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Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland (Season 3, Episode 12). - Photo:  Jackson Lee Davis/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  homeland_312_0322.R Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland (Season 3, Episode 12). - Photo: Jackson Lee Davis/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: homeland_312_0322.R

predictions

What Will Happen Next Season on Homeland?

[This post contains spoilers about last night's Homeland. Here be dragons.] Homeland's third season was, to be kind, divisive. The show that had given us some genre-advancing episodes in its first season was suddenly spinning its wheels, with "twists" that felt like betrayals (so Carrie didn't need to be in a mental hospital?) and additional Dana side stories that were exactly not what the show needed.

And then came last night's finale. (Read our recap here.)

So where does the show go from here? Can Homeland reinvent itself next season? Is there more juice left in the Carrie-Saul relationship? Here are a few possible scenarios of what season four of Homeland might look like.

Brody's death was faked (somehow), and he is on a secret globe-trotting mission to find Carrie and his baby.
Many, many people believe the show had to kill Brody and that it ought to have killed him off at the end of season one. I am not one of those people! Brody was one of the more complicated characters on TV, one with a unique backstory, shifting allegiances, and both a potential for violence and a capacity for compassion. Minus him, Homeland is a show about an unpredictable blonde lady and her weary mentor, and they solve crimes. If I wanted to watch that show, I'd watch CBS. Without Brody, there's not the emotional heft or the sense that any of the CIA proceedings have any personal value or significance. If Brody turns out to be alive, Homeland will lose its lingering credibility with most of its fans — but I, and perhaps I alone, will be psyched.

Carrie is in Turkey, and Saul's in the private sector — but one big case forces them to get the band back together.
This is probably what is going to happen. Brody is indeed dead, and Carrie's baby is living with her father. Saul is off in the private sector, happy as a clam, when Carrie calls him, begging him for his help and expertise. "No, no," he demurs. "This is a young man's game. I am happy now." "Please," she says. "This case is too big for me alone. Only you and your bearded wisdom can help me." Maybe this mission could involve tracking down an Edward Snowden–esque figure, someone whose leaks present a security risk, yes, but whose information also puts the CIA in a bad, bad light. Carrie wants to protect her nation and protect her agency — but some of these revelations are so disturbing that Carrie can't help but relate to the guy on a certain level. (This is where the feelings come in.)

Carrie discovers she does want to parent her child, and so she and Baby Mathison join Saul in the private sector.
Homeland
made a big move by making Carrie pregnant — but if she places her child up for adoption, or simply leaves the baby with her dad, that squanders any possible character development. We know Carrie is someone who has never regarded herself as particularly maternal, so seeing her as a parent (and especially seeing her enjoy or feel enriched by being one) could be an interesting change for the show and for the character. Of course a third of the way through the season, Carrie and Saul's bat phone will ring, and they'll head back to the CIA to help out on something, and Carrie will be torn between her new, less dangerous life of motherhood and her old, more exciting life at the CIA. Lean in, Carrie!

Everyone basically forgets about Brody.
Perhaps there's a time jump of a year or two, and then the show moves forward with Carrie, Saul, and maybe Quinn doing their thing and never talking about Brody again, except maybe wistfully in one episode, where they mention casually how much time has passed.

Carrie remains obsessed with Brody.
While it might make for a better show if Carrie et al try to move on, that's not really true to the character. Carrie will continue to fixate on Brody's execution (how could you not?) and all the ways she could have prevented it, until three quarters of the way through the season, a doleful Saul shows up and gives her the Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting treatment.

Dana becomes an undercover teen CIA agent.
Probably not, since she won't be a regular next season, but let's dare to dream.

Photo: Jackson Lee Davis/Copyright: 2013 Showtime