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Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 12). Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 12).

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Where Does Homeland Go From Here?

So what now? Homeland made some bold moves on last night's finale, and while "The Choice" doesn't excuse some of the dumbness of the season, it does at least help explain the planning behind it. (There are plenty of remaining nitpicky questions, though there probably always will be.) But what can the show do now that everything is up in the air? Let's speculate! Wildly!

Carrie Her head belongs to the CIA, but her heart belongs to Brody, so halfway through next season at the latest, you know we're going to hear her say "Saul, I have to go find him." Until then, she has a hell of a lot of explaining to do: Surely every investigator in the country will be piecing together a second-by-second timeline of how the bombing occurred, at what points security was breached, etc., and she'll have to account for the time between the explosion and her return. (Which is a long time. Long enough to drive from Washington, D.C., to Canada and back.) Saul loves her, but can he trust her judgment? She's also been through some pretty traumatic events in the past year and change — which means it's time for her to go to therapy. The show loves giving Claire Danes big, dramatic lines to spit out, and if In Treatment taught us anything, it's that a shrink's couch is a big, dramatic line's natural habitat. Homeland has made its terrorism plots not at all believable: Carrie's the only person who can search a warehouse, and you can park a car right outside the CIA HQ, unlike every other federal building in America post–Oklahoma City. But the show's been solid on the emotional resonance front, and it would be better off doubling down on that skill set than trying to make us care about Carrie and Saul tracking down more terrorists that aren't Abu Nazir.

Saul Survivor guilt is a powerful thing. And Saul didn't just survive while strangers perished — he survived while his friends and colleagues did not. He's an incredibly moral guy, and the fact that his vindication, his sudden promotion, and his reunion with his estranged wife are based on tragedy just won't sit right with him. It's not his fault, but Saul is benefiting from a tragedy, and he won't be able to live with that idea for long. Maybe he can turn to … playing the piano and singing to let his feelings out! He's also going to wind up with some kind of copy of Brody's cellphone records, at which point he'll discover the text with Walden's pacemaker info. Oh, he won't understand right away, but Carrie will have to help him, and eventually Saul's going to realize that the big secret she's been keeping isn't that she loved Brody and isn't just that she helped him escape. It's that she's complicit in covering up an assassination.

Brody The new most-wanted man on earth is going to have to go full-Jumanji in the Canadian forest if he wants to emerge unrecognizable. We're envisioning Brody being the Uncle Traveling Matt to Homeland's Fraggle Rock — growing some bushy facial hair, experiencing adventure and danger, and sending occasional coded dispatches back about the strange and impressive things he's witnessed. But Brody doesn't know how to disappear, and the only people who maybe don't want to see him executed are al-Qaeda. Brody was loyal enough to help assassinate Walden; they might still consider him an asset. Then Carrie could rescue him all over again!

Quinn Team Saul needs a badass. Saul doesn't necessarily trust Quinn — if that is his real name— but every outfit needs some muscle, and Quinn's the only one who knew the depths of Estes's plans. Carrie and Quinn can finally hook up, if only to fill the gap in Carrie's life where "dangerous love affair" is supposed to go.

Dana Poor Dana. If Brody's not in D.C., we probably won't see his family on an episode-to-episode basis. (What about Chris's soccer games?!) But it's time for Dana to join forces with Carrie, as some kind of junior agent in the family-name-clearing division. If we don't see Jess or Mike again, whatever. But Dana's going to have to channel her grief and rage into something. It might as well be as Teen Girl Detective. You'd be surprised how little teenage sneering terror suspects can tolerate before they break and spill all their secrets.

Photo: Kent Smith/Showtime