Something tells me Carrie and Brody are not about to happily ride off together into the sunset.
That's a guess, not a spoiler; Showtime did not make Sunday's finale of its Emmy-winning hit Homeland (10 ET/PT) available for preview, and no plot points have leaked this way. It just seems highly unlikely, given the past and present of TV's most complexly dysfunctional could-be couple, that something as clear and simple as ever-after romantic bliss is in their future.
Not, at least, as long as there's the real possibility one of them ends up dead. Or in jail. And in that genre-shaking uncertainty, in the very idea that a TV series might kill off one of its two main characters or part with actors as soul-stirringly good as Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, lies part of the greatness of Homeland.
For many viewers, of course, the problem with not knowing where a show is going is not knowing if they'll be happy when it lands. Homeland risks much each week, and part of what it's risking Sunday is disappointment, from those who don't feel they're getting all the answers they want and those who don't like the answers they get.
There are open questions, from how terrorist Abu Nazir entered the country to how much of his plot Brody knew, that may or may not remain open. There are plot points that may or may not pay off, which, by the way, is why you might not want to be too quick to write off some plot you viewed as a failure.
Good writers - and Homeland's Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa are very good writers, indeed - have a habit of planting seeds and harvesting stories when you least expect, in ways you didn't anticipate.
Sunday, we'll see if all those seeds come to fruition, but I already know this: Nothing has happened so far to shake Homeland's status as the best television series of 2012.
Granted, it was not as universally critically acclaimed in its second season as it was in its first, but that's to be expected. Last year's story, with its intricate dance of deception and emotional and political resonance, was nearly impossible to match. Last year kept us guessing as to Brody's motives.
This year dealt with the ramifications of what we, and soon everyone, knew: that Brody was linked to a terrorist cell, a story it was able to explore because it was brave enough to blow Brody's cover early on, rather than repeating the same chase in altered form from the year before.
Because of the focus on using Brody to stop the next terror attack, some have dismissed the show as 24 redux - as if 24 were not a great show on its own, and one that any broadcast network would not be happy to have.
What's missing in that comparison, though, is the way Homeland uses its plot to explore its characters. You'll find few finer dramatic moments this season than Brody and Jessica's sad admission that their marriage is over, or Carrie's early attempt to seduce Brody that left you wondering, not just if she meant it, but if she even knew if she meant it; or just about any step in what seems to be their mutual descent into insanity.
Inevitably in any season, some stories work better than others. No show sped through as much plot as Homeland, and in its rush it may not have always spent the time needed to bridge some credibility gaps. And while Dana's much-derided auto accident no doubt served to compound Brody's problems and speed the fraying of his nerves, the show has probably gotten as much mileage out of teenage angst as it's going to.
We have no way of knowing how this story will end Sunday, though we probably all have our preferences. (An it-was-all-a-shock-therapy dream would not be one of mine.) And until it returns next season, we won't really know where it's heading, which is fine. You're not supposed to know in advance where a great story is going; you're supposed to follow along as the writer takes you there.
Count me in for the ride.