homeland-15-best-momentsIt’s been quite some time since there has been a show filled with as much suspense and action as the critically-acclaimed show, Homeland, which has kept us captivated at every turn. The political espionage, terrorists, CIA, and imperfect characters that stole their ways into our hearts made Homeland the shot heard around the TV-world. Yet, as popular as the show began, it had a snowball effect that collected twice as many loyal followers by its second season.
Now, if you’re anything like me and my family, you marathon-watched both seasons in an incredibly short period of time (what else is Christmas break for?). Why did we feel the need to watch it so quickly when the third season was nine months away? Was it due to the amount of attention it received at the Emmys? Maybe you watched it because it’s Obama’s favorite show? Or perhaps you’re just waiting for Claire Danes’ next ugly-cry-scene. If none of those reasons are accurate, you probably speed-watched two seasons for the same reason I did.
I can honestly say I didn’t plan to shut out the world for a weekend for Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. I expected to watch a couple episodes before bed and then those game-changing moments turned “I’m just watching one more episode tonight” into “How did we watch five episodes already?!” Yep, thank you Showtime. Sleep is not really that important. Upon finishing both seasons, thank you for leaving me shocked and heart-broken on my couch. Really, thanks for this lovely Carrie moment I experienced at the end of season two, realizing I had to wait until September for more.
So, to my fellow Homeland-obsessed-marathoners and loyal viewers, what were those moments that had you freaking out Carrie-Mathison style? What twists had you saying “Just one more, I swear!” even though you swore you were going to bed? Here are the top 15 Homeland moments from both seasons in chronological order that created Homeland pandemonium and kept you sleep deprived.

Starting off Strong – Season 1, Pilot

Homeland’s pilot started off strong when Carrie Mathison, an undercover CIA agent in Iraq, had an informant whisper something important right before his execution. Six months following that mysterious opening, Carrie is back at Langley when Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, presumed dead, has been found after being held and tortured for eight years. This is when we find out that Carrie was told by her informant that “an American prisoner of war has been turned.” She, of course, assumes that this turned POW is Brody. During his debriefing, it is clear that Brody lies about knowing al-Qaeda leader, Abu Nazir. These flashbacks lead us to believe there is a lot more that Brody is hiding. These doubts are multiplied during the closing scene when Brody is running through Washington and staring up at the White House. During this scene, we see that he was not just present during his friend’s beating and death (as he told Walker’s wife) –he was the one that beat him to death.

The Doubts Continue – Season 1, Grace

After the ending of the pilot, I still was not convinced of Brody’s status as a turned POW or a traumatized prisoner. He beat his best friend to death, but we know instinctively that he did not do it willingly. Throughout the episode, we see him traumatized and huddled in a corner, suffering from obvious post-traumatic stress disorder. Once again, I was floored when I saw flashbacks of Brody’s time on the compound with him facing Mecca and engaged in prayer. For the first time, I took a step off the fence onto the ‘turned-POW’ side.

The Hero Card – Season 1, Grace

Once again in episode 2, minutes after the jaw-dropping moment that showed that Brody had converted to Islam, another shocking moment occurred. Throughout episode 2, Grace, Brody was clearly deeply affected and scarred due to his eight years as a prisoner. It is the closing scene of this episode that changes everything. It turns out that common behavior for someone that has been turned, according to Saul, would be playing the “hero role.” By this he means Brody would be out in front of the cameras with a smile on his face and discussing his experiences with the press (which is the exact opposite of what Brody is doing). Until those last few seconds, that is. At the very end of the episode we see a fully dressed Brody on his front stoop and Carrie calling Saul to say, “It’s happening, exactly like you said. He’s out playing the hero card.” You know what I did next? Went straight on to episode three.

He’s Alive – Season 1, The Weekend

There were a lot of twists and turns that led us from episode two to episode seven – Carrie’s contact, Lynne, is killed; Hamid, Brody’s guard while in captivity, is caught, questioned, and commits suicide; Carrie and Brody get it on; and, of course, there’s Brody lying on the polygraph test. As I said, Homeland offered up some major twists that made for riveting TV and no sleep on my part. At this point in season one, there are still doubts and skepticism surrounding Brody’s status as a turned POW. The most shocking moment since Brody’s “hero card” play and discovering he’s Muslim has to be the return of his dead best friend – Paul Walker. Seeing Paul Walker back and clearly stirring up trouble in Washington put me back on the fence in regards to Brody’s innocence.

The Reason Behind the Madness – Season 1, Crossfire

This story was so intricately-woven so as not to paint “good” characters as perfect and “bad” characters as completely evil. The beauty of Homeland exists in the shades of grey that color each of the characters. It is beyond clear at this point that Brody is turned; however, I still had a hard time wanting him caught or dead. I wanted to keep watching in the hopes that Brody could do something to redeem himself. And I wanted Carrie to learn what all beautiful women should learn: never display the ugly cry in public. No matter how well you clean up, that ugly crying jag winds up the one thing people remember about you. We know what our man Brody has been through during his imprisonment and yet we still want to hold onto hope that we have not lost him completely. But then they showed Issa’s death and Walden’s speech indicating that there were no deaths. That was when my heart broke for Brody. This moment was about our side versus their side. We fight to protect our loved ones and so do they. And now Brody’s protective instincts are scattered. While Abu Nazir was not innocent, it shows that one of our own, Vice President Walden, was truly wicked.

