TV review: Homeland

This great final episode to a great series leaves us looking forward to more

Where were we, then, in Homeland (Channel 4)? That's right; the bomb that went off in the square tipped Carrie over the edge, left her in a dark and lonely place – manic, abandoned, ignored, fired. At least she has her family, an understanding sister and father with similar issues. And Saul, the only person in the whole world who thinks there may actually be something in Carrie's crazy collage of colour and classified information on the wall.

Brody has been on his very American/ very un-American family mini-break to Gettysburg, taught the kids a bit of history and picked up his special vest, packed with wires and explosives and ball bearings. Now he's busy – making some small adjustments to the vest, getting in a little bit more quality time with Jessica and the children, filming a video message, washing his hands and feet, making the final preparations for jihad.

Walker, meanwhile, is still out there somewhere, with his massive sniper gun. And lurking even further back in the shadows, pulling the strings, is master puppeteer Abu Nazir.

God, it's exciting isn't it? Homeland has been through different phases; it started off with all guns blazing, 100 miles an hour, fortissimo. Not unlike 24 (many of the same people were involved in the creation of the two shows). But unlike 24, which tended to stay at that level, Homeland then moved into different sections – quieter, slower, more thoughtful moods. It allowed themes to develop, more complex than the black-and-white, good-v-evil of 24. Here were shades of grey – hey, maybe even as there are in the real world. And it allowed characters to develop, too. Not just Brody and Carrie (brilliantly portrayed by Damian Lewis and Claire Danes throughout, though she possibly slightly overdoes her bipolar disorder at the end – no one ever underdoes mental illness, do they?). But the minor characters were great too; Morgan Saylor, as Brody's daughter Dana, stands out – someone who grew and became more and more important as the series went on.

Then, with a few episodes to go, a roll of the timpani, that explosion in a Washington square and a bullet from Walker the lethal sniping machine in the woods, the crescendo began. It wasn't just the volume that was growing, but the tempo too, and most of all the tension. Until, entering the finale, it became almost unbearable.

There are all kinds of tensions going on here; it's not just about whether Brody is going to do it, but also about whether you want him to or not. Hell, I think I really did. So a few politicians will get blown up in a bunker, but perhaps that's what Vice-President Walden himself would call collateral damage that falls within acceptable limits. Certainly it would pay Walden back for his cowardly drone attack that left 82 kids, including Abu Nazir's son Issa, dead. See? There's that grey again.

Too many thrillers fail to deliver in the final episode of a series. They simply run out of puff, or they dissolve disappointingly into ambiguity (even series one of The Killing was guilty of that). Or they are only looking forward to the next series, and in thinking of the future they forget about the present, leaving the viewer feeling cheated. What you want – as you do from good drugs (I'm told) or good sex (ditto) – is to feel satisfied, probably exhausted, but still looking forward to more.

And that's pretty much how I'm feeling here. It's a great ending. OK, there is no big bang, which perhaps is bit disappointing, but it would have been hard to keep Brody for the next series if the Gettysburg vest had gone boom. He is essential, as of course is Carrie – the hero here again, even though she doesn't know it. The Brody-Walker working together thing is clever, as is what they and Abu Nazir were trying to do. But there are no silly twists or unexpected curve balls flying in from nowhere. It all kind of makes sense, and it feels like the end, but not of everything. Plus the pointers forward – Carrie's sudden ECT eureka moment, the missing video, Brody and Abu Nazir's agreement to fight on – entice and tantalise. Next time though, they are fighting not people but an idea. Bloody hell, I can't wait.


Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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