits “outright torture.” A show that says we kill kids on purpose. A show in which the only person who understands the terrorist’s plans is literally psychotic.
I knew I risked disappointment when the series began. I know I wasn’t alone in hoping the outcome would be different this time. Looking back, I think the biggest clue to a potential letdown was the fact that lefty critics liked the show. Still, I held out hope that a plot twist would turn things around. It never happened.
Even bringing "24" executive producer Joel Surnow into the mix wouldn’t bring me back for season two.