Dec. 17, 2012 at 9:29 AM ET
It's been the question that's loomed over the entire second season of "Homeland": Would the show dispatch one of its two lead characters (Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis) or continue to have him dodge fire for another 12 episodes?
[Warning: Spoilers "Homeland's" season finale follow.]
The answer was not apparent early in the hour, despite the teasers' many insinuations that someone significant would be getting embalmed, draped in military whites and chucked off of a naval ship. Quinn (Rupert Friend), the black ops agent with Brody in his sights about ten minutes into the finale, had a change of heart.
He confronted Estes (David Harewood) in his bedroom and called him out on nearly two seasons' worth of shady doings. Saying he was only charged with dispatching "bad guys," Quinn advised Estes to leave Brody alone or he'd end up back in that house one night to more grim consequences.
As for Carrie (Claire Danes), who was once again playing house with Brody, she had to make the episode's titular "Choice." Her work aiding the killing of Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) brought in an official offer to be station chief at the C.I.A., reinstating the job she lost at the end of season one -- but only at the cost of cutting her ties with Brody.
The decision caused a rift between Carrie and Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who was sprung from his Langley detention once Quinn got his hooks into Estes.
During Walden and Nazir's respective funerals -- the latter was the one at sea, seen during the previews -- Carrie and Brody retire to an office where she decides that she chooses him over her career... until Brody's car explodes in front of Walden's funeral service, killing Estes, Walden's family and several hundred other people in the process.
Carrie pulls a gun on Brody, but after he promises Nazir was behind the whole thing, they make a run for it. (She had a secret shed, flush with cash and fake IDs, tucked away the whole time.) Fortunately for them, they're also presumed dead -- especially since the response team soon figured out that the bomb was in his car. And that tape about him admitting to (not) blowing up last season emerges on national news, courtesy of a terrorism group, re-purposed to claim responsibility for the latest turn of events. Brody is alive, but he is officially outed.
With Estes dead, Saul is the ranking officer in the counter-terrorism unit, assuming his protégé is dead (or really off the rails). In a comforting turn of events, Saul's absentee wife says that she's coming back.
Brody's family, officially knocked off their pedestal, await the nation's scorn as news trucks start rolling up in front of their house.
As for Brody, publicly vilified and off the grid, he gets sent on his merry way. Carrie made her choice, and it's not really that surprising -- and more true to her character than anything she's done the last few episodes. She tells Brody her cause is calling her and that she'll clear his name. The word "love" is mentioned several times. Tears are shed.
Thankfully, Saul does not suffer in the dark for long. In the last shot, in a room of hundreds of dead bodies, Carrie calls his name -- and he smiles, much like she did at the end of the season premiere.
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