The article below contains spoilers for "In Memoriam," the December 9th, 2012 episode of "Homeland."
Once upon a time there was a girl named Carrie (Claire Danes) and a boy named Brody (Damian Lewis), and they met at a time of war and strife, and despite one of them being crazy and the other married and a terrorist, they fell in love and lived happily ever after.
Well, that last part seems unlikely. But "In Memoriam," Sunday's episode of "Homeland" directed by Jeremy Podeswa ("Fugitive Pieces") and written by Chip Johannessen, brought the season's high-pitched terrorist attack arc to an end by having Carrie, following a not entirely sensical semantic clue she picked up on from Roya's (Zuleikha Robinson) use of a particular word for "run," realizing that Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) was still hiding in the tunnels of the building to which he took her. After a tense sequence in which Carrie and her quickly killed tactical team member escort scuttle through the dark with their dangerous target in pursuit, he's taken down, shot to death as he reaches for something (a weapon? a bomb trigger? just an empty gesture to prompt the attack?) in his jacket.
And that's... that? Nazir, the show's al-Qaeda mastermind, Osama bin Laden equivalent and overall big bad, is gone, somewhat anticlimactially reduced to a body in the back of a van. His team, including Roya, has been taken into custody, his plot to attack a homecoming event for returning soldiers has been foiled -- the terrorists have seemingly been defeated. Sure, Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan) is dead, but no one liked him anyway except, apparently, his cover-up happy wife, who's probably going to have a fabulous widowhood in Florida. What's left is Estes' (David Harewood) intention to have Brody murdered now that he's no longer useful -- we already knew that Quinn (Rupert Friend) had been tasked to do the deed before, and here we saw him sitting outside Carrie's house as she greeted her tarnished knight, having been told by the CIA director that "I'd still like it handled as soon as possible."
All that's left are loose ends, but there are a lot of them. What made that sorta fairy tale ending, in which Brody parted ways with Jessica (Morena Baccarin) after a sensible, honest conversation about how their marriage is over and headed over to see Carrie, so tainted by approaching doom was not just Quinn's presence but the awareness that the show's got another season in the works, and it's probably not going to involve a domestic dramedy about what happens when a bipolar CIA agent and a former terrorist congressman move in together ("He always says he has to go pray when I ask him to do the dishes!"). No, something has to go wrong, and it's either going to come from within the U.S. government (never portrayed in a particularly flattering light on the show), from other unknown Nazir affiliates, or from a secret agenda Brody himself is harboring that requires his worming his way into her life for some reason.
That last is the most tantalizing possibility, because Brody and Carrie are best when at odds, when beset with trust issues but drawn to each other anyway. It'd be incredibly cruel to see him playing off the feelings she's spoken about so publicly (always as a means of manipulating him), but it'd also be great TV. Last week's disappointing episode found Brody doing whatever it took to free Carrie, an act that seemed out of character for him -- unless that was the point, and he and Nazir were playing a game for their only audience member, the hostage. The prospect of his triple agency is alluring, if not romantic ("It was you or Walden," he said while caressing her face and admitting to gallantly killing the VP for her, "Carrie, it wasn't even close!"), because Brody's good at hiding his emotion and at playing on those of others, and Carrie's so terribly vulnerable in this way. The idea of them as opponents again is outlandish, but not more so than that of them as a couple.
So the Brodys, including Dana (Morgan Saylor), who's been reduced to brattiness these last two episodes, have been packed off home. Saul, on the other hand, is going to be on his way out unless he comes up with a way to fight back -- Estes got enough on him from that lie detector test (set up by no less than James Urbaniak, who'll hopefully be back) to have him thrown out, mainly because he hasn't been loyal enough ("My problem is the way you continually undermine me"). Politicking in the CIA is clearly pretty savage, and the spectre of Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), who doesn't appear here, is a reminder that problematic people can be taken care of in ways that give a new spin to the idea of forced retirement. And then there's Carrie's mention of a leak, of someone who's been trickling out information to Nazir. Carrie was quick to turn on Galvez (Hrach Titizian) because he's a Muslim, when it turned out he was just going to the hospital after having popped his stiches -- she better send him flowers. There could still be a mole in the office, though we learned that there wasn't someone helping Nazir escape -- he'd been in the building the whole time.
"Homeland" has, in this second season, burned through so much story it's breathtaking, and it has, for the most part, pulled it off, so the fact that it's gotten rid of its ultimate terrorist isn't so worrying, given it's only the latest potentially show-ending twist to be thrown out there. At this point, the must-see aspect of the series is how it'll keep going this time, and whether it'll be able to leap out of the latest corner into which its painted itself without breaking character. Will it work out? Can't wait to see.