Spoilers. It’s the last episode.
Homeland doesn’t always manage to stick the season-ending landing, but as these things go I thought this was a pretty good finale. Dar is going down fighting: he has a Senator, in his underwear, imprisoned in the freezer room of a restaurant, and he’s trying to find out from him what the conspirators are planning, with specific reference to Quinn. I must say that I’m not entirely convinced that the Prince of Darkness would put his evident affection for Quinn ahead of his messianic belief that President-elect Keane needs to be stopped, but there it is. Anyway, while Carrie and Quinn are with Keane at her hotel, overseeing an evacuation because there might be a bomb in the building, Dar discovers that the plan is to flush Keane out and assassinate her as she leaves. He tells Carrie just in time for her to stop Keane exiting the building, and thus saving her life, as a bomb goes off outside.
And then it’s Peter Quinn’s last stand: he bundles Carrie and PEOTUS into a 4X4, and drives them to safety through a hail of bullets from the would-be assassins. But in the process he’s shot, and – finally – dies. Which is irritating. Last week I said that – having survived sarin, stroke, and explosion – he was probably immortal for the show’s purposes. I was very wrong. But it hardly seems worth keeping him alive for this, and I’m now even more of the view that he should have been allowed to die at the end of season 5. Farewell, Quinn.
We then jump forwards six months. According to O’Keeffe, President Keane has extended the reach of the PATRIOT Act. And she was inaugurated behind closed doors. Given the events of episodes 1-11 I can see the need for her to be circumspect, but presumably a camera crew could have been allowed in? Still, O’Keeffe can piss off. Dar is in prison, not before time, and on being visited by Saul, Dar confides that he still thinks there’s something “un-American” about Keane.
My guess is that what then happens is to be interpreted as corroborative of Dar’s position, as the episode – and the season – ends on a disquieting note. Carrie has been working as Keane’s liaison to the intelligence community, and in that capacity reassures senior officials that, although Keane hasn’t been granting them much direct access, their jobs aren’t in any danger. Keane then offers her a permanent position in the West Wing and, while she weighs her options, she gets FaceTimed by Saul, who is being arrested. She then discovers that he’s far from the only person in the intelligence agencies to get arrested and, when she tries to protest directly to Keane, she’s blocked by new Chief of Staff David Wellington (Linus Roache).
The show, I think, is inviting us to regard this as sinister, and maybe it is. The thing is, though, does Keane not have a… point? There has just been an attempt to mount what would have effectively have been a coup d’état, involving significant numbers of Agency officials allying themselves with an alt-right bloviator and his lie factory, and using bombs and bullets along the way. Not to mention everything that’s happened in seasons 1-5. Time, I’d say, to clean house. And if one or two innocents get swept up: well, can’t make an omelette.
The final shot – Carrie staring at the Capitol – is presumably a deliberate callback to Brody’s similar scene at the end of the pilot. I can’t imagine that Carrie is going to go full terrorist on us, but at this point it’s quite possible to imagine her working in Keane’s White House, or campaigning in opposition to it. However, having once again enjoyed this admittedly patchy but ultimately compelling season, I’ll once again be on board to find out.