'Homeland' finale: Brody's (and Showtime's) masterstroke

homeland-finale-brody.jpgIn the end, Sgt. Nicolas Brody ( Damian Lewis) didn't detonate a room full of the most powerful government officials in the United States. He came thisclose, but a glitch derailed his first attempt to trigger his explosive vest and an impeccably-timed call from his daughter shut down his second -- and final -- attempt.

Sunday's (Dec. 18) "Homeland" finale on Showtime left us -- despite a season's worth of twists and turns -- exactly where we were at the close of the first episode: wondering if Marine Sgt. Nicolas Brody is a terrorist.

Is he still a pawn in Abu Nazeer's game of high stakes chess with the United States or has finally overcome his years of captivity, brainwashing and the death of his student (and Nazeer's son) to run his own game? He believes in a cause, but it's possible that it has diverged from Nazeer's. Brody loves his family and, for him, killing himself and forever disgracing them by association isn't an option anymore.

But his words to Nazeer -- about being able to influence policy at the highest levels and Nazeer's response about killing an idea instead of a man -- are naive at best. Surely they can't be thinking that Brody's election as a freshman Congressman will put him in the position to upend years of U.S. policy and a vast war machine that is running on its own fumes at this point.

It's a question that will carry us into a second season of the show as Brody starts to work from the inside and Carrie ( Claire Danes), who we're pretty sure still believes he's Nazeer's prime operative, is forced to work from the outside -- without the resources of the CIA and likely in violation of the law. Even before she realized -- on the electro-shock table -- that Brody knew Nazeer's son, Carrie never admitted that she was wrong. When confronted by Brody, who again told her she was wrong about him, the best she could muster was "I understand."

What she understands is that she has an illness that has gotten in the way of her being able to do her job. Sure, it may have given her the "Beautiful Mind"-like qualities needed to see a pattern in the chaos of Nazeer's game, but she finally truly got that her sickness -- and her feelings for Brody -- had clouded her ability to catch him.

Consider us -- like President Obama -- officially hooked on this show. We're super interested to see how this plays out in a second season and we'll be talking to executive producer Alex Gansa on Monday to ask where the show is headed. We're pretty sure the answer is classified -- but we'll do our best to decipher the chatter.

Photo/Video credit: Showtime