'Homeland's' Explosive Season 2 Finale Decides Sergeant Brody's Fate

Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series, Drama

Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Damian Lewis, Homeland (pictured)

It's been the question that's loomed over the entire second season of Homeland: Would the show dispatch one of its two lead characters (Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis) or continue to have him dodge bullets for another 12 episodes?

The answer was not apparent early in the hour, despite the teasers' many insinuations that someone significant would be getting embalmed, draped in military whites and chucked off a naval ship. Quinn (Rupert Friend), the black ops agent with Brody in his sights about 10 minutes into the finale, had a change of heart.

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He confronts Estes (David Harewood) in his bedroom and calls him out for nearly two seasons' worth of shady doings. Saying he was only charged with dispatching "bad guys," Quinn advises Estes to leave Brody alone or he'll end up back in that house one night to more grim consequences.

As for Carrie (Claire Danes), who was once again playing house with Brody, she has to make the episode's titular "Choice." Her work aiding the killing of Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) brought in an official offer to be station chief at the CIA, reinstating the job she lost at the end of season one -- but only at the cost of cutting her ties with Brody.

The decision causes a rift between Carrie and Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who was sprung from his Langley detention once Quinn got his hooks into Estes.

During Walden and Nazir's respective funerals -- the latter was the one at sea, seen during the previews -- Carrie and Brody retire to an office, where she tells him that she has chosen him over her career. But then Brody's car explodes in front of Walden's funeral service, killing Estes, Walden's family and more than 200 others in the process.

Carrie pulls a gun on Brody, but after he swears Nazir was behind the whole thing, they make a run for it. (She had a secret shed, flush with cash and fake IDs, tucked away the whole time.) Fortunately for them, they're also presumed dead -- especially since the response team figures out that the bomb was in his car. And that tape about him admitting to (not) blowing up last season emerges on national news, courtesy of a terrorism group, re-purposed to claim responsibility for the latest turn of events. Brody is alive, but he is officially outed.

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With Estes gone, Saul is the ranking officer in the counter-terrorism unit, and he assumes his protégé is dead (or really off the rails). In a comforting turn of events, Saul's absentee wife says she's coming back.

Brody's family, officially knocked off their pedestal, await the nation's scorn as news trucks start rolling up in front of their house.

As for Brody, publicly vilified and off the grid, he gets sent on his way. Carrie made her choice, and it's not really that surprising -- and more true to her character than anything she's done the past few episodes. She tells Brody her cause is calling her and that she'll clear his name. The word "love" is mentioned several times. Tears are shed.

Thankfully, Saul does not suffer in the dark for long. In the last shot, in a room full of dead bodies, Carrie calls his name -- and he smiles, much like she did at the end of the season premiere.