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TV Weekend: Ask What Your Homeland Can Do for You

There's a sense that, depending which choices Homeland makes, the season finale could redeem or disgrace itself utterly.What do you need Homeland to do?

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We’re approaching the end of Homeland‘s second season, and suspicions have been raised and loyalties shaken. I’m not talking about the characters on the show right now, but about the show’s fans.

There’s been a rising criticism of the show over that past few episodes—though it doesn’t seem to have hurt the ratings—that the CIA thriller has gotten unbelievable even by its own standards, that people are acting out of character, that there had better be a good explanation—there has got to be a good explanation!—for incongruities like Abu Nazir’s bizarre catch-and-release of Carrie to pressure Brody. (The weirdness for me started around when that helicopter spirited Brody away, but your mileage may vary.)

There are plenty of theories out there as to what will happen in this last episode: who will or won’t die, who has been telling the truth and who will be revealed to have been playing a different game all along. I will not weigh in on those, because I have no damn idea.

Also, I’m not sure I need the plot to resolve one way or another to be happy with this season. What I do need is for Homeland to be a show that doesn’t constantly screw with us simply for the sake of screwing us, that it doesn’t succumb to the twist-itis of so many serials wherein it feels it needs to “change the game” approximately ten times a season.

I don’t mind a far-fetched Homeland: as I said earlier this year, are we really arguing that a show about a POW brainwashed into becoming a terrorist and elected to Congress has gotten implausible? But the strength of Homeland for me, and why I named it one of my best shows of the year, is that it shows us people reacting in psychologically realistic ways to unrealistic scenarios. When the plot starts driving the characters, that’s when the show loses me.

That said, as fellow critic Andy Greenwald wrote recently on Twitter, rarely has there been such a sense of binary possibilities for a season finale: that depending which choices Homeland makes, it could redeem or disgrace itself utterly. So while we wait, if you want to share your theories of what you think Homeland will do, by all means go ahead. But more important to me: what do you need Homeland to do?