Well that was unexpected. After an explosively dramatic season with some twists and turns so wild that most critics had to write at least one “this is what Homeland is now” review this season, the show went quiet and small for the season finale. It’s a bold choice. In a lot of ways, it’s the boldest possible choice. But boy, did it ever feel unearned.
The fact of the matter is, with everything that happened this season, from Saul’s kidnapping to the drama surrounding the Ambassador and her husband, to the raid on the embassy that resulted in the death of dozens, we think we can speak for a significant portion of the audience when we say that Carrie’s reunion with her long-lost mother was not even on the list of things we wanted to see in this finale, let alone anywhere near the top of it. The culmination of the Quinn infatuation was expected (even though we didn’t much want that either), but this mama drama came out of left field. Of all the ways to put a cap on everything Carrie’s been through this year, this is what the creators chose?
And what makes this even more annoying is that her father’s death and funeral provided more than enough opportunities for reflection, both on the year she’s had as well as her own illness and what it all means for her going forward. Adding a mother with a bizarre nymphomaniac backstory and a surprise half-brother to the story at this point practically guarantees that wherever the ending is going, it’s not going to satisfactorily address the season that preceded it.
And sure enough, it didn’t. Having shown virtually no feeling toward him and little recognition of the feelings he clearly has for her, Carrie’s suddenly sucking face with Quinn and picking out china. We can buy the impulsiveness of the moment as a reaction to her grief, but when she spent anything longer than ten seconds considering a life with Quinn away from the CIA, it felt like an entirely different character was suddenly being portrayed in front of us. One of the best things about Carrie – and it’s at least partially born out of her bipolar condition – is her keen ability to see through even the densest bullshit and bluntly call it out with excessive force. Quinn is so clearly a mess and so clearly demanding that Carrie put aside all her own plans and fears, not to mention her own grief and the shock of rediscovering her mother, in order to rescue him from his own demons, that we find it extremely hard to believe that she would ever seriously consider his offer. She’s the queen of bad emotional decisions, but none of this really scanned for us.
In addition, we weren’t much feeling that final confrontation with Saul. Again, of all the ways in which their relationship was tested this season, especially the multiple ways in which she lied to him and went against his wishes, it just feels hollow to us that this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back of their relationship.
The only thing that worked – and the one thing that made us believe a quiet finale could have been a great idea – was everything having to do with Carrie’s grief and her father’s funeral. That scene of Quinn, Saul, Carrie and Lockhart drinking whiskey in the back yard out of paper cups and reflecting on recent events with a combination of PTSD and regret could have been the basis for the entire hour, instead of one good brief scene in the middle of a bunch of flat head-scratchers.
This was the season in which Homeland had to prove to its remaining audience that there were still good reasons to hang in there with the show after the death of one of its main characters. And to the surprise of many, they managed to pull it off for a good portion of the season. There were some truly entertaining hours of drama to be found. But whatever relationship the show has with its audience is still a somewhat tentative one, we think. There’s still a sense that a large portion of the current audience is taking the show on and episode-by-episode basis. Something about the cockiness of choosing to do a finale like this at a moment like this in the show’s run strikes us a misfire on the part of the creators. It was a time to pay off the commitment people have shown up till now. It wasn’t really a time to get cute and go sideways. You’re not a show that can do that anymore, Homeland.
[Photo Credit: David Bloomer/Showtime]