April 30, 2018

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Finale Review: “Homeland”


HOMELAND‘s season 7 was a mess, but a more entertaining one than recent editions have been.  There were even a few episodes toward the middle of the season that brought back memories of the truly great series it had been in its early glory years.  At this point, though, we’ll settle for less, and we needed to.

The ramshackle nature of the season was best illustrated by its treatment of US president Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel).  Season 6 had ended with the strong implication that Keane was going to become dictatorial, so it took an episode or two for the show to dig itself out of that hole, including by having her not only free Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) from the trumped-up charges she’d brought against him, but instantly appoint him her National Security Advisor.  Admittedly, that was still more logical than the way Cabinet-level appointments are made in real life these days, but nevertheless a stretch.  The season went on to cast Keane as the victim of a Russian disinformation campaign fueled by the Alt-Right, personified by the Alex Jones-like Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), a character who was prominent in the first few episodes of the season and then vanished entirely.  The manipulations led to Keane being removed from office via the 25th Amendment.  In tonight’s finale, she was restored to office, seemed to be on the verge of becoming frighteningly authoritarian again… then resigned from office the same day in order to foster good will and trust among all Americans.


Luckily for Homeland, its espionage storytelling was on firmer ground than its politics.  The blessed absence of Peter Quinn meant that the season’s spy drama was firmly in the possession of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), and Danes proved once again what a tremendous TV star she is.  Carrie had a rough season, including a discovery that she’d built up a tolerance to the drugs controlling her bipolar condition, which brought her to a mental break.  She also had to deal once and for all with the conflict between her ravenous desire to spy and her feelings about being a mother, and she chose her calling over her maternal instincts.  This was bad for Carrie, but great for Homeland, because it gave Danes hours of meaty drama to play.  (It also freed the series from sequences of Carrie being late to pick up her daughter from school or otherwise proving herself a suboptimal parent.)  Carrie’s pursuit of the various links in the Russian plot were exciting and sometimes even smart, and although Saul had less to do (he mostly looked worried), their scenes together were still magic.

The season finale, written by series co-creator Alex Ganza and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter, began with a tense 15 minutes that resolved last week’s cliffhanger, with Russian spy Simone Martin (Sandrine Holt) making her escape from Moscow with Carrie’s help, but Carrie held in a Russian prison, under the cruel eye of Yevgeny (Consta Ronin), who withheld her medication.  After that, things were considerably more subdued, with the focus on President Keane, weaselly Senator Sam Paley (Dylan Baker, who’s made a career out of such roles), and upstanding President-to-be Ralph Warner (Beau Bridges).  A 7-month time jump epilogue showed us a Carrie who was back in US custody, but fully out of her mind, presumably after having been off her meds all that time.

Claire Danes has announced that next season will be her last on Homeland, and although Showtime retains the right to renew the show in rebooted form a la 24, the ratings have been declining, and in any case the series wouldn’t be the same.  Carrie’s struggle back to mental health will give Homeland a solid character arc for Season 8, and no doubt things won’t go as smoothly with President Warner as the finale suggested.  It should be a good place for the series to exit, especially if the finality of a concluding season gives the show heightened stakes for one final boost.  It would be nice to see a series that started out looking like a classic in the making leave the scene with his head still somewhat high.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."