Claire Danes plays a paranoid CIA agent on "Homeland" (Kent Smith/Showtime)The first season of "Homeland" has been powerful, upsetting, dramatic, intense, and filled with jaw-dropping surprises. We've been captivated every single minute, so in honor of one of our very favorite shows of the year (if not the last several years), we're handing out superlatives for the moments that stood out the most. (Spoiler warning for those who haven't seen every one of the first eleven episodes.)
Most Depressing Dinner
Saul's wife left him and he became even more of a workaholic than before -- so much so that he had nothing to go home for. He ended up staying in his office late at night, scouring the empty CIA fridge, only to end up eating peanut butter straight from the jar -- off a ruler.
Best Ugly Cry
Claire Danes possesses a truly amazing talent to quiver her lower lip while scrunching up her face into the most unfortunate positions. It was displayed best when Carrie found out she was getting fired from the CIA for her indiscretion with Brody.
Best Commercial for Bipolar Medication
Carrie may have been getting meds under the table from her sister, but after seeing how erratic she behaved after the park bombing when she was without them for a few days, we're convinced that being well-medicated is highly necessary.
Worst Commercial for Vitamin Water
While shopping at the grocery store, Brody was baffled by the existence of Vitamin Water. Then he got jumped on the way to his car and beaten to hell by Abu Nazir's men before being taken to the white room, where he was reminded of the reason for his mission. Yes, we're blaming the water.
Most Surprising Terrorist
Nice twist, show: making us think Faisel was a terrorist and Aileen was his duped accomplice, when really it was the other way around. We didn't see the pretty white blonde as much of a threat, so it was quite a wonderful shock -- one of many.
Best Use of a Child Actor
Abu Nazir took Brody out of brutal captivity and brought him to his house to teach his son, Isa, English. The American and the little boy developed such a wonderful relationship that involved soccer and praying to Allah. But when Isa went out to play and ended up getting killed by a U.S. drone attack, we were moved by a distraught Brody taking the tiny body and wrapping it in a shroud, all while the Vice President of the United States was on television chalking the casualties up to terrorist propaganda. It brought everything in to perspective, and that kid was damned amazing.
Worst Use of a Child Actor
We realize Dana was supposed to be an annoying teenager, but she went above and beyond (we're talking Grace Florrick annoying). We even went into the finale actively rooting for something very bad to happen to her. We know it's wrong, but we couldn't help it.
Most Helpful Support Group
Brody went to a support group for veterans who were struggling to adapt back to civilian life, and after Carrie stalked him there, the two subsequently hooked up. She gained a lot of intel; he got his groove back. Win, win.
Worst Use of Surveillance Equipment
Carrie got some slapped-together permission to wire Brody's house, but Virgil and his crack team forgot to put cameras in the garage -- you know, the only spot without windows that offered total privacy for Brody.
Most Exciting Memorial Service
We're guessing most military funerals don't involve a handicapped soldier heckling a former POW. They also probably don't feature a POW discovering that his wife was having sex with his best friend while he was presumed dead, and then punching said best friend in the face repeatedly.
Most Innocent Victim of a Terrorist Shooting
Brody might have had just a tiny bit of trouble adjusting to American society after years away. First he punched a reporter, and then he shot a deer that dared to eat his precious flowers -- during a party. Poor deer.
Most Idiotic Victim of a Terrorist Shooting
The hunter in the woods who saw Walker and talked to him? Idiot. He saw a guy with a giant sniper rifle that looked military-issue, alone in the woods, and still decided to strike up a conversation with him? Then, with his suspicions suitably raised, he didn't exactly burn rubber getting out of there. Bang.
Even considering how many twists this season threw at us, leading us (and Brody) to believe that he had killed his pal Walker in order to stay alive while being tortured, and then revealing that Walker was not only alive but up to no good in the D.C. area, was simply incredible storytelling.
Person Most Deserving of Hazard Pay
Sure, she got nice jewelry for her trouble, but Lynne found herself having to do some unspeakably nasty things to pleasure Prince Farid. Then she found herself standing mere inches from one of the most wanted men in the world, and she ended up getting killed in an alley after spilling information to the CIA. No one said being a hooker/spy was easy.
Deadliest Family Vacation
Trips to Gettysburg are usually dull obligatory things that parents drag their kids to during the summer to teach them history. The visit on this show had the added benefit of having a handy neighborhood suicide bomb-maker in the vicinity, allowing Brody to pick up a spiffy new vest, stash it in the trunk of his car, and end the trip with burgers and hand-shaking at the local diner. Burning question: Did he ever get that toothbrush he supposedly forgot to pack?
Best Romantic Getaway
Carrie's cabin in the woods was the perfect place to go if you were a married man looking to hook up with a hot, clearly emotionally damaged spy who may be investigating you. It's cozy and comfortable, though missing your favorite kind of tea. Still, it's remote enough that you can spill the skeletons in your closet to a practical stranger.
Most Pointless Use of Government Funds
After Hamid killed himself with a razor blade that was slipped to him, the CIA decided to force everyone who was in the room with him to take a lie detector test. Saul nearly ended up admitting guilt, even though he was mostly just flustered because of his personal life, and the stone-cold Brody (who was actually working for a terrorist) answered the questions without breaking a sweat. If the polygraph is so easy to beat, why even bother?
Best Reason to Make a Trip to Staples
While in her manic unmedicated state, Carrie started randomly highlighting documents related to Abu Nazir with a color-coded system. Her goal was unclear, until Saul arranged the papers in their appropriate rainbow display and Nazir's actions became very clear. Between the highlighters and the giant wall of corkboard, we all learned a valuable lesson about stocking up on the proper supplies to ferret out terrorists.
Get a sneak peek at this week's "Homeland" season finale right here:
The season finale of "Homeland" airs Sunday, 12/18 at 10pm on Showtime.
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