Homeland: “A False Glimmer” Season 5 Finale Review

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Well…that was disappointing.

I guess my hopes for Homeland‘s season 5 finale were a little too high after last week’s stellar “Our Man in Damascus.” Not only does “A False Glimmer” forgo any sense of tension or adrenaline, it also gives every major plotline on this series the short shift. It’s not a fun or exciting hour to behold, and it left me pondering my constant love-hate relationship with this show as a whole.

I was reminded several times of the season 4 finale “Long Time Coming” during this episode, as both entries opt for a quieter, character-driven ending than a flashy showdown. Yet, “Long Time Coming” worked, in my humble opinion, because the action had already been completed in the previous episode. I was able to embrace a calmer episode because the storm had already passed. Here, so many things were left up in the air last week, that it was a shame to see them all executed so poorly.

I’ll start with the Sarin gas. Homeland has handled major terrorist attacks with both aplomb and total disregard for plausibility, and while the ending to this was certainly believable, it was over and done with so quickly that I hardly had time to process it. Qasim tries to talk his cousin Bibi out of enabling the bomb, Bibi shoots Qasim, Carrie shoots Bibi, the train comes, and the bomb is never set off. The fact that Homeland didn’t have its usual opening credits this week made me think that they were going to use the extra time for a really big finish. Unfortunately, we got about 10 minutes of action and then another 50 of a slow crawl to the finish line.

Then, there’s Allison. As divisive as her character was, she was a fantastic antagonist, especially for Saul. Having her demise boil down to essentially being shot off camera isn’t just frustrating, it’s careless storytelling. Allison is a character who thwarted the CIA for decades and, on top of that, seemed simultaneously unsure of what she was doing and totally in control. Her character was immensely intriguing, and then dealt with so quickly. I get that the finale had a lot of balls to keep in the air before bringing everything to a close, but this was just a sad ending for a character that deserved better.

I’m also confused as why the show felt the need to make her constantly hesitant of her decisions if there wasn’t going to be a moment where she tries to back out of her double cross. There’s a scene in “A False Glimmer” where Allison realizes that the safe house she’s being held in is also a way station for human trafficking. She’s disgusted by it, but does nothing about it. This can pretty much sum up all of her experiences with the SVR. For someone as competent and quick-thinking as Allison, it’s a shame to see that she never did anything about it.

Okay, so, let’s talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? Peter Quinn is dead. I know that the show didn’t officially kill him off, but I just can’t see him miraculously waking up and going back into the field next season after being in the vegetative state he’s currently in. Homeland might stretch your suspension of disbelief to dangerously thin levels at times, but it would never do anything like that. Still, this is another character who doesn’t seem to have been given the ending he deserves.

Actually, this entire season has been pretty rough on Quinn. He’s going episode to episode being barely alive, and then his final moments on the show are left going through a stroke and then becoming braindead. It’s unfortunate that the Homeland writers never seemed to know what to do with him, and so this feels like they’re just trying to clean up the mess they made by getting him out of the picture.

What I did like about his death and the scenes that led up to it, however, was Carrie’s reaction and her reliance on faith. This whole season has been about her trying to make a new life for herself, and part of that has been her acceptance that certain things are out of her control. At her best, Carrie has always been master of her domain, but even then she’s had to hope that a big break would come her way. It’s been interesting to see her embrace a higher power this season, and I think the scenes in the chapel really helped bring her character arc full circle. If nothing else, they served as a reminder that this show is, and has always been, about Carrie. Even when the plotlines get wonky, she’s always been a fascinating character to behold.

There’s so much that I’m wondering about going into next season. What will Carrie do next? What will her relationship with Saul be like? Will the show go back to being US-based, or will it continue to keep her abroad?

All of these things are worth speculating on, but honestly my biggest question is, is this a show that’s still worth watching? After a season of some very high highs and some painfully low lows, it’s hard to make a definitive judgement right off the bat. Yet, I can’t help but think that it might be time for me to follow in the footsteps of many former Homeland fans at give this show up for good. Like Carrie’s relationship with the CIA, it might be best if we part ways. Grade: C-

Homeland season 5 grade: B-


Some Other Notes:

  • Laura Sutton finally gets what she deserves, sort of. She’s forced to make a deal with the BND and is clearly not happy about it, but if you ask me she deserved to have a piano dropped on her head.
  • Otto also finally makes a move on Carrie, which is something I suspected would happen for a while now. I can’t tell whether or not this is a good idea, the whole thing felt super weird.
  • Thank you all for sticking with me throughout season 5! What a rollercoaster it has been. Things started out on a very strong note—“Super Powers” is definitely one of the best episodes of the series as a whole—but quickly went sour as the series tried and failed to tie all of its separate threads together. Quinn’s plotlines were almost always problematic, Laura got progressively more terrible, and Allison’s capture lacked the excitement I was hoping for. This isn’t the worst Homeland has had to offer, but this show can certainly do better.

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