“Let’s face it: not every choice we make is blessed with moral clarity.”
After three months of wonderful buildup, Homeland closes its season with a meandering finale that focuses on the worst aspect of the show: Carrie’s problems at home. Now, don’t get me wrong; that was fairly well handled early on in the show, but recently, it has become extremely derivative and grating. To close out such an exciting and compelling season like this is disappointing, to say the least.
I have nothing against a more contemplative finale, but “Long Time Coming” reeks of dramatic manipulation. I’ve written countless times this year about season 4’s exploration of consequences–psychological, emotional, physical–so it might seem like a good idea at first to really delve into that idea with your main character; however, introducing new characters solely to beat Carrie down a bit more is simply lazy. The show handled the personal side of things perfectly over the last few weeks, bringing it in at very specific points in order to clash with the action in Islamabad–e.g. Carrie’s call with Mira, Carrie’s Skype message with Maggie–but when the show completely jumps into the ‘personal’ ring here, it flounders.
I get what the writers are trying to show here: the emotional fallout back home, the desire for normalcy (Quinn states that it feels good to have a “normal life”) and happiness, the inevitable pull back into the fold. I get that we’re seeing how not only does betrayal and loss find Carrie in Islamabad, but also at home, how her own family and Quinn and Saul have essentially left her, how she’s truly on her own as she’s taking that drive at the end of the episode. What I don’t get, however, is why it had to wait till the finale for everything to be shoved at us.
I won’t deny, however, that there are some interesting tidbits and themes explored throughout. For example, Carrie learning about why her mother really left is a big moment for her and her approach to relationships, and she says later on that she “always thought that being bipolar meant [she] couldn’t be with people”. It’s especially gut-wrenching for her in an episode in which everyone seems to leave her, in an episode in which she finally seems to connect with Quinn–“You know my shit, but you don’t have my condition”–and with Frannie. Now, she sees that she can be with someone and maybe not mess it up as she’s always anticipated, but it’s right at this moment that she is alone (even ideologically).
The finale also deals with the idea of leaving and staying: early on, Billy–Frank’s park friend–tells Carrie that her father was sure she’d “come back for [Frannie]”, and later, Carrie asserts to her sister that she “was always coming back”, that she “had reasons”, that it was all “too much” to handle. It seems like this life is simply an endless cycle of escaping, leaving, returning, and suffering, and as much as she may seem comfortable with Frannie in this episode, we know that it won’t last. We know that the world has screwed her over more times than she can count, and it’s simply what happens. “We have to see events for what they are,” Dar Adal mentions near the end of the episode.
So, in the end, our characters are pulled back into the cycle, pulled back into the spy world that they only just left. Quinn tells Carrie that he “wants to get out and stay out” and that “Islamabad was a black hole”, but when all is said and done, he’s on a mission to Iraq that could very well kill him. Saul tells Mira that he “wants back in” and that he “wants to make this right”, and he eventually joins up with Dar Adal. And finally, in what is perhaps the most damning indictment of our nation’s policies, it’s revealed that Adal made a deal with Haqqani: he’ll agree to take Haqqani’s name of the kill list for a commitment not to harbor terrorists in Afghanistan. After a season of death and destruction started by both Haqqani and the U.S. government, it’s only fitting that the two would end up in bed together. Saul calls the conversation between him and Adal “sedition”, but Adal calmly responds by stating that they “are the men of no man’s land”. As he says, self interest drives all.
When Carrie finds out about this, she seeks out Dar Adal, angrily spewing out: “If you make a deal, then you dishonor everyone who died!” That, sadly, is the way it is, and there will be consequences and victims no matter where they turn. Honor and moral clarity were lost a while back, and like it was emphasized earlier in the season, there doesn’t seem to be any right choice here. In the end, you simply have to keep going, and it’s very hard to stop.
SEASON GRADE: B+
-Is Tim just Chris Brody in disguise?
-Great. Next thing you know, Carrie’s going to be making out with Lockhart.
-I heard that there might’ve been a last second change for this episode. There were apparently some contractual issues with Rupert Friend (Quinn), so that might explain the fairly awkward ending. I guess it’s up in the air right now whether he’s returning?
-Mediocre writing here, but Claire Danes is still Claire Danes, so she elevates the script.
-No Aasar Khan? What about some more Tasneem scenes? Or more for Lockhart?
-That’s it for me this year. From around episode 6 on, we witnessed the best stretch of Homeland episodes since early season 2, and although I’m disappointed with the finale, I’ll acknowledge the vast improvements made by the show this year. At the very least, the episode sets up intriguing storylines for season 5, so we’ll see where that takes us next fall. Thanks for reading! Any predictions? What do you want to see next year?
Photo credit: Showtime, Homeland