The first part of this season-ender is largely given over to Operation Exfiltrate Simone. Saul and the team have a plane on the runway in Moscow to which they need to transport Simone-dressed-as-Carrie, while Carrie-dressed-as-Simone runs interference, hoping that she can distract Gromov and his heavies for long enough to allow Saul to get out.
It’s a very well-executed version of a fairly standard plot: as Saul’s van is held by airport security we cut between that and Carrie, being chased by Gromov, ultimately hiding in a railway station. Saul phones Acting President Warner for assistance, which gives us the defining moment of the episode – Senator Paley is in the Oval with Warner, and reminds him that if Simone gets out she will be able to confirm that Keane was right all along, leading to her reinstatement. Warner gives this no more than momentary thought, and intervenes to secure the release of Saul’s party. “Get the fuck”, he snaps at Paley, “out of my White House”, a more profane version of a memorable line in The West Wing pilot. And so Saul’s plane is wheels-up just as Carrie is captured.
Three days later, Simone gives her evidence to a congressional committee, confirming that Russia was indeed trying to destabilise American democracy. Paley has been arrested, and his chief of staff Janet is co-operating with the investigation into him, confirming just how nasty a piece of work she is. I wonder if we’ll see her again? I shouldn’t be surprised. And President Keane is sworn in again. Which is… sort of a happy ending.
But there are still quite a few loose ends. Carrie is in custody in Russia, and Gromov asks her to provide a recorded statement to camera about how this is all a CIA plot. Carrie of course refuses, and Gromov tells her that her meds will be withheld until she co-operates. Saul is trying to negotiate her release through a prisoner swap, but not getting anywhere. Then Keane gives an unscripted televised address to the nation, in which she indicates that she will be tendering her resignation: the country is divided, and she can’t rule in a situation in which around half the population thinks she’s lying every time she opens her mouth. Wellington at first looks appalled, but then clearly understands. Maybe he thinks he can now get a little more “me-time” with Keane?
And in the final scene, we jump forward seven months: the prisoner exchange has finally been orchestrated, and Saul waits for Carrie at the Estonian/Russian border. However, Carrie shows every sign of having been deprived of her meds: she can barely stand, and doesn’t seem to recognise Saul. It’s a chilly end to what has been, all things considered, a very good season: Homeland’s most vociferous critics tend to be people who haven’t watched it for years, but those of us who are still on board know that the quality has remained high. It seems that the next season will be the last, and there appears to be a possibility that it will be set in Israel. Should be easy enough to avoid controversy, then.