Homeland: “Long Time Coming” Season 4 Finale Review

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Steadily-paced, expertly acted, and full of poignancy, Homeland‘s season 4 closer is somber and powerful.

“Long Time Coming” is bereft of any action sequences throughout its entire hour, which, given the adrenaline rush that was season 4, might have come as a disappointment to some. Yet, for all the heart-pounding twists and thrilling set pieces that this series provides, its real strength lies within its characters.

Amidst all the explosions and gunfights, there are small, intimate moments that set this show miles above its competition. In fact, some of my favorite episodes have hardly any action at all. Season 1’s “The Weekend,” started Brody and Carrie on a destructive, but exciting path, while Season 2’s “Q&A” used an extended interrogation sequence for riveting character drama. Sure, the more climatic episodes are well-done, but its these grounded narratives that really bring the show home.

I think that’s because, at its core, Homeland is a show about the connections that are made between people who are constantly surrounded by danger. When Carrie walks onto the tarmac to retrieve Saul in “There’s Something Else Going On,” the heightened sense of uncertainty doesn’t just exist because there’s a bomb that could go off at any minute. It’s because there’s a bomb that could go off near two people who we’ve come to know so well. The bond that Carrie and Saul share is what drove the scene to cause such an impact.

The finale sees Carrie come home after stopping Quinn’s bombing and witnessing Dar Adal in the backseat of Haqqani’s van. There are no guns drawn or assassination attempts made. Instead, we see her trying her best to reacclimate into civilian society after botching her mission. It’s a fairly quiet hour, but it’s never any less captivating.

Coming home is no easy task for Carrie, especially with the recent death of her father. With that comes some strong emotions, along with an unexpected visitor in the form of her estranged mother (Victoria Clark). This was one of the highlights of the episode for me, as we got to peel back yet another layer of Carrie’s complex psyche. It’s no surprise that her own maternal instincts are so flawed when the woman who was supposed to help raise her walked out to start a new life with a new child.

Claire Danes is excellent in her scenes with Clark, revealing insecurities that have apparently plagued Carrie for years. We hear about how she was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and how she always believed she’d never be able to be in a long-term relationship because of it. It’s both heartbreaking and incredibly brilliant, as this information allows us to look at almost all of her previous actions in a new light. In short, Carrie has never made more sense to me.

Then there’s the saga of Carrie and Quinn, which, although bordering on cheesiness this week, still came out on top. There’s no more room for the two to hide behind the mission anymore, so it wasn’t really a surprise when they kissed after her father’s funeral service. I think having him bond with Franny and impress Carrie’s sister Maggie was tacking on a little too much sentimentality to the whole thing, but the kiss felt very deserved.

Even more authentic is the way things were left by the episode’s end. Carrie is hesitant to start something with Quinn because she’d be too much of a handful, but after hearing her mother tell her that she didn’t leave her father because of his disease, she gains new hope. Of course, Quinn has put his life on the line for Carrie too many times, and he’s sick of waiting around for her to make a decision. By the time she does, it’s too little too late.

There wasn’t much in the way of setup for next season, although I’m sure this tortured romance aspect will certainly come up again. Also leading into next year is Dar Adal’s shady dealing with Haqqani. It turned out to be for Saul’s benefit, but what’s most surprising is that Saul goes along with it. It’s unclear whether or not he’s just desperate to get back into the CIA, or if he’s playing some sort of elaborate con, but either way Carrie is not amused. There relationship is central to the show’s plot, and I’m sure this strain will come into play in season 5.

The most important scene in “Long Time Coming,” however, didn’t have to do with strained relations at all. It occurs after Carrie’s father’s funeral, where she, Quinn, and Saul sit around her backyard, drink whiskey, and reminisce. A little while later, Lockhart shows up and makes an amusingly awkward comment about the lasagna he brought as a condolence gift. He then sits down to join his fellow grievers.

It’s a small moment for sure, but watching these four fractured people who’ve been through hell and back do something as simple as have a drink together was incredibly heartwarming and dynamic. Homeland‘s version of the CIA might be dark and depraved, but there’s always room for hope. Hope is what made me stick by this show, even at its worst. After a finale like this, I’m so glad I did. Grade: A

 

By Mike Papirmeister

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