Some TV shows end their run gracefully and enshrine their place in popular culture, while others ... don't. Garry Westmore (Producer, School Programs) gives us his take on the final season of this award-winning spy thriller TV series starring Claire Daines, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin.
When it comes to great TV series, there are those that lose their way (what happened to you, Lost? How are you still going, The Walking Dead?), those that go out on top (thank you, Breaking Bad), and those that get cut off at the knees (I’m sorry they did that to you, Deadwood).
Where Homeland would end up was anyone’s guess. It started off well but fell away as it dragged CIA operative Carrie Matheson’s (Claire Danes) romantic relationship with he-who-shall-not-be-named (no spoilers here) into subsequent seasons. When Homeland left that relationship behind it found its formula – equal parts espionage, political intrigue, action and the exploration of Carrie’s mental health battles. It’s a show that works best when its storylines take us into the field, the halls of power, and all those shady areas in between.
Although it largely dispenses with interpersonal stories, season eight returns to the one relationship that matters, between Carrie and her long-time boss and mentor Saul Barrinson (Mandy Patinkin). The show’s only remaining recurring characters are on a mission to ensure a peace deal with the Taliban and prevent a new American military conflict. Throw in some Russian interference and suddenly you have a fictitious series drawing cleverly upon a real-world political climate.
The final episodes add a nice layer of spy craft and backstory for Saul as we begin to realise the extraordinary lengths Carrie will go to stay in the game. Suddenly the seemingly unbreakable relationship between she and Saul is shaky, and the character trajectories you thought you had a handle on, appear headed for the unthinkable ...
In the end Homeland pulls of a fitting conclusion that’s both a resolution and a cliffhanger. In short, it goes out on top.
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