There was really no cliffhanger at the end of the third season of Homeland, but all that was left were questions. Obviously, spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution.
So let's review what happened: Brody's dead, and for real this time. He was hanged in a public square in Iran for killing the head of the Revolutionary Guard in a CIA plot. Cut to four months later: Saul is sunning with his wife in some exotic locale and planning a post-agency life in New York. Carrie's very pregnant with what is now definitely Brody's baby. Lockhart offers her the job of station chief in Istanbul—which, seriously?—and having major second thoughts about giving birth—which, duh. The episode ends with Carrie memorializing Brody with some light CIA vandalism—she draws a memorial star for him—and walking away with some confidence in her step. When the episode was over, David Itzkoff of the New York Times tweeted: "welp, that was a great Homeland series finale. oh, what?" Yeah, there's another season lined up.
So the biggest questions for season four, of which there are many: What will Carrie do with her baby? What part will New York-bound Saul play in the action? Will Carrie and Peter Quinn ever make out? (Okay, maybe that one's only for a select few viewers.) We already know that the actresses who play Brody's wife and daughter have been downgraded from series regulars, and it's very hard to imagine them returning at all, unless the show becomes Dana's Adventures in Motel Cleaning.
At the end of the second season, a bombing at the Agency perhaps created a clean slate for a show that had a brilliant first season but muddled through its second. That was wishful thinking. The third season was tonally uneven—remember those early Carrie-in-the-psych-ward episodes? They seem so long ago—and at times simply outlandish. But, to hand it to Alex Gansa and crew, it all led to an satisfying finale. Brody finally met the fate that it always seemed was coming his way, but the death was, refreshingly, not played for shock value. It was a slow build that allowed a viewer to feel emotional about Brody's decision to accept death, and Carrie's own devastation.
With Brody gone, however, the show is back in the spot it might have been if the bomb had gone off at the end of the first season, only with Brody dying as a hero, not a villain. Now the writers have to create a new threat for the CIA and for our heroine, who we assume will be coming back despite her impending motherhood. That threat will have to be something that doesn't involve a sexy possible terrorist with whom she falls in love. If the writers have got a story they want to tell, it could be exciting. They'll still have to deal with the character hangups they've invested in—Carrie's erratic behavior, to put it lightly, will always be a problem—but reinvention really is at their fingertips.
For some, however, this is the time to say goodbye. "I don’t think I ever really care to watch Homeland again, even if Carrie is swagging around Istanbul," Willa Paskin wrote at Slate. "That’s a show I wanted to watch two seasons ago, before I lost faith inHomeland’s ability to be coherent." On the other hand, maybe some will come back to the show with the hope that it might inspire again.
I, for one, had been unwilling to give up on this show, and I'm now quite eager to see what happens next season. My desire to stick with Homeland was not because I had any affinity for the Carrie-Brody ship, but more that I was fascinated to see what tangled, silly webs the writers will weave. I held out hope that the show would become what it once was. With the plot now wide open, that chance seems greater than ever. I would be very happy if the show reverts to showing Carrie as the competent—if bipolar—Cassandra she was in the first season, not the out-of-control woman of last two seasons, that lady that seems to make perpetually bad decisions and quiver her chin.
Homeland season four could suck, but at least the future is, at the moment, full of possibility. Sorry, Brody.