Episode Title: "Marine One"
Story by: Alex Gansa & Howard Gordon
Teleplay by: Alex Gansa & Chip Johannessen
Director: Michael Cuesta
Previously on "Homeland":
In uniform, former P.O.W. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) tapes a message for his family and the world, presumably to be shown after a successful implementation of Abu Nazir's (Navid Negahban) plan. Brody rejects the idea that he was brainwashed and he brands his target, Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) as a domestic threat to the United States' future. At the home of recently disgraced CIA analyst, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes); her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) arrives and speaks to Carrie's sister, Maggie (Amy Hargreaves).
While Carrie is bedridden with severe depression, Saul tells Maggie that Carrie's career in the CIA is over. When Saul looks in on Carrie, she can't understand why Brody revealed their relationship to her boss, David Estes (David Harewood). To his horror, Saul realizes that Carrie is in love with Brody. Late at night in a park, Brody hides his recorded message in a prearranged spot and makes a chalk mark. Elsewhere, the other turned P.O.W., Sgt. Tom Walker (Chris Chalk) hides in the backseat of a car that belongs to an old woman who lives near the next day's scheduled event for V.P. Walden.
Once they get past the heightened security measures, Walker reveals his presence and takes the old woman hostage before converting her apartment into a sniper's nest. During the night, Brody's daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor) catches him praying in the garage and he admits that he converted to Islam. Brody calmly explains this to Dana and gets her to keep it a secret from his wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin). Back the CIA, Saul begins to that something has been deliberately hidden from Carrie's timeline of Ab Nazir's activities. David tells Saul to forget about it, but David then calls the Vice President and warns him that Saul is getting too close to something that they tried to hide.
At Brody's home, Dana notices more and more of her father's odd behavior, and she unknowingly speaks to Brody through a bedroom door as he puts on the suicide vest. And when Dana later goes to hug Brody, he noticeably keeps her from embracing him. Now being watched by her friend, Virgil (David Marciano); Carrie convinces him to go for a drive with her. Virgil gets suspicious when they end up near the Vice President's upcoming event and Carrie confesses that she believes that Walker is simply a distraction for Abu Nazir to lure his targets into the same room.
Brody seems nervous when he arrives and moments later, Walker begins firing near Walden, killing Elizabeth Gaines (Linda Purl) in the process. Walden, Brody and the other V.I.P. guests are ushered into the building without a proper security check. As everyone is hustled into an underground bunker, Brody anxiously awaits Walden before attempting to activate the suicide vest. But Brody is alarmed when the vest doesn't work. Outside, Carrie calls Saul with her new theory that Brody is Abu Nazir's inside man, but Saul thinks that Carrie is unstable and sends security to restrain her.
Realizing that Saul has ordered her to be detained, Carrie gets Virgil to run interference while she races to Brody's home. She catches Dana alone in the house and says that Brody has been turned and that only she can stop her father. Dana doesn't believe Carrie and she calls the police shortly before Jessica and Chris (Jackson Pace) arrive home. Carrie frantically tries to repeat her story, but no one believes her and everyone thinks that she is crazy. While the cops arrest Carrie, Dana makes contact with her father and she unknowingly convinces him not to activate the vest.
The next day, Jessica talks to Brody about pressing charges against Carrie and he says that he'll deal with it. Released to her sister's care, Carrie is confronted by Brody, who insists that he isn't a terrorist and that she stay away from him and his family. Carrie tearfully agrees and asks her sister to commit her a mental hospital. Back at the CIA, Saul blackmails Walden into learning that an air strike he and David ordered led to the death of Abu Nazir's son, Issa. Later, Brody tries to retrieve the recording he made prior to the attack, but it is gone… with only a chalk mark left by Walker.
Retrieving his gun before meeting with Walker, Brody tells Abu Nazir (via phone) that the vest malfunctioned and he proposes that he use his newfound closeness to the Vice President to influence policy. Nazir agrees and tells Brody to kill Walker to prove his loyalty; which he does. Brody then goes home and kisses his wife. Two days later, Saul bursts into the mental hospital and he tries to prevent Carrie from undergoing shock therapy. But Carrie insists that she needs to try something and she can't go on in her current mental state.
Saul tells Carrie that she was right about the gap in Abu Nazir's history and the death of his son, Issa. Sometime later, the doctors give Carrie anesthesia and she thinks back to her happier times with Brody. She remembers being in bed with him as he called out Issa's name and in her last conscious moments, Carrie begs her sister to not let her forget that Brody knew Nazir's son. However, no one understood what Carrie said before the electro shocks begin.
I have a strong suspicion that the producers of "Homeland" were largely making up the story as they went along. But it's hard to argue with that when it comes together so well at the end.
The lone narrative weakness of this episode is the implied memory loss that Carrie suffered at the end just as she remembered the key detail that connected Brody to Abu Nazir. And yes, that is a pretty cheap way to keep that story going. The episode could have certainly been just as powerful without that last minute addition.
Back when I reviewed the first episode of "Homeland," I was rooting for the show to give us something different. At that point, it seemed like Carrie was crazy and that her theories about Brody could just be the product of her mental state. What we've come to understand about the series since then is that Carrie really is crazy, but she's also right. Unfortunately for Carrie, not even she knows just how right she really was.
The reason that Claire Danes is getting a lot of critical acclaim for this role is that we've seen Carrie shatter over the course of the season. By the end, Carrie is actually apologizing to the P.O.W. turned terrorist, whom she loves! It's a screwed up situation, but not quite as sick as Debra romantically loving her brother on "Dexter." It was clear from the start of the series that Carrie wasn't exactly stable, but Danes has made her deterioration compelling and sympathetic. In a way, it feels like the producers have written themselves into a corner. After everything that happened this season, it's hard to imagine Carrie ever getting another job in the intelligence community.
Damian Lewis also owned the episode as Brody, particularly during his panicked attempts to get his suicide vest working again. However, it was the smaller moments that were more telling. For the last two episodes, Brody has been trying to get his family ready for life without him as he subtly said goodbye. And yet when Jessica practically runs out the door to get Chris to his karate match, it almost destroys Brody that he couldn't kiss his wife one more time. He even pushes Dana away from hugging him out of fear that she'll feel his suicide vest.
Brody may have dismissed the notion that he was brainwashed by Abu Nazir, but he places more value on exacting revenge for Issa than he does on spending his life with his family. The scene between Dana and Brody as she tearfully gets him to come home was beautifully executed in that we see Brody come around just through his facial expressions. There was also some strong work there by Morgan Saylor as Dana. I loved that Dana didn't buy anything Carrie was saying, but just the idea of her father being a terrorist was horrifying to her. If anyone else stumbles upon Brody's secret next season, it's likely to be Dana. The groundwork has already been laid out.
"Marine One" also had some great performances from the supporting cast, including the usual excellence of Mandy Patinkin as Saul; who could probably carry the show by himself if he had to. David Marciano's Virgil also showed some unexpected heart by backing Carrie when she needed it in addition to offering a hilarious response to a question about her sanity.
"Homeland" isn't perfect, but the season finale was exciting and well executed. This could be Showtime's next flagship drama. And while it's difficult to see how the series could be extended to five or seven years, I'm looking forward to seeing these characters again in the second season.
Crave Online Rating: 9 out of 10.