Is he dead? – Elizabeth Keane
Yeah. – Carrie Mathison
He saved our lives. – Elizabeth Keane
Yeah. – Carrie Mathison
What was his name? – Elizabeth Keane
Peter Quinn – Carrie Mathison
Admittedly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this season of Homeland, but if you read my reviews from the premiere through the penultimate, you had to notice I increasingly warmed up to the story and found myself intrigued going into last night’s finale. I cared about last night’s episode, and after the credits rolled, I still did. Several weeks ago, that was unlikely. That shift represents a success for the writers, as the season started very slow, seemed to push a clear agenda, and was wasting time with Peter Quinn.
As we stand today, having seen how things wrapped up, I would say the season finished with action, ended up not wasting time with Quinn and effectively ended his run in strong form, but certainly continued to push an agenda. It’s a paradigm many critics will love, because they won’t see just how partisan it truly was. It’s hard to notice something when you agree with it, because it seems normal and unremarkable. What we really saw was the equivalent of an alt-right Trump voter mad enough to assassinate a liberal President-Elect, and one that also happened to be a woman. Now, the season’s production and shooting schedule didn’t end until March, so it wasn’t all done ahead of time. But, as with a few other series’ out there, the clear indication was a creative team believed we would have a female occupant in the Oval Office, and it would be the far right that would be on the streets, irate and wanting a fight.
I’m not even mad about it, because it was a reasonable position to hold, and I certainly assumed Hillary was going to win in the weeks leading up to the November election as well. I read the polls, I listened to the pundits, and like most, I ended up wrong. My critique of the way in which the season was approached, however, remains the same. I’m disappointed Homeland didn’t portray moderate conservatives, or Republicans who would despise a man like Brett O’Keefe and everything he stood for. It’s as if the series wanted its audience to see nothing but Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity. That was a misguided manner in which to depict the right. While the loudest voices today are certainly the alt-Righters, via sock puppets, fake accounts, and widespread prejudice on social media, let’s not forget that MOST of the country still falls somewhere in the middle.
Far more people cast votes for Donald Trump because he was “our candidate” than “my candidate.” They voted for the red over the blue, as they thought that was the only option to avoid a Clinton administration. I understood those that did, though I couldn’t do the same. But, that majority is made up of Americans that would find Alex Jones repulsive, rather than someone to listen to on any imaginable issue. Homeland didn’t show us those folks. It was the “Not my President” violent, rage-filled alt-Right activists. It was a small group within the government, with military ties, that were ready to kill the President because they believed she was dangerous, but couldn’t sell that to the public during the election.
Thus, I couldn’t buy into that narrative, which meant I was watching a television show for the people, rather than the ideas. And that’s fine. So let’s talk about those people. Peter Quinn, who I have said repeatedly should have been killed off last year, became more and more compelling, and when he gave his life to save Keane and Carrie last night, I felt real sorrow for him. Of everyone on the show, Peter Quinn was the one most a slave to duty and honor, but in the late scene with Carrie discovering “Great Expectations” and the photos, we saw what this man cared about. Like many in that field, their risks are unconscionably large, and the rewards often simple. If you survive, you have this to look forward to, whether as a son, a brother, a father, a mother, a wife, a husband, or a friend. It’s all about the relationships we cultivate in this world.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve cared much less about things and much more about individuals and connections. It’s the desire for that Jerry Maguire completion that keeps our hearts beating and keeps us breathing. Once we find it, we’ll do nearly anything to preserve it, because nothing is more precious.
Quinn didn’t have many friends, as his work made it an impossibility. But, those he did cherish, he did so with fervor and, in the end, at his own peril. Never would he allow Carrie to die if he could take the bullet for himself. His respect for the office of President led to saving Keane, as did a likely death wish. His life would not be the same, regardless of what happened in the SUV. Was there a chance at romance for Peter and Carrie? Sure, as both had a major affinity for one another, but it usually felt more like brother and sister, but with the potential for sex as there was no relation between the two. She took care of him, after making a mistake. His mind betrayed him, but the one thing he never forgot was how much he cared for her and Frannie.
It also gave me pause to stop and consider how many Peter Quinns I’ve never heard about in this world. How many men and women have gone through what he did, sacrificed a traditional existence, and still been willing to pay the ultimate price for the proper reasons. While he was a television character, and a flawed one at that, what he represents should be much greater to the audience, because as I received correspondence from military personnel, to a person they defended the realism of that portrayal. How many “Quinns” have kept me and those I care about alive at their own expense? God bless these men and women. God bless their families. He was damaged, at times deranged due to circumstance, but he was a hero. In the end, his heart was in the right place.
Last week, Quinn was a complete mess, as he and Carrie had the conversation those two characters needed to have before he could exit the series. Rupert Friend did outstanding work on Homeland, but it was time for him to go. We’ll discuss what it leads to in just a moment, but first we need to talk about the other guy that had a weird affection for Quinn, Dar Adal. Dar isn’t dead, but he’s locked up as part of Keane’s reaction to the assassination attempt and the conspiracy that led to her kill zone experience with Mathison in the elevator. Adal came clean in the awkward sit down with Saul, where he said he knows he did wrong, but wasn’t convinced he was wrong in his motivations or his thoughts about Keane. What we would see with the arrests in the season’s final seconds would add at least some semblance of credence to that claim. Or, at least it would assist in backing up parts of the statement.
