Whatever failings season three of Homeland had, at least it ended well. “The Star” is an emotional, subdued finale that succeeds by remembering one of the key themes that made Homeland’s first season work. Beyond the spy hijinks and the Carrie/Brody romance, season one was motivated by a sense of powerlessness. Both Carrie and Brody felt like cogs in a cruel machine, only able to make a difference through destruction. That shifted in the largely implausible endgame of season two, and this carried over to season three.
What makes “The Star” such a potent, memorable finale is that it restores that sense of fatalism. Brody (and Saul) make a difference, only to be chewed up by the callous teeth of those cogs inexorably grinding away. It would’ve been easy to make Brody’s fate in this episode a surprise, a twist, but it never came across that way. The star-cross’d lovers discussion of a shared future was absent of hope; laced with doom.
Like the end of season one, “The Star” concludes this season with no clear next step in sight. Hopefully that will provide impetus for the writers to find a new direction for a show that well-and-truly needs one.