Homeland, ‘The Star’ review: Crowning achievement

“I fucked it up. And it would be really sad to see you do the same thing.”

Homeland finished its eventful third season, one that brought its viewers on a journey across the Americas and then across the world, with one of the strongest episodes of the year. Well before Carrie draws a star on that wall in Langley, ‘The Star’ brings peace of mind to the Homeland viewers.

We realize that we’re Brody. What’s happened up to this point has left us scrambling at what comes next, because we never believed we’d live to see this day. 

Sgt. Nicolas Brody (played by Damian Lewis) dies in ‘The Star,’ but that’s looking at it the wrong way. If Alex Gansa, credited episode cowriter Meredith Stiehm and the rest of the Homeland team have decided to carry on with the “suicide” part of the Brody suicide-mission that’s disguised as a ridiculous Saul play to bring regime change to Iran, it’s Carrie who’s left behind. Dana, Chris, Mike, Jessica have all long ago finished mourning the loss of their father, friend and husband respectively. Meanwhile, us viewers have already killed Brody more than one time—not two, not three, not four, not five, not six…times so that by the time he dies, his death doesn’t really bother us. In ‘One Last Time,’ Brody told Carrie that he’d be coming back. And in a way he does, as his flame and still unborn daughter are the only two to survive him.

In the end, it’s not the death but the manner with which it happens that’s so difficult. As a crane elevates him to his final resting place, everyone around Carrie is screaming and celebrating. And Carrie is all alone.

(Let’s pause, here, to consider how problematic it is that Brody even made it there. That Danesh Akbari’s secretary took the longest coffee break in history right on cue for Brody to kill for a second time the second-in-command of a country (i.e. after Vice-President Walden in season 2). That he somehow managed to escape the Iranian Revolutionary Guard palace unscathed. That he then managed to meet Carrie in Parc X, having apparently studied plans of downtown Tehran while he was actively abandoning his country and his dreams of escaping during those six days following that first botched assassination, all the while being public enemy Number One. (One. One. One. One!) But leaps in logic are nothing new for Homeland, and they’re not even that problematic. After all, this is a show where Saul just about bowls 300 even as he expressly aims for the gutters during the second half of this third season.)

More than anything, that’s been the theme of the season. Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) is alone. She was all alone in  knowing Brody innocent after the Langley bombing and she has proven this season that there was no bridge that she wouldn’t burn in her mission to clear Brody’s name. It was always all about him, Javadi tells her, and this means once Brody would be gone, that Carrie would be alone.

My guts, too, says that she’ll stay this way in season 4. Whether she gives her daughter up for adoption, or to her father, Carrie will not raise her child. It’s bad to see a mother try to raise a child for whom “all I feel is scared,” no love, sure, but do you know what’s worse? Having that child in the first place. Carrie will be alone next season on Homeland, and she’ll still be dead to me too!

One person whom she will not be dead to is, against all odds, Senator Andrew Lockhart (played by Tracy Letts). Somehow someway, despite having a front row seat to the carnage of the Carrie express, Lockhart has decided to forgive all the trespassing, all the blatant and insulting insubordination, to make Carrie the youngest station chief in the history of the agency. As a great poet of our time taught us all in The Wire, “Deserve got nuthin’ to do with it.” (By the way, I still can’t shake the fact that it’s a bad Akon song that’s playing in Snoop’s car in that season 5 clip of The Bible. To this day, it still cracks me up.)

Not long ago in ‘The Yoga Play,’ Lockhart was sitting inside that cabin and taking aim at ducks. He had the best opportunity yet to put one out of its misery, to sell Carrie “down that river” for good this time, but he got confused. Instead of a lame duck, Lockhart saw a bald eagle. (Really though, someone will have to explain to me what is it about the position of CIA director that turns an otherwise perfectly fine man into someone who’s completely oblivious to what’s unfolding right in front of his eyes. Sending Carrie to Istanbul for one of the prime postings of the agency? Come on now.)

‘The Star’ leaves the show with a crater much, much bigger and deeper than the one after the explosion that killed 219 Americans at Langley—that of the demise of Brody and Carrie’s love story. It’s a chance for the show to reinvent itself, the same way that the first crater was. Let’s hope, though, that Showtime does go through with it this time, not merely punting away the opportunity. Let’s hope that the next place in the Homeland journey is one where Carrie gives up the #RobotCarrie nonsense. Let’s hope that it’s a place where Saul Berenson (played by Mandy Patinkin) indeed stays away from his one true love, the CIA, now that she’s committed the ultimate sin of giving up on him.

And most of all, let’s hope that it’s place where Majid Javadi (played by Shaun Toub) is in charge in the same way that he is seemingly now in charge of Iran’s foreign policy. Javadi has proven to be the best addition to the Homeland roster, first being the only one able to trade wits and barbs with the Beard when the Beard was still at the head of the CIA in ‘Gerontion,’ and then being the only one able to crack the Carrie code with this finale. Let’s hope that the fourth season is a place where Javadi can be the one looking for cabins, trees and forest.