SPOILER ALERT: This story contains details of tonight’s season finale of Homeland.
Since it helped cement Showtime as a top destination for original programming, Homeland ‘s trademark has been to serve up unbelievable, stunning season finales. If there is a spoiler alert to deliver about tonight’s season finale, it’s this: so little happens that it isn’t clear the writers knew it was the last show. Or that they owed us some resolution, maybe even some payback, at the expense of Haissam Haqqani, the Bin Laden-like lanky terrorist who gunned down 36 Americans in the embassy in Islamabad. He remained alive in the last episode only because Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) parked herself in the path of an ingenious bombing plan carried out by Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), a dumb move that thwarted Quinn’s Man On Fire campaign that would have left bits of terrorist all over the place.
After screwing up Quinn’s good plan, Carrie nearly did in Haqqani (Numan Acar) herself with a handgun, before being stopped by Aasar Khan (Raza Jeffrey), the dashing Pakistani military man who showed her that Haqqani’s car mate was none other than shadowy spook Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham). Another example of how confounding our bipolar heroine Carrie Mathison can be. She can be a hard one to love, our Carrie.
Everybody’s back home as the Meredith Stiehm-scripted and Lesli Linka Glatter-directed episode begins. They lick the wounds from a terror attack that violently claimed the life of Fara Sherazi (Nazanin Boniadi, who days before her demise booked the female lead in the MGM/Paramount Ben-Hur remake opposite Jack Huston, who was killed off Boardwalk Empire) and to mourn the death of Carrie’s father, Frank Mathison. He was played by the late actor James Rebhorn, to whom the episode was dedicated.
Carrie reunites with Quinn, and they contemplate a life together, away from the backstabbing, dangerous espionage games that dominate their lives and leave little room for anything else. While they do that, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), the former CIA head, wants back in, “to make things right.” Those chances seem doomed by the existence of a hostage tape made by Haqqani, though it’s not clear why that would hurt him, or why the video hasn’t surfaced. It appears that Saul is willing to make a Faustian bargain with Dar Adal (whose relationship with Haqqani led him to have the only copy of the hostage tape), much to Carrie’s shock (does she not know that virtuous Saul always does the right thing in the end?).
Carrie’s long, dull grief spiral is compounded by the return of her long lost mother. After kicking her out, Carrie makes a pilgrimage in the car to Missouri, I think, where mom tells her she was basically a slut who couldn’t bring herself to be in touch with her family and found salvation in a son, Carrie’s half-brother. By the time Carrie is done heaping guilt on absentee mom (whom Carrie hates because she sees herself in her mother and was pulling the same disappearing act with her own daughter), our patience is worn, and the episode is nearly done. Quinn, perhaps as chagrined as I was watching, didn’t wait for her after being coerced by another assassin to join in a dangerous covert mission; he is already on the way to Syria or Iraq by the time Carrie learns this from Adal, who responds to a threat Carrie will expose his treasonous car ride to the Washington Post by showing her that Saul is in his backyard and that they are making plans. And that’s about it.
This was a disappointing close to a powerful season that put Homeland back on its spy vs spy track, and away from the demise of Brodie, the POW turned almost Muslim terrorist with whom Mathison had a lovely little redheaded daughter. The season included Carrie seducing Haqqani’s doctor-in-training nephew, which got a little creepy because he was so young and inexperienced and disposable, before Haqqani murdered him. Get ready for a long sit, and try to remember how good the rest of this season was, before throwing something at the telly.