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Series Review: Homeland S6

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WARNING. THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR SEASON SIX OF HOMELAND. READ ON AT YOUR OWN PERIL!

Now we have that out of the way, I would like to start by looking back on the earliest thoughts I had about this most recent series after watching the very first episode. I found the introduction of President Elect Elizabeth Keane to be a refreshing development for the series, as although keeping up with real world parallels by having a very against the grain President Elect in the frame, the series subverted real world politics and focused on Kean being a more left-liberal leaning politician, as opposed to the right wing posturing real world elected President. Homelands reputation with it's handling of its female characters that don't happen to be played by Claire Danes has been inconsistent in the past, with characters like Jessica and Dana Brody, Moira, and Astrid being assigned more as tools to aid their male co-stars rather then shine and function as their own characters contributing to the story, but on the flip-side we have also seen great female characters like Farah and Allison alter-the status quo and become meaningful players in the shows storylines, yet this hasn't stopped them from being unceremoniously killed off whenever the writers feel like it. This was a big fear of mine from the opening episode with regards to the fate of President-elect Keane, but thankfully despite a very tough run and being confronted with a whole host of problems from rebellious government officials colluding with members of the alt-right, the legacy of her beloved son killed in the line of duty being dragged through the mud, and surviving an outright assassination attempt on her, Elizabeth Keane managed to survive to the series end, and as the finale revealed she will go on to be perhaps the major antagonist of the last two seasons that remain to be completed of Homeland.

On the contrary however I did not quite expect the series to launch into full-blown-conspiracy-to-overthrow-the-PEOTUS, quite as quickly as it did, and had been looking forward to the series delving further into the conversation about home-grown terrorism in the U.S, and the questionable methods of various Homeland security agencies when it comes to dealing with alleged threats in this area. I am of course referring to two of the seasons rather short lived players, Sekou and FBI agent Conklin. Both characters death were rather unexpected developments for me personally, as I had become quite invested in wanting to see more of the conflict between the two play out. Sekou, despite his best attempts to be as unlikable as possible at the start, became a much more sympathetic character when he realized how out of his depth he was and actually started to listen to what other people were telling him. This new found maturity was brutally short lived, as he became the first casualty of the conspiracy against Keane via a Dar Adal arranged false flag operation, which resulted in Sekou being unwittingly painted as a suicide bomber after the explosion of a bomb placed in the van he was driving. Killing off Sekou in this way was a good move, as it injected the season with some much needed drama and intrigue, which then led to the other unexpected death in the first half of the season when Conklin, the agent tasked with investigating Sekou but convinced by Carrie that he could have been framed for the alleged suicide bombing, being unceremoniously bumped off as well. Again, whilst this did raise tension and accelerate the pacing of these and consecutive episodes, it quite clearly pointed the direction the series was headed for it's remaining episodes.

Whilst the show did a commendable job in showing the inner workings of the grand conspiracy to challenge, discredit, and ultimately to kill the next P.O.T.U.S, it does feel the last area in particular overstepped the mark somewhat. Depending on whether or not you believe various conspiracy theories about the CIA being behind the assassination of JFK, it does not stretch that far in the imagination that dissident figures in a United states government could conspire to do something similar in the modern day, but the question it ultimately boils down to is well, why? The sheer amount of money and time already invested by the conspirators and Dar in particular, from arranging the framing of Sekou, silencing Carrie via arranging for social services to take her child away, setting up the Alt-Fact think tank to discredit Keane, hell going all the way back to the beginning of the season with the joint Mossad operation to convince keen the Iranians are cheating on the nuclear energy deal.There was already enough in place in practice to cause Keane's presidency to be a nightmare, and potentially fold in on itself in a similar way to how the real world expects Donald Trump's to go. So why take the gamble and attempt to kill her?  It makes little to no sense,particularly too someone as sneaky as Dar, hence why he turns his cloak at the very end and warns Carrie about the conspiracy. What I am getting at here is that Homeland is often best when it relies on real world parallels to further ground the story and setting, and by sacrificing a much more interesting slow burn conspiracy to ultimately force the President Elect from power, the show plays its hand too aggressively and the finale loses a lot of its impact because of this. Similarly, my points I made about sacrificing the real world relevance of characters and conflict like that between Sekou and Conklin, leaves me asking more questions about whether the show runners may have missed the opportunity to make the series more credible by grounding it in the very in your face reality of these stories about ordinary but misguided people vs the equally misguided government agencies who feel threatened, and unable to cope with the challenges they face in the modern day without resorting to the power of force.

On the overwhelmingly positive side of things though,the show runners deserve credit for sticking to what Keane was saying she wanted from day one, a complete overhaul of the entire intelligence community and the strategy it practices. Now it was never really talked about in great detail how exactly she planned on doing this, but given how liberal her character had appeared throughout the season, we may have been left too assume it would involve the quiet removal from office of Cold War vets like Dar and Saul, and putting new people with new ideas in their place.When we see Saul being arrested and hauled from his car at gunpoint whilst face-timing Carrie, and see the process repeated to a dozen other former colleagues of hers that she had only minutes ago in the episode, assured on behalf of the President as her representative to the intelligence agencies, that they would not be facing persecution as part of the ongoing investigation into Dar and co's conspiracy, one has to applaud the writers for their creativity. Dar and his cohorts were worried about her before she was elected, that she might be bad, potentially end-spelling for them. I don't think any of them ever stopped to imagine they would become the architects of their own destruction.In pushing against Keane for the entire season so hard, she has finally snapped and pushed back, but in a way that completely undercuts everything at this moment we have been led to believe about her and what she stood for. Flipping the equation of a Liberal, democratic leader, on it's head and turning her into a potential authoritarian figure,is bold and completely engrossing, as that last lingering shot of Elizabeth attempting to ignore Carries pleas, and seeming quite nervous really serves to undercut her once more as transitioning from a confident career politician, into a quite isolated and possibly frightened woman who is unable to trust her own establishment. What this will bode for the future of the series can only be guessed, but it is bound to make for more gripping television.

Finally, It would be impossible to sign off a review for Homeland without an obituary to the late, great, Peter Quinn. Whilst initially it appeared that Saul was going to the one to bite the dust, after stepping into the doomed SUV as part of President Keane's motorcade that was bombed by rogue Delta Force operatives but then somehow miraculously surviving and popping up at the end of the episode (which still gives me hope that Majid Jivadi the slimy bugger, may still be alive despite being handed over to Mossad, a la the Game of Thrones rule that they aren't dead until you see the body, and even then who knows if they stay that way), but tragically it was the much adored Quinn who sacrificed himself rather heroically to protect Carrie and Keane from the Delta members finishing the job. There was much controversy at the end of Series Five, when Quinn it appeared was not going to pull through his Sarin gas induced coma, after Carrie rather desperately tried to pull him out of it too early. Many viewers and critics felt that this should be Quinn's end and he should be allowed to die with dignity, but thankfully the showrunners brought him back for another season and allowed him the truly heroic death he deserved after coming to the end of his most compelling character arc yet. Dignity is the go-to word here, as when we caught up to Quinn at the start of the series and saw what state he had been left in after the end of Series Five, we saw the once incredibly capable killing-machine and impeccable soldier reduced tragically, to a heavily disabled, traumatized version of his former self. Quinn has long been the moral compass of the show for me, frequently asking the right questions about what he, and by proxy the agency do in their murky grey area of operation and if it is justified. Watching him slowly pull himself out of the hole he was in and rediscover a sense of purpose, i:e protecting Carrie from Dar's schemes, and ultimately avenging the murder of