Homeland: We have met the enemy and he is us

Did they purposely make Carrie unlikable all season—narcissistic, careless with the lives of others (including her kid), recklessly “running around like a crazed vigilante” according to Saul—only to give her a terrible comeuppance so we can feel bad about hating her?

Um, maybe.

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“Paean to the People”, the season finale opens with Carrie in Simone drag. Anson is driving her to the the Embassy. We learn that the wig exchange was always part of the plan, but the ambush at the dacha, not so much. Meanwhile, No-Longer-President (Temporarily) Elizabeth I is still hanging somewhere in the White House with David watching TV, when the VP who’s temporarily President and also Beau Bridges comes upon them like a parent checking in on the unruly kids who’ve been grounded, to ask what’s up with Russia.

Elizabeth explains that Simone is alive and Saul has gone to get her, but obviously something has gone wrong, hence all that footage of trouble at the GRU. The VP is a little miffed about not being read in on this. These two! President Elizabeth I tells him he better not mess it up. He asks why on earth he would mess up an important operation like that, and Elizabeth reminds him how he stabbed her in the back.

Anyone else just a wee bit offended by how the writers have made the first female president into kind of a harpy? A battleaxe? Somebody’s mother-in-law in an old timey sitcom?

Admit it. You’d like to send Elizabeth to the moon.

Carrie and Anson are soon locked in by Russians looking for Simone. Carrie communicates with Max over those super secure comps. He tells her Simone made it to the Embassy but isn’t out of the country yet, so Carrie makes a run for it to buy time for Saul to get Simone out. Anson does his best Peter Quinn, giving the audience PTSD, as he smashes the car into the guys coming for them to buy her some time.

Saul gets the message that Simone has arrived at the embassy, so it’s go time. He’s still meeting with Mirov, and tells him he’s just been recalled on account of the new president, so bye. Saul goes to the Embassy where he gives Simone his best judgment of God look. They all have to get to the plane like in Casablanca before the Nazis Russians realize what’s going on. Then Mirov gets the call from Yevgeny that Simone got away, so Mirov stands in front of Saul’s car telling Saul that everyone has to get out.

Saul tries delaying, telling Mirov that he’s making a fool of himself, but then Yevgeny calls again telling Mirov that they’re tracking Simone, so Mirov thinks she’s not with Saul and lets the car go. And there’s an awkward handshake.

“Is Russian way of saying good-bye. Vodka shots used to be Russian way, but now just stop car and shake hands.”

Over at the future home of Crossfit where Max and Sandra are still saving the world, Sandra notices that Clint’s phone is buzzing a lot, and she confronts him. Clint caves immediately because Saul did a pretty terrible job of vetting him, and he tells her about the mean lady who threatened to throw him in jail. Clint is very sorry for almost blowing the operation and getting a guy killed. Sandra doesn’t beat the crap out of him like what Carrie might have done, but Max takes the battery out of his phone, and they’re going to be watching!

Sandra didn’t trust him since the first time they met when he came out of the bathroom without washing his hands.

Saul and company arrive at the airfield, and hand over their passports, including Simone’s “Carrie Mathison” passport. Did Carrie use that same picture of Carrie coming in? Who wants to go back an episode and check? They get to stay in their vehicle because they’re diplomats traveling on a private plane. Simone listens to Saul who’s on the comp, and is shocked that the team would just leave Carrie in Russia. Saul doesn’t at this point kick her out of the car because he still needs her, but you know he wants to.

Carrie has run into the subway station, at one point throwing the red scarf on a random brunette who gets toppled by Yevgeny’s crew. She could have gotten the poor women killed, but whatevs. She runs into a closed but not locked restaurant stall, for more hide and seek.

Meantime, the guard at the airport has run the passports through his machine. No problem with Carrie’s, but one of Carrie’s boys is flagged as being wanted for murder at the dacha, and the guard won’t let them go despite Saul’s yelling about diplomatic immunity. Saul calls Acting President Warner for help. Warner asks him if the mission was a success. Saul is momentarily confused and you can see the wheels turning: What does he know? And whose side is he on? After a pause, Saul tells him the mission was a success but if the situation doesn’t resolve soon, it won’t be. Warner tells him he’ll call him back, which is not very reassuring except that Beau Bridges radiates goodness and common sense, so the suspense is somewhat undercut.

