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Homeland goes low-key for finale after getting back into its groove


Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland

Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland

AFTER a breathlessly exciting penultimate episode, Homeland jerked the rug from under us yet again last night with one of the most low-key season finales ever.

Even the format was a surprise. Instead of the extended 90-minute episode climaxing in a big event that we’ve come to expect – the blowing-up of the CIA at the end of season 2, the slow execution of Brody in season 3 – this ran to a regular hour.

That’s not to say tumultuous things weren’t happening; it’s just that they were happening very quietly. There were no big explosions. Nobody died. In fact, there wasn’t so much as a single shot fired.

The critical response in the US, where the finale was shown on Sunday, has been largely lukewarm.

I have to say I found it immensely satisfying and as effective a way as any for a series that had been in the doldrums for quite a while to underline its reinvention

Homeland was back on home soil, its key players looking battered and bruised. It was appropriate that the finale was titled Long Time Coming, because several developments here were long overdue.

For one, the disillusioned Carrie’s belated realisation that she has a child to love and raise – and what’s more, she seems to be enjoying the prospect of doing so. For now at any rate.

At the funeral service for her father (an emotional scene that doubled up as a heartfelt tribute to the actor who played him, James Rebhorn) she announced she was “taking over” the care of baby Franny. It took a long time too for the inevitable kiss between Carrie and Quinn, but it finally materialised.

Quinn turned up at the funeral, his mission to kill Taliban leader Haqqani abandoned, once again yearning to get out of the spy game and take Carrie with him.

But any hopes of Carrie and Quinn sharing a quiet life in suburbia were quickly dashed. She wants to commit but can’t (“This won’t end well”), so Quinn is off again, taking up the offer of an off-the-grid black ops mission.

If there was a theme here, it was abandonment. Carrie’s mother, a hitherto unseen character who’d walked out on her husband and daughters 15 years before, reappeared out of the blue.

Carrie rejected her at first but then pursued her to Mississippi, where another shock was in store: Carrie has a 15-year-old half-brother, the product of her mother’s infidelity and the real reason she split.

Carrie may have recovered a mother and acquired a new sibling, but she’s lost the most important member of her CIA family: Saul.

We’re still not sure of the depth of the deal shady CIA black ops chief Dar Adal, spied in the back of Haqqani’s car last week, has struck with the terrorist leader, but we know that Saul has been drawn into it – willingly.

In return for Haqqani not releasing the video of Saul’s humiliation on the internet, Dar Adal is happy for Haqqani to remain under the protection of Pakistani forces, with Lockhart in the dustbin, the way is clear for Saul to take up the top post in the CIA.

While I’m wary of the mother/half-brother development (as we know from Brody’s dreary wife and whining daughter, home-life has a habit of wrecking Homeland) this was an intriguing wrap-up and a good set-up for next season.