Prologue: This is a LONG, RAW, and EMOTIONAL piece that I had written on December 21, 2013, almost a week after Nicholas Brody died on Homeland. Just because it is long, raw and emotional, I thought I would not share it on Fan Fun with Damian Lewis. On the other hand, this is the first ever piece that I wrote about Nicholas Brody — so, in some way, this is the piece that started it all! So, why not share it with fans that love that amazing character as much as I do? Just so you know, I am at a much better place now 🙂 That said I still can’t let him go…
Almost a full week has passed since the season finale, and I cannot believe that I am still heartbroken. But I am.
Do not underestimate the power of TV. Good TV shows are like good books. Each episode is a chapter and you just look forward to the next chapter, and form bonds with characters as you go and you have thoughts and sometimes hopes for them. OK, I admit it, everyone doesn’t, but I have 🙂 I love fiction, I cannot think of a life without fiction, I believe that fiction enriches life in so many different ways that good readers/viewers live many more lives than the non-readers/non-viewers.
Thus, even though some may find this unusual or funny or crazy or just very ME (you know who you are), I feel that I have to get this out of my system and move on… This is really not about being a drama queen, not at all; it is just about feelings…
The season finale was a shock. I was not able to watch that horrific scene, and my husband says I definitely cried more than Carrie did. He’s probably right.
Nicholas Brody needed redemption. I need closure.
Brody has been one of the most complex characters I have ever seen on TV and my favorite character ever. His “otherness”, his isolation, his confusion, his vulnerability, his pain, his love for his daughter, his faith, his survival, and the chemistry between him and Carrie were all fascinating to me. He was not a character one would love at first sight, but he grew on you—all thanks to brilliant Damian Lewis who received an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his fantastic portrayal of Brody.
Yes, I am pretty biased about Brody and his storyline in the show; however, as I think more and more about the season finale, I just see that the producers pulled a cheap trick on us. Alex Gansa said the other day that this whole season built into the two last episodes—to Brody’s death. I find this unacceptable. They kept Brody alive at the end of season 2 (Quinn did not get to kill him) so that we would look forward to Season 3. Then, yeah, they kept him alive, they did not even give him a lot of screen time (which was apparently a test on the audience, but more on this later), and killed him at the end of Season 3.
That scene in the safe house was powerful. When Carrie told Brody about the baby, he said “this is the only fucking sane thing left to hold on to.” It was almost a domestic argument between the two of them, like a married couple in their living room. Brody wanted that. I wanted to see more of that relationship. I know a lot of people wanted more of that, too—just check out the Homeland page on Facebook, and you will see. It was the writers that wanted that to be over.
I am well aware that there are arguments about Homeland not being a show about relationships, but a show about the CIA. Yes, it is a show about the CIA, but like every other serious thing in life, it is fundamentally about human relations. Homeland is not 24. What makes it great (and not 24) is its complex characters with exciting, interesting and compelling relationships: Carrie and Brody, Brody and Jess, Carrie and Saul, Brody and Abu Nazir, Carrie and Quinn, Brody and Dana, Saul and Myra, Saul and Dar Adal, Dar Adal and Quinn, and all other possible combinations. Killing the most interesting relationship here is not a great idea in my opinion.
There could be many reasons for the way they chose to write Season 3. One particular reason I can think of is the fact that the show lost two of its most brilliant writers last year. Henry Bromell passed away early in the year, and Meredith Stiehm left for “The Bridge” (she came back to co-write the season finale with Gansa and she is staying for Season 4). And, with these big losses in the writers’ room, maybe they could just come up with this “let’s build Season 3 just to kill Brody at the end” idea. I have to say I do not buy the “Brody had no place to go, he had to die” argument at all. This is a fictional character on a TV show, and the limit lies with the writers’ imagination. They just chose the easy way out here.
Another possibility is that they just sucked up to the critics. As someone that has probably read all the “recaps” week after week, I have known for a long time that the critics wanted Brody dead. Honestly, I just think that the critics sometimes love to play God, and say this or that character should die and probably get some satisfaction when those characters die in the show. And they did it again and again for Homeland. I just think that TV shows must not be tailored to make critics happy. This is entertainment after all. And, honestly, I don’t think keeping Brody alive would have been the only unrealistic part of the show. Homeland could actually get ridiculous at times, and it is much more fun when it is exactly that. Yes, Season 1 was incredible, and Season 2 was a bit over the top, but I liked Season 2 much better just because it was a bit over the top—it was so much fun!