Warner is in the Oval Office with Paley, who’s trying to persuade him that if Simone returns he’ll be back opening up state fairs, and the wrath of President Elizabeth I will know no bounds, so lets all go all in with Russia, and by the way, the Russian Ambassador is just outside the door and would like a word.

Might be a little suspense here if they’d cast the other fabulous Baker boy.

More Carrie hiding under a table and whispering to Max, who tells her they still haven’t boarded the plane. Looks like a little girl might have just given her up to the cops. Carrie takes out her gun ready to shoot it out. Yevgeny has arrived on scene. Even a skeptic who’s still really angry that they killed Peter Quinn will have to concede this is a nail biting, well-directed sequence.

Warner officially declares himself on the side of the angels and tells the Ambassador that either Saul and company get on that plane or he’s going to start detaining Russian diplomats, starting with him, and also Senator Paley needs to get the fuck out of the White House. Well, thank goodness they finally got the White House back in the hands of a reliable old white guy!

Max gives Carrie some good news. Anson made it back to the Embassy, and they’re letting them board the plane. The men drag Carrie out of where she was hiding. Yevgeny sees it’s Carrie and he punches her, but she turns to him from the ground, and she’s got a big smirk on her face.

We see the plane taking off, but seriously, wouldn’t they just shoot it down or something? The Russians are not Clint of Dartmouth.

But never mind that. There’s shot of Saul looking a little guilty maybe for leaving Carrie behind.

This wouldn’t be a Homeland season finale without a time jump, and so we fade in on “3 days later.” Simone testifies before Congress and all the world. Over at the future home of Crossfit, Max, Sandra, Anson, and the rest of Carrie’s boys, as well as Clint who hasn’t been sent to Guantanamo, are all watching. Saul arrives with the about to be reinstated President Elizabeth I who thanks them all for doing such a spectacular job of saving democracy, which we almost lost on account of her Chief of Staff sleeping with a Russian GRU captain. Keane tells them she’s going to do everything in her power to get Carrie back. Given how effective she’s been, does that mean Carrie is dead?

They saved the world (except for second from right).

In other news, Paley has been arrested for conspiring with a foreign power, and Janet has flipped on him. Also, sanctions against Russia. Yay, hurrah! America wins bigly in Homelandia!

Carrie meantime is in Russian jail, where she has a nice personal attendant/guard who brings her books to help her pass the time, but then Yevgeny tries to get her to film a statement saying it was all lies and more lies. Carrie points out that really won’t work since it would obviously be coerced, but Yevgeny tells her it would plant the “seed of doubt”, and if she doesn’t do it, no more beach reading, and no meds!

President Elizabeth I is about to be sworn in again. Will there be another reign of terror? Not clear. Has she learned anything? Well, she knows the oath of office by heart, and can’t wait to say it again.

Carrie tries to get her personal attendant to bring her meds in return for the sexy time. Do they not have pussy in Russia? But strangely enough, this seems to work, and she’s brought a pill with dinner.

President Elizabeth I and David meet with VP (again) Warner, the guy who saved America and her presidency. He rightly explains that maybe now would be a good time to build some bridges and bring Congress in for the sanctions against Russia and other stuff. David thinks this is a swell idea, but Elizabeth doesn’t seem convinced and says, “Lemme think about it” in a way that implies she is not going to think about it, at all, ever.

What is she thinking about? Seeing Paley and spitting on him, which she does even though he’s whimpering like a kidnap victim as he names his wife and kids to try to make himself seem more human to his captor.

Saul meets with the Russian Ambassador and offers him three prime “catches” in exchange for Carrie. The Ambassador wants some guy named Goren, and if any fans remember this name coming up before, please let us know! Saul says no, even for Carrie, so this may take a while.