Carrie’s Crazy Colors – Season 1, The Vest

This episode was packed with television gold. However, there was one moment in particular that shined brighter than the rest. After being in the hospital for a week, Carrie is completely off-her-rocker due to her lack of meds. She is rambling and making no sense (which I could fully relate to at this point since I should have been in bed hours ago). I was under the impression that she is simply talking crazy. When Brody got her fired, I was shocked, but it was when Saul realized that her color coding made sense that I let out a sigh of relief. Knowing that they are on the trail to finding out about Issa’s death, the drone cover-up, and Brody’s involvement, kept me going. Carrie is unpredictable, scattered, and imperfect, but maybe that is why so many root for her to come out on top. Knowing she wasn’t completely crazy after all was a terrific moment.

Brody is Turned – Season 1, Marine One

Brody’s confession video and subsequent decision not to set off the vest in a room of US dignitaries was riveting, but not exactly unexpected, in my opinion. If he set off the vest, where would the show go from there? When Carrie admits herself into a center for electroshock therapy, we were given one last crazy twist in season one. With the crazy color scheme she created, it was discovered that Issa’s death was a focal point in Abu Nazir’s plans. It isn’t until she is on the electroshock table (which causes short-term memory loss) that Carrie remembers that Brody uttered Issa’s name in his sleep before. There it was! The connection she has been desperately grasping for throughout the entire season…However, it was too little, too late once the treatment began and she had a seizure. That ending made my eyes bug out of my head and reach for the remote to start season two.

The Confession – Season 2, Beirut is Back

I honestly never saw it coming when Saul found Brody’s confession video. It hit me like a high speed train (and by the look on Saul’s face in that moment, it hit him like a ton of bricks, too). Finding out that Brody is, in fact, the terrorist they’ve been looking for completely changed the future of the show. And it is hard to forget the moment in the next episode when Carrie realizes she was right. I felt her relief in that moment.

The End of the Line – Season 2, New Car Smell

In episode four the season made my jaw drop to the floor. I knew they were going to catch Brody eventually, but this early in the season? Who else can Carrie have sex with? I knew Carrie wanted to confront him, I knew she wanted him caught, but wow. I never expected her to confront him face-to-face the way she did. My only thought at that point was “Where is the show going to go from here?” Well, I should have known better because the writers always have a plan.

Face-To-Face – Season 2, I’ll Fly Away

We’ve seen Abu Nazir in flashbacks and through web videos, but this is the first time we see him in the present making contact with Brody. Nazir is the head of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, responsible for turning Brody, and the man behind numerous suicide bombings and attacks against America. The best and most shocking part about seeing Nazir face-to-face in this episode is that we now know he is in the United States and the attack must be imminent. Did anyone else’s hair stand up when seeing this man?

Analyst to Assassin – Season 2, Two Hats

The analyst who had a tendency to be an ass throughout this season, finally shows his true colors. And by doing that, it is also revealed that Estes was also involved in the drone strike that killed so many children. Peter Quinn is an assassin who was hired to kill Brody in order to cover up Estes’s involvement. I love how the writers understand our conflict about who we can hate so they throw us Estes – one guy all viewers can agree upon harboring a deep and profound loathing for.

Capture and Murder – Season 2, Broken Hearts

When Carrie is captured by Abu Nazir, we know nothing good can come from this. With Brody’s family under protection in a safe house, Carrie was Brody’s only weakness and Nazir knew it. What was so shocking about Nazir taking Carrie was when he blackmailed Brody to kill Walden. It was also unsettling to see Brody’s old self come back. In that moment, it became clear that he wanted revenge for Issa. His determination was so strong that it had me wondering whether he would have killed Walden regardless of Carrie’s capture. Didn’t we all think he just needed a good excuse?

No One Mourns the Wicked – Season 2, In Memoriam

Ding, dong, the witch is dead! Wow. Almost two whole seasons led up to this moment. When Abu Nazir surrendered and was killed, it shocked me for two main reasons. First, Nazir has been the face of evil for so long that his death seemed anticlimactic. Second, his death occurred in the second-to-last episode of the season. This instantly indicated that there had to be fireworks saved for the last episode. This put me on edge.

The Confession – Season 2, The Choice

When the bomb went off that killed so many people at Walden’s funeral, we could all see how Nazir’s plan had unfolded. And then Al-Qaeda releasing Brody’s confession video was the cherry on top. Considering Brody and Carrie were supposed to die in the explosion, the video was supposed to make Brody the scapegoat. However, because Brody and Carrie survived, it is clear that Brody’s future is in extreme jeopardy for next season. Arm yourself with lemon butter and run. Run, Brody, run!

The Devastation – Season 2, The Choice

The last scene that displays the massive devastation that occurred at Langley due to the bomb is heartbreaking. That one explosion led to so many turns in this plot that I cannot begin to predict what is coming in season 3. With Estes dead, Saul is no longer going to be run out of the CIA. In fact, he will currently be running the CIA due to his seniority. Considering Carrie did not run, she’s going to have some ‘splaining to do regarding her survival. And then there’s Brody. He’ll be on the run until Carrie can clear his name. If Brody’s road to his innocence is anything like Carrie’s road to convincing others he was a terrorist, it’s going to be a twisted ride.

We can predict and wonder all we want, but it isn’t until September 29th that we will find ourselves absorbed by terrorists and see what Homeland has in store for Carrie, Brody, and Saul. Will Carrie have phone sex with Brody? Will Carrie and Saul remain friends . . . or perhaps become lovers? Will the writers address the burning question, “who will Carrie have sex with?” If you’re like me, you can’t wait for more crazy plot twists and, of course, the Claire Danes ugly cry. Until then, take a look at season 3’s promo video to get you through.
What do you think of my top 15 game changing moments? Did I miss anything that you think should be included? Let me know!

Kathryn is guest writer on behalf of Dish Systems as well as a serial, serious, series watcher that enjoys sharing her unsolicited opinions.