Homeland season six finale recap – America First

With assassins, attacks and dozens of shock arrests, the American civil war comes to a head in a tumultuous, emotional finale

Spoiler alert: this blog is published after Homeland airs in the US. Only read on if you’ve watched the series six finale, which airs in the UK on Sundays. Catch up on the episode 11 recap here.

Peter Quinn was the fairest of them all – ruthless assassin, “hell of a warrior” and now American martyr. His suicide drive into a hail of bullets to save the President-elect gained him both immortality and the peace he has sought ever since the sarin gas reduced him to a broken shell of himself back in Berlin. The show bringing him back from the brink will always be controversial. It felt like a weak decision at the time, but in mitigation we did get some flashes of badass Quinn this year and some good moments of emotional closure from those closest to him. He may have died hating himself, but he knew he was loved.

“Should we end all this unpleasantness?”

As Senator Coto shivers in his pants in the freezer of an upscale Manhattan restaurant, he has a moment to ponder the wisdom of playing with Dar Adal. Treasonous conspirator he may be, but he breaks quickly enough and gives up General McClendon. The conspiracy’s fatal error was underestimating Dar’s personal attachment to Peter Quinn. As wrong and twisted as it has always been, it is real and you ignore it at your peril. Dar has just enough time to warn Carrie not to let Elizabeth leave the hotel. The act ultimately saves Keane’s life and condemns him to die in prison. One day he will allow himself a sardonic chuckle at the irony.

“You’re a bad dream – a President of the United States who can’t be controlled from within.”

Elizabeth offers Carrie the greatest honour of her career.
Elizabeth offers Carrie the greatest honour of her career. Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

You can’t go to war with your national security establishment – that’s been the one unshakeable certainty throughout this season. Elizabeth Keane not only fought that war, she won. Her would-be assassins are in jail and the rest of the intelligence community are scurrying like rats to avoid the backlash. Her journey from Gold Star Mom to Iron Lady is complete.

The question now becomes, what has she lost along the way? Her supporters voted for a new kind of politics – an extension of the powers of the Patriot Act is not what they had in mind. That’s exactly what the outgoing president demanded right after Sekou Bah’s van blew up in New York. As a desperately protesting Carrie is escorted from the Oval Office, the implication is that power will always corrupt.

Are we buying this? Let’s look at the national security establishment’s track record in the Homeland universe. They allowed a suicide bomber into the White House, had a Russian mole running their Berlin station, let a car bomb flatten their own headquarters, killing over 200, and orchestrated a failed military coup against the President. If anyone has earned a purge, it’s them. Dar Adal may well think there was always “something off” about Elizabeth and we are clearly being encouraged to agree but a few detentions six weeks after an assassination attempt? They are getting off lightly.

“No, I wasn’t aware we were about to go full-on Joe Stalin”

Carrie spends the first half of the episode shielding the President-elect from her would-be assassins and the second half dealing with the aftermath of the attack. Six weeks pass and after the first ever inauguration held behind closed doors, Brett O’Keeffe rails impotently against the new president. Sixty government officials are now in military prison, the powers of the Patriot Act have been extended and O’Keeffe’s troll army are nowhere to be seen.

Carrie acts as liaison to the special snowflakes of the intelligence community who, with a heroic lack of self-awareness, complain that their rights are being violated. Carrie assures them there will be no purges, no enemies lists under this administration. She can say that now because she’s about to be part of it. Elizabeth offers her the role of Senior Advisor to the President with her own office in the West Wing. It’s the greatest honour of her career. It makes the dozens of arrests of government officials, including Saul, that come swiftly afterwards even more baffling. As a stone-faced Elizabeth cold-shoulders her, Carrie is left wondering if this is a woman she wants to work for.

Notes and observations

Will poor Carrie regain custody of Franny?
Will poor Carrie regain custody of Franny? Photograph: 20th Century Fox/JoJo Whilden/Showtime

I’m not sure if I want to eat in Dar Adal’s favourite restaurant if they are routinely conducting enhanced interrogations in the freezer. The potential for cross contamination is alarming.

The most stressful part of the episode turned out not to be the assassination attempt on Elizabeth but Carrie’s final inspection by child services as we waited for drunk Max to lurch out of the basement and puke in Christine’s lap. Mercifully, it never happened and all indications are Carrie will regain custody of Franny.

It takes a while for grief to hit Carrie properly but going through Quinn’s photos sets the lip trembling and the signature cry face kicks in. The photo of his son John Jr reminds us that Quinn was once called John. The photo of Carrie reminds us that she was ultimately the most important woman in his life.

“Believe me, it was never my intention for things to turn so dark.” Dar does his best to explain to Saul. The way he tells it, things just got a bit out of hand – a bit of banter among the chaps, a few of the lighter treasons and all of a sudden you’re staging a military coup.

Quinn was first seen with Great Expectations in season two. Are we to conclude that Dar Adal was his Magwitch?

Final thoughts on the season

A slow start left many of us wondering if the whole Homeland project had any life left in it. Once it kicked into gear with the framing and murder of Sekou Bah, it turned into the powerful compelling show it always is at its best. The state-within-a-state conspiring against the elected president was provocative and timely. When we were first introduced to the Office of Policy Coordinations and its weird war room of sock puppet trolls it was genuinely chilling. The “massive domestic propaganda machine” was somehow more disturbing than any Al-Qaida cell or rogue government operative. The show puts a huge amount of effort into being relevant to current world events and in that, it excelled. As long as it keeps doing that, Homeland has a reason to exist. It may even be necessary.

How did the finale work for you? Where do you rank this season among all the others? Are you still on Team Keane or do you think she’s gone to the dark side? Please let me know below.


James Donaghy

The GuardianTramp

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