Keane goes to visit her son’s grave, with David acting as courtier because she’s a lonely lady who doesn’t have any other friends or family. There’s dramatic music and shots of Elizabeth thinking, but what is she thinking? Who knows? Is she having an epiphany, or constipation? It’s probably the former, because later she tells David she’s dumping the speech he gave her to “reintroduce” herself to the American people for maybe the sixth time, and is going to “let the spirit” move her.

Yevgeny shows up in Carrie’s cell with her morning espresso, and tells her time’s up, and she’s got to decide whether or not to make the statement. Also, her boy toy is going to Syria, and that was a sugar pill, and she won’t get out for months at least, and is going to go insane. Carrie tells him to go to hell, and then because Yevgeny is just as petty as she is, he tells her, “No, that’s where you’re going!” Who is not shipping these two crazy kids?

At the Oval Office, President Keane gives a kick-ass speech that sounds like Saul could have written it, but he didn’t because he seems as surprised as anyone. She talks about how democracy is in trouble all over the globe and it’s not just Russia’s fault, but all the divisions and lack of trust within societies, and she sees her own actions as being part of it. She admits that half the country will never trust her and without a leader we can trust democracy can’t be saved, so she’s resigning in favor of Beau Bridges, because if you can’t trust an old white man, who can you trust?

And she drops the mic…

So they’ve set us up to like President Beau Bridges AKA Beau Bridges as POTUS, and to be relieved that he’s taking the reigns from that moody paranoid crone, President Elizabeth I, but who wrote her that way?

Like Scandal, and the retconned crossover episode of How to Get Away with Murder, Homeland is a show in which America has never had a black president. You don’t have to be black or a super-woke white person to understand that a lot of the bullshit we’ve been through these last years came out of the fear of a black president (or was at least exploited by that fear). While Homeland has offered us this funhouse mirror story, it somehow managed (like that other funhouse mirror series, The Handmaid’s Tale) to leave out the racism, and even a lot of the sexism, by making Elizabeth Keane not only terrible, but almost as emotionally volatile as Carrie, who at least has mental illness and not simply vagina-ownership as an excuse.

Sure, Beau Bridges is great and we couldn’t help trusting the guy, but couldn’t Elizabeth’s trustworthy vice president have been played by someone like Morgan Freeman, who has lots of experience? Or Jimmy Smits (who also has some)? Or Octavia Spencer, which would have been awesome and revolutionary, and out Shonda-ed Shondaland?

But moving along to our second time jump, it’s seven months later and Saul is at the Russian border with Jim, the Moscow Station chief who’s still not Michael’s boss on The Good Place, but looks like him. They’re here to do an old timey John Le Carre style spy exchange which can only take place by a border at night. (Fog optional. Men with guns required.) And if you really want to see this kind of thing done right, and get some insight into Saul’s spymaster shtick, might I suggest watching The Spy Who Came in from the Cold?

Now that’s a border crossing!

Guess what? Goran, that guy Saul said he’d never give up, is one of the three guys being traded for Carrie, so why the hell did that take so long? Did Elizabeth forget to put it on the to-do list she left for President Beau Bridges?

Saul moves toward a terrified looking Carrie, who’s being supported by two guards. It’s not clear she even recognizes Saul, who grabs her and hugs her. Seven months without her meds! She’s a mess.

Not too worry. Just a little electroshock treatment and she won’t even remember the last seven months happened!

But it looks like she’s going to recover because there will be an eighth and (god-willing) final season. What do we know about it? Time jump for one thing, which will give her plenty of time to recover. Remember, she got on this mission the day she was released from the hospital.

What else will season 8 bring? Will we still have an old white guy in the White House to kick around? (The answer is yes, both America and Homelandia are destined to always have an old white guy in the White House). Will there be more Yevgeny? Maybe those two will get stuck together on a desert island or one of them will get bonked on the head like in Overboard and they’ll realize they can’t live without each other. And will this Goran fellow we’ve heard about prove to be the next big bad? What’s on your wish list, dear reader, aside from never seeing Frannie again?

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

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