The Elizabeth Keane we know is one that reacts poorly and emotionally to personal matters. Her initial moves after Andrew was used as part of the smear campaign were ill-conceived, and her overall feelings on international involvement, Iran, nation-building, and the like were based on what happened to her family, much more than anything else. Think back to the conversation with the voter that drove her away from the house and took her back into New York. She hadn’t even considered that woman’s argument before that chat, because her entire structure was based on Andrew Keane. Thus, when she went through hell and barely escaped, her war on the intelligence community and the executive overreach that followed the assassination attempt all fit the character as we’ve come to understand it.
Of all the Keane decisions, it was the act of putting Saul Berenson into custody that was done to provoke us just before the season concluded, but that was the secondary reason. The most important rationale for that scene was to put Carrie Mathison at odds for GOOD with the new administration and the federal apparatus as a whole. I said several weeks ago Homeland could come full-circle by turning Carrie into the same person Brody was when he returned home for the first time. That regardless of where both found themselves, Carrie has lost more and more respect for the government, for her own job, for her superiors, and for authority as a whole. She was fighting at first for Sekou Bah when he seemed much more nefarious than he turned out to be. She was already walking away from Washington, rather than towards it. If she ended up completely anti-American, would it be that much of a leap at this point?
What has her loyalty gotten her? She’s still trying to regain custody of her daughter, and the reason she can’t hug Frannie right now is because of Dar Adal’s intervention to put pressure on her to stop assisting Keane. She’s seen the man she loves die, and the other man she might have loved in a similar way die as well. Her relationship with Saul goes from trustworthy to frosty at a moment’s notice. She has virtually no friends, with the exception of Max, who is a few steps from being Peter Quinn on the mentally unstable scale, at least when he’s drinking. She’s seen colleagues jailed, tortured, and murdered, and after telling the new President a permanent advisory position would be the greatest honor of her career, she finds out she’s been used to reassure people that would be arrested days later. Those are just a few of six seasons worth of examples. Where is her faith at this stage in the game? It’s with less than five people, and one that isn’t even close to ten years old.
When she stares at the Capitol from the park, her eyes tell the story. She sees Washington D.C. as a heaving slime bucket, filled with backroom deals and the most untrustworthy individuals anywhere, willing to destroy lives and still sleep at night after the carnage. Where she falls as Season 7 begins will tell us a great deal about the end game of the series. I don’t see Homeland telling a redemption story about the federal government, as the tone has been cynical from the jump, and it’s only grown with each passing season. Keane was not shown as a hero in the finale. She behaved as most would during the assassination sequence, but everything she did afterward was done more for self-preservation and vengeance, rather than any security and societal benefit.
Does she become a full-on villain next year, and if so, who rises up to challenge her? Brett O’Keefe is still on the air, as we thought he might be, because guys like O’Keefe walk between the raindrops, even if they created the storm clouds they’re now dodging. In fact, that’s often the objective in the first place. Bring it all down, but avoid the rubble. However, she’ll always be more likable than him, even if she draws and quarters Saul on national television. So, someone else will arise, and that person may bring Carrie back into the mix in a major way.
What we’re relatively sure of is this story continues, and the current direction should take us to the last days of Homeland. Two months ago, I’d have hoped this was the end. Now, I’m actually interested to see what’s next. The back-half of the season was strong, filled with drama, and paced well, even if credulity and balance created problems. The acting was solid down the stretch, and we saw some major events, including the deaths of both Astrid and Peter Quinn, the incarceration of Dar Adal, the arrest of Saul Berenson, and a woman without a country in Carrie Mathison. It was a very good finish to the season. I didn’t think we’d see it end quite as neatly as it did, with resolution on what needed to conclude, but with open endings to other crucial parts of the show.
We’re left wondering what happened to Saul, where Carrie went after the park, to whom she might reach out that we haven’t seen in a while, and whether Max stayed out of the liquor store. Questions are left to be answered, but we got some answers. That’s a good recipe for a finale. Homeland brought the tension to a boil and then released it, but did so in somber fashion with Quinn’s death. Then, we saw the aftermath of a polarized time, but without any closure. The producers have said Season 7 and 8 will end the run, and will work as one congruent story, so we could see big changes, although it’s hard to imagine any lasting incompatibility with Season 6.
I was more impressed with the finale than I expected, and while it’s still highly unlikely to crack my Top Ten for the year or even reach honorable mention status, the series proved still to have some bullets in the chamber. The early stages were slow to develop and plodded along in a less than ideal fashion, but Homeland showcased its worth in the stretch run. In totality, last night provided a satisfying, emotional ending to an uneven, back loaded season. But, looking back on it after the fact, it also concluded and paid off a respectable slow burn and a surprisingly entertaining season.
I’m @JMartOutkick. Apple’s with me.