The "Homeland" season finale airs Sunday at 10 PM, and it's sure to feature the same cuticle-gnawing tension and "how will they get out of this one" cliffhangers as last year's. Yes, the celebrated drama has flirted with implausibility in its sophomore season. …OK, it's full-on French-kissed implausibility a few times, but that's just one of the things that makes "Homeland" such an exciting watch.
Eight scenes, twists, and demises that kept us on the edge of our couch cushions in Season 2:
1. Brody is arrested and flipped -- in only the season's fourth episode
We expected the cat-and-mouse between Brody and the CIA to come to a head towards the end of the season, as it had last year. Instead, Brody becomes a double agent, opening a whole new avenue of plot (and character work) the audience hadn't already seen in the first season.
2. Quinn stabs Brody in the hand during the interrogation
Pure theater, both within the interrogation itself -- it's an extreme good cop/bad cop play by Quinn to soften Brody up for Carrie's questions -- and on the show's part, to hint to viewers that perhaps Carrie is not the unbalanced one in the scenario. Most shows would try to startle the audience with a fake-out, plunging the knife into the table next to the captive's hand, but "Homeland" went there... and we jumped.
3. The slaughter in the tailor's Gettysburg shop
Another scene we likely should have seen coming, but the ferocity of the gunfire took our breath away. And it led to another surprise…
4. He's like a cat, that Galvez
But he's gotten cut nearly in half by machine-gun fire, then had his stitches torn open by a combination of pushing himself too hard during the mill raid and Carrie's suspicion that he's the mole. We're not convinced he isn't -- we believe his stitches broke, but why didn't he just say so before sidling off to the hospital like he had something to hide? -- but regardless, he's down to seven lives.
5. Finn Walden runs over a pedestrian, and drives off like a little sociopath
The minute Finn got that "I am a teenage boy with six cylinders to exploit" grin on his face and gunned the motor, we knew something bad was going to happen -- not least because Dana looked happy for the first time in, well, ever. But the chilling whomp of the woman's body as it rolled up the front of the Walden SUV still made us jump. And while we probably should have expected the aftermath -- the Vice President pays off the woman's family, while Finn is bummed primarily about how killing another human being is affecting his relationship with Dana -- we were still disappointed. He seemed like such a nice kid!
6. Carrie and Brody have sex -- with everyone listening
Of course they slept together again; the whole season to date had built to their intimate reunion. And of course Saul bugged the joint, because he's Saul, and he's awesome. What we did find astonishing was how long the team had to listen to them getting it on -- and the black humor of the scene, Saul turning the volume down, Quinn snottily turning it back up, both vainly trying to have a practical discussion about the op through the moaning and bedspring-skronking.
What a great episode-ender that was: Abu Nazir emerging from the shadows, clean-shaven, on American soil, to intone Brody's name. The fact that, to date, nobody at the Central "Intelligence" Agency has figured out how this terrorist king of kings got into the country in the first place is almost more shocking. But then again…
8. Nazir let himself get killed -- before the season finale
Nazir got into the States undetected, managed to pull various lieutentants' marionette strings without having calls traced, eluded the takedown in the restaurant parking lot and the initial search of the mill, and masterminded the death of a sitting vice president remotely by playing a second hostage off the first one he'd already released. The murder of Walden was, of course, his endgame, so when he knelt quietly for his suicide by cop last week, it made sense. But the fact is, he probably could have stayed a step ahead of the CIA if he'd wanted to, as that organization is evidently too busy bickering with and backstabbing itself to focus on catching the guy. The "Homeland" writers don't seem to realize yet that having Carrie always get it right is beginning to pall, so we credit them for putting an end to Nazir's reign of super-genius scheming.
Did we miss any gasp-inducing reveals? Did you see Nazir's visit coming, or wish we'd listed Mike and Jess's guest-room rendezvous instead? Let us know about your list of shocking "Homeland" moments in the comments.
Catch the "Homeland" finale at 10 PM Sunday on Showtime.