Photo: Didier Baverel/SHOWTIME
This review contains spoilers.
“I’m just so f*cking sad.”
That’s Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) at the end of Season 3 of Homeland. The queen of the Cry Face hasn’t had much chance to display her facial talents this season, which will come as no surprise to those who have tried to keep up with the show’s twisting, turning, dive-bombing story. But Episode 12, The Star, is a fantastic, satisfying conclusion to an uneven run.
After Season 1 and Season 2, you might expect another big finish involving explosions or shocks, but Season 3 is a largely predictable affair – and in all the right ways. Things begin at a sprint, as Brody finds himself needing to get out of Iran after deciding to go through with the assassination of General Akbari. Following Season 1’s is-he-or-isn’t-he and Season 2’s will-he-or-won’t-he premise, the simplicity of a can-he-or-can’t-he set-up is a nice change of pace, allowing for tension without trying to explore Nicholas Brody’s ambiguous character any further. Because, let’s face it, there’s nothing left to explore.
That finality leaves Brody with only one destination this week. Reunited with Carrie after a (suspiciously easy) exit from the Iranian embassy, she drops the baby bombshell we’ve been waiting for. From that moment on, it’s obvious that there’s no happy ending in store for this couple.
Indeed, the writers waste no time in following through with the consequences: a hanging encounter with a crane in front of an angry crowd. Damian Lewis lives his final moments with a steely acceptance – one of the few things in the show he hasn’t been in two minds over.
After dealing with Brody, though, the spotlight is firmly on two people: Carrie and Saul. Both struggling to make the difficult calls in favour of the mission, the pair have been the real stars of this season – and Homeland knows it. It’s no coincidence that Brody’s family were phased out to focus on Javadi and the mission in Iran. Homeland, you sense, has a longer shelf life than its Brody-based story; after using the original Israeli show as a springboard, Showtime’s remake has established spies who are fun to watch doing just that: spying. The only obstacle was the dead weight of Damian Lewis’ character round their neck. After all its awkward juggling of several plot lines, The Star reveals Season 3 to be an exercise in moving on. That literally becomes the case when a bold “four months later” title card appears halfway through.
Mandy Patinkin steals every scene as the gruffly loyal Saul, whose beard is still stuck in its old, moral ways, even as Senator Lockhart ushers in a new era for the CIA. When he isn’t on screen, his legacy of successful talks with Iran does the same thing. Will he return for Season 4? Or will he go rogue on the streets of New York? As long as he keeps his beard, it doesn’t matter – although we’d quite like to see Berensen, a spin-off starring Saul as a private eye with a hat to match the chin hair.
Claire Danes, though, remains the heart of the show, fighting for the agency to remember Brody while hating the idea of raising his child. Some quality time with her own parents offers a striking slowdown in pace – but that time to breathe is exactly what Carrie needs: a mature, restrained resolution to a bonkers, absurd show. Whatever Homeland lacks in plausibility, the best parts make up for it with emotional believability. As Carrie pauses and reflects on a potential move to Istanbul, that quiet catharsis lets Claire Danes deliver what she does so well: all of the events of the last three seasons summed up in one huge Cry Face.
“I’m just so f*cking sad,” she sobs. For the first time, though, The Star sees Homeland end with a positive sense of hope for the future. It leaves you thinking four words that seemed impossible two months ago: bring on Season 4.
Homeland Season 3 is available watch on Netflix UK as part of a £7.49 monthly subscription.
Where can I watch Homeland Season 3 on pay-per-view VOD?