Logic was not the best friend of Showtime’s dramas “Dexter” and “Homeland” this week.
Following its worst-reviewed season to date, “Dexter” ended its sixth year with an utterly-predictable final reveal, mediocre storytelling and more maddening behavior from the characters, including the supposedly brilliant individual at its center. The same guy who recorded a video message for the Doomsday killer and left an “anonymous tip” for the police using his own cell phone and his very recognizable voice damages a crime scene (which the detectives, for some reason, opted not to examine until the blood spatter expert showed up) and then kills a wanted murderer at that murderer’s known hideout after having already confirmed to his sister that he would be at that very location.
Because “Homeland” told a far more beautiful, compelling story this season–from the first minutes of the premiere to the closing shot of the finale–many will find it far easier to overcome the logical gaps and plotline disappointments of the show’s first season finale. But that does not mean such negatives were not present and quite evident.
Nothing about the handling of the assassination plot was particularly-logical. Moments after a shooting, security ushers the Vice President and other high-ranking government officials into a tight bunker–without searching the persons of those brought into the quarters. It would be protocol (and just common sense) to search everybody anytime that many high-level assets were in a room together, and yet in the midst of an actual assassination attempt, we decide to just skip that step?
Of course, why bother searching people when the bomb vest–one which was assembled as part of a plot years in the making–ended up malfunctioning? Really? Damian Lewis has done a marvelous job capturing the tension of each scene, and his work here was again brilliant, but the whole idea of the bomb failing to detonate is so beyond illogical and so obviously just a tacky technique to enhance the suspense of the scene. Insofar as they were going to have his daughter talk him out of the plot anyway, why not just skip that phone call? For as much as I liked seeing Lewis sell the emotion and panic associated with the build to his pressing the trigger, the scene was just incomprehensible.
As for that phone call, another “really” is in order. Even if we assume there was perfect cell phone reception in the bunker, we’re supposed to assume that they’ll just patch through the daughter of one of the lowest-priority targets in the room? And no attention, seemingly, was paid to the fact that the daughter called on a phone belonging to an ex-CIA agent who had her security clearance stripped (why was the phone even working?)?
And what about that scene between Carrie and Brody’s daughter? Carrie hands over the phone to the girl without providing instructions on how to actually reach the secret service (just that it will patch you right through) and then doesn’t even suspect the possibility she will go into business for herself (and her family) and report Carrie as an intruder?
The list of logical gaps is long–far too long for a show that was trying to position itself as a more human, realistic alternative to shows like “24.” But that list was not the only flaw of the finale. There is also the case of the “mole.”
While many “Homeland” fans felt the mole storyline was an unneeded addition to the series that weekend the very human, tense drama driving the show’s narrative, the fact remains that it was still a factor throughout the season. Somebody slipped the terrorist subject a razor blade that he used to kill himself to avoid interrogation. Somebody warned Aileen that her boyfriend was being followed by American intelligence officers. Somebody warned Tom Walker not to show up for his meeting at the fountain.
Just a few episodes ago, “Homeland” made it very clear that the someone responsible for these unfortunate twists was a mole within the CIA, or at least the broader US defense/intelligence sphere.
Again, this was a bad storyline–but it existed, and it should have been resolved, or at least addressed. While the identity of the killer in “The Killing” is far more central to the show than the identity of the mole is to “Homeland,” no critic in the world tolerated the AMC series’ failure to reveal that identity in the season one finale. And yet here, just because “Homeland” is a more widely-respected show than “The Killing,” we ignore a major plot point getting thrown out the window?
Interestingly, when the events of the finale are taken into account, it is not particularly likely that any of the central mole suspects could have been guilty. Saul seems pretty exonerated at this point (if it turns out he is indeed revealed as the mole, it would be really hard to reconcile everything he did in this episode), leaving Brody and Estes as the only individuals who realistically could have given the suspect the razor blade. From what we saw of Estes this week, he is clearly misguided by his loyalty to the Vice President, but there is no evidence that he would have been part of a plot to attack said Vice President and his country. And Brody, though still involved with Nazir, would not have had the means to alert Aileen and Walker on the other occasions. So, there is no realistic way to tie all the “mole” stuff back to any existing character (except, perhaps, Carrie–who obviously isn’t the mole).
(Note: Galvez was not included as a suspect; though he theoretically could be “the mole,” the character has been far too low-key for such a reveal to bring any significance. If he becomes a major player in season two, the attitude might change).
So, given that constraint, it is sensible that the show will have to wait until new characters are introduced next season. The problem, however, is that the very idea of the mole was absent from this week’s episode. Had there at least been some groundwork set, viewers would go into season two evaluating the suspects and trying to figure out how they could fit into the plot, which is part of the fun of a suspense series. As it stands, they presently have no reason to be sure that “mole” element will even resurface next year.
The shame about all this is that the finale, at its core, told a beautiful story, and that final moment of Carrie connecting Brody to Nazir’s son just before getting shock therapy was a great way to culminate the season. Clarie Danes and Damian Lewis once again gave Emmy-caliber performances. This had all the makings of a classic season finale.
But instead of playing to the strengths of the episode, the talent and the series, “Homeland” went too far in trying to fit an excess of action into the final episode, and the result is that some of what needed to be included was overlooked in favor of mind-numbingly dumb things.