'The Vest' should be handed out to TV scriptwriters and producers as a lesson in penultimate episodes. It's warmed us up with threats of suicide bombs, moles and bipolar CIA staff and we're all ready now for what should be a (quite literally) explosive finale.
After a family trip to Gettysburg, where Brody gives a rather telling history lesson to his kids, his wife appears to believe that they're playing happy familes again. She doesn't even appear to find it strange that Brody is willing to forgive his best mate who was "looking after her and the kids" (a cracking euphemism) while he was being battered and beaten, presumed dead.
Only Brody's daughter appears to have any suspicion that her father isn't quite right. Partly because Damian Lewis keeps doing his creepy staring into the distance thing, and more importantly because he's packed something suspcious in the boot of his car. Come on Brody, nobody buys their wife a special present from the drugstore!
The genius of Homeland is that despite the fact Brody appears ready to send half of Washington sky high, he doesn't feel like a villain of the piece. He remains a victim and a post-traumatic stress sufferer. His conviction that he's doing 'the right thing' means that this isn't a simple turn of character from good guy to bad guy.
Brody may have been packing the explosives, but it was Carrie and Claire Danes who held most of our attention this week. If there was ever any doubt, it was probably this performance that finally snagged Danes the Golden Globe.
After last week's blast, Carrie has gone manic and hit rock bottom. Her bipolar disorder has been revealed to her mentor Saul has been tipped off by Brody about her previous little obsession with him and it looks like she's out of a job. Her pinned-up timeline that reveals the cause of Brody's turning (the death of Issa) has also been torn down by Estes (did he never watch The Wire - never rip down the wall of notes!) .
Danes gave a performance of huge power, but also of great subtlety. She may be wailing, spouting theories at 10,000 words a minute and screaming for her green pen, but she remains the only character who truly has a handle on what's going on with Brody and Abu Nazir. Danes makes Carrie believable. Not just believable as a wild off-the-wall character, but also believable as a smart, insightful but broken individual.
If Homeland was like any other show, we'd be gearing up for an suicide bombing attempt that would be foiled at the last. Saul or Estes would suddenly believe Carrie and figure out his plans.
But of course, this is Homeland. The carpet isn't just tugged from underneath you. You are wrapped up in it and thrown out of the window inside it.
What role will Sgt Walker play in Brody's plans? Who is the mole in the CIA? Estes? Saul? Agent Galves? And can Brody's daughter end up saving the day with a video camera?
Whatever we think is going to happen, we'd wager quite heavily that Homeland will screw up and rip apart within about five minutes of the finale. We reckon there could be at least one more major curveball for Brody and Carrie yet.
Homeland's first season finale airs next Sunday (May 6) on Channel 4 at 9pm.
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