It's been quite the season for Homeland and fans of Homeland. We have had our ups. And boy, have we had our downs. Sunday's finale has a lot riding on it: A great episode could quash the feeling that the show has already peaked, and reestablish the series as the Next Great Show. A crummy episode, though, will solidify Homeland's position as the show that got everybody excited and then let them all down. Let's walk through some possible scenarios, and then have a predict-o-rama contest, in which you readers can try to guess what will happen, and the one who comes closest Sunday night will win a prize! Vamanos.
1. Carrie Kills Brody
Carrie and Brody can't live happily ever after. It's not clear that they can live, period. We've watched as Carrie has degraded herself, sacrificed any semblance of professionalism, and actively lied about the assassination of the vice-president. The only way she can really prove that she's not a complete traitor to her country would be to kill her boyfriend. The course of true love never did run through the war on terror, etc.
Does it seem likely? Yeah. Narratively, it makes sense, and Really Going For It is Homeland's calling card. Can you believe they killed off one of the main characters? That kind of chitchat takes you straight back to the Emmys.
Would it be satisfying? Yes. It'd be sad to see Brody go, but it sort of looks like the only real option.
2. Brody Kills Carrie
Has Carrie "turned" Brody back or not? What would he be willing to do to survive? We can't picture Brody killing Carrie to punish her, but it's possible that there'd be an "only one of us can live" scenario and he'd pick himself.
Does it seem likely? Not as likely as the other way around, certainly.
Would it be satisfying? Unclear. It's easy enough to picture Homeland without Brody. (Carrie and Saul, solving crimes.) But Homeland without Carrie is harder to picture. (Brody and Saul, being intense?)
3. After Talking to Saul, Dana Kills Herself
After talking to Saul in season one, the imprisoned Hamid killed himself. (And we still don't know how he got that razor.) After talking to Saul, the imprisoned Aileen killed herself. (With the eyeglasses Saul lent her.) Dana's the most trapped character, the least empowered and the most frustrated and angry. Maybe Saul could reveal the truth about her dad to her and drive her to the ultimate tragic-TV-teen decision. How many episodes of Dead Like Me do we need to watch before we become convinced Mandy Patinkin is an angel of death?
Does it seem likely? No, but it is time for those two to meet. They can have an indignation-off.
Would it be satisfying? No, it would be sad. There's a Dana-hater world out there, but we're pro-sulky teens.
4. Quinn Kills Brody, then Carrie Kills Quinn
We know Quinn has been dispatched to take Brody out. We know Carrie will go to absurd lengths to protect Brody. We know everyone is very pretty and should solve these conflicts through gentle caresses, not violence.
Does it seem likely? Look, someone has to kill Brody. And Carrie and Quinn have a connection that endangers her relationship with Brody, a relationship they've both made insane sacrifices for.
Would it be satisfying? No! If Quinn and Brody are both dead, with whom will Carrie share smoldering glances?
5. Galvez Stages a Coup, Ousts Estes, Rehires Carrie, Promotes Saul
Poor Galvez. He helps Estes out with spying in the first season, and this is the thanks he gets? Getting shot and suspected of helping Abu Nazir, when all he was trying to do was quietly get to a hospital without bothering anybody on the mission with his torn-staples bleeding? Now it's his time to shine. It's a new day at the CIA!
Does it seem likely? Maybe not. But it seems like we know a lot about Galvez even though he is not really in on the action.
Would it be satisfying? Anything that gave Estes his comeuppance would be satisfying. No one fucks with Saul "not the Bear" Berenson.
So now for the contest. It's your turn to predict in the comments section below what will happen on the Homeland finale. Whoever gets the closest wins the big prize: A portrait of yourself with Mandy Patinkin's Saul beard, expertly photoshopped by the Vulture art team. It also comes with a loaf of challah, so you can make all the "Mandy Patinkin, Holla!" jokes you want.
When submitting your predictions, be specific — very specific. Anyone can write "Dana complains," so to be properly judged you need to give a sense of what plot points will lead up to the climactic moment. (And moments shown in last week's "Next on Homeland" don't count.) The Vulture editors will award the portrait and bread to whoever we think came closest to what actually played out. Good luck!