There is some weird understanding nowadays that a TV show is good if it kills one of its main characters. Why? I don’t think this is the right measure of being a good show. It should be all about character development, creative storyline, and acting. Think about Breaking Bad, which I also like very much (and which all critics love): I am still watching Season 5 so I don’t know who is dead and alive by the end of the series, but so far the only (sort of) major character that died is not that central to the show. And I have not heard anyone asking about why Jesse Pinkman is still alive in Season 4? Jessie is alive because he’s central to the show, and he’s very popular with the viewers. Or, think about Mad Men, another fantastic TV show. Yes, I know that the genre is different but still I just do not think Jon Hamm (Don) or Elisabeth Moss (Peggy) ever thought they’d be dead, at least before the series finale.
I understand that they knew all along that Brody would not last long in the show. But then they either set the storyline wrong from the get-go, or they could not figure in the “Damian Lewis” factor: He is terrific. Lewis made this very damaged man a painfully believable character that Brody grew on the viewers over time and, lo and behold, many, many viewers started to root for him. Brody became very central to the show, and even though Claire Danes is a great actress with, as New Yorker says “volcanic performances”, Homeland has not been only about Carrie Mathison. That may be what the writers had originally intended, but I think they were also captivated by the complexity of the Brody storyline that the show has turned out to be about Carrie and Brody. Otherwise, Brody should have exploded that suicide vest and killed Walden and others in that bunker in Season 1.
Yes, Homeland could have gone into a different direction long ago if Brody had exploded the suicide vest in Season 1. But he did not, and he gradually became the show itself. That is why I just cannot see any slight benefit to killing him. I really think it was not the benefit but it was probably the cost, the cost that writers would have to incur to write that difficult part, and the easy exit was to get rid of Brody, kill him with a bang, get the highest TV ranking ever for the show and move on to the perks of having a clean slate: Carrie moving to Istanbul to be a station chief, so there is new life, and possibly new love (please don’t make Quinn that new love interest!). I know the writers particularly with Meredith Stiehm in the writer’s room will do a good job with the show in Season 4, but again I think this was the easy way out.
Alex Gansa, the executive director of Homeland, said this week that they tested the audience by keeping Brody out for the big chunk of the season (he only appeared in episodes 3, 9, 10, 11 and 12) to see if the show would still be popular without Brody. I am sorry, but this is bullshit. What kind of a test is this? Yes, Brody was absent from more than half of the episodes, but even when he was not physically there, he was still there all over the place in Season 3. All Carrie was trying to do was to clean his name. All Dana storyline was fundamentally about Brody. And many viewers looked forward to the next episode because they anticipated Brody’s return. The show really picked up its breakneck speed only when Brody came back in “One Last Time.” He was Homeland. And just think about Season 4 for a second… Carrie will be a new mom, and to Brody’s baby, no less. Thus, Brody will still be there. And, knowing Carrie, I am almost positive that she will try to reach out to Jess and Dana to let them know about why and how Brody died. Or maybe even introduce Dana to her baby sister. Again… Brody…. So, I am with the doctor in Caracas on this one: Brody is “unkillable” now when you have killed him. I do not believe that you can really start with a clean slate after 3 seasons. You have a ghost that will always be there.
Last Sunday’s episode was the series finale—for me. Period. Once Carrie made that star on the wall, that was it. I want it to be over exactly like Brody said just before his execution. Again, I know that they will do a good job with Season 4, but it is just that I am not interested anymore. So… Dear Showtime, please stop sending me messages like “relive every moment of Season 3.” Are you kidding me? Why would I want to live every moment of this Season? When I miss Homeland, I will just go back to Season 1 or Season 2, and watch “The Weekend” or “Q&A” or “The Choice.”
Well, it was a great ride as long as it lasted. Damian Lewis is an amazing actor, who I believe will do better and bigger things, and I will happily follow his career.
And, my Brody t-shirt is a keeper 🙂
Epilogue: When I wrote this piece, I had no idea that I would launch Fan Fun with Damian Lewis 14 months. Besides, even though I said Season 3 Finale was the series finale for me, I ultimately ate my words and watched all seasons of Homeland. If you want to know why, the answer is in the video below. ENJOY!