Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Claire Danes
Claire Danes
Photo: Sifeddine Elamine (Showtime)
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Much of this final season of Homeland has lacked a certain...well, finality is probably the best word for it. For the most part, this feels like another chapter in the life of Carrie Mathison, consistent with what has gone before but not especially monumental. I’ve questioned the decision to bring back characters like Haissam Haqqani and Tasneem Qureshi from a earlier season that wasn’t especially beloved, but this week that decision starts to make a little more sense.

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Having turned himself in to the Americans, Haqqani achieves his immediate goal of getting the Taliban prisoners released from the soccer stadium. His long-term fate looks more questionable as Saul turns him over to G’ulom. Saul puts on his diplomat hat, trying to convince G’ulom that giving Haqqani a fair trial is the only way to walk forward together into a more peaceful world. But it’s not for nothing that Saul was Carrie’s mentor; he can sneak around the authorities and go rogue as well as she can. He conducts a teleconference with Wellington and a few trusted advisors, learning that one of the members of the three-judge panel might be open to receiving classified evidence that can’t be presented in open court. President Hayes busts the meeting and makes it clear he has no interest in helping exonerate the man he believes responsible for Warner’s death.

Saul is forced to turn to unlikely allies to pull off his plan: “Bunny” Latif and Tasneem, who only a few episodes ago was trying to rain death down on Haqqani. Saul calls on his longtime friendship with Bunny, who points out that the U.S. is always a great friend when it needs something, but otherwise tends to be the biggest bully on the block. Saul is ready to give up, but Tasneem has either seen enough bloodshed or is playing five-dimensional chess with an endgame not yet in sight; either way, she and Saul are able to convince the judge to stay Haqqani’s trial for a week while they put together more evidence.

Sam Trammell
Sam Trammell
Photo: Sifeddine Elamine (Showtime)

Their plan might even work, if not for the fact that G’ulom has already wormed his way deep into the new U.S. president’s head. The easily manipulated Hayes sees it in black-and-white terms: he believes Haqqani responsible for his predecessor’s death and has no interest in a fair trial. Only an eye for an eye will do. (If you see a bit of Cheney-Dubya in the G’ulom-Hayes relationship, you are not alone.) G’ulom even makes an appearance at Warner’s funeral, much to the widow Warner’s dismay. Despite Hayes’ chest-thumping about bringing the former president’s body home for burial, she’s figured out what we already know: there’s no body to bring back because Hayes dropped a bomb on it. And when the judges take the stand at Haqqani’s trial, it becomes all too clear to Saul that the fix is in. The judge he spoke with has been replaced, and an immediate death sentence falls on Haqqani.

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Carrie to the rescue one more time? Her quest to save Max brings her face to face with her past when Yevgeny stops to consult his informants in a village greatly impacted by Carrie in the past—and not for the better, as she discovers when she goes for a walk and ends up in a cemetery full of headstones all bearing the same date of death. Once upon a time Haqqani was the enemy and Carrie had him in her sights—except he got away and she ended up giving the go-ahead to the bombing of a wedding party.

And suddenly this does feel like a final season in the making. Things are coming full circle. If Carrie’s order had not ended up devastating this area, Yevgeny would not have been able to provide help rebuilding it while cultivating the assets that now lead them to the Taliban farm where Max is being held. But if Carrie had been successful in that long-ago strike, would Haqqani’s successor have been receptive to the peace talks that brought Warner to Afghanistan in the first place? Would a U.S. victory now be years in the rear view mirror? It’s impossible to know, just as it’s impossible not to feel the weight of all of Carrie’s actions in Claire Danes’ emotionally distressed performance at the cemetery. She may have felt the human cost in some abstract way when the attack happened years ago, but now it’s inescapable. Is it a misguided sense of trying to balance the scales that prompts Carrie’s suicide mission into the Taliban camp as Max is forced into an orange jumpsuit with a camera trained on him? Thanks to Yevgeny’s intervention, Max’s fate—and the episode’s end—is a cliffhanger.

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Stray observations

  • Poor Max is really getting the Quinn treatment here lately. His days as a good-luck charm are long behind him.
  • Somehow Jenna still has a job. Has there been a moment yet where she hasn’t been completely useless? Not that Dunne is much better.
  • “He deserves a thousand deaths, but this court can only give him one.” Yeah, that’s not what you want to hear from a presiding judge in your trial.
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My debut novel Charlesgate Confidential is now available from Hard Case Crime.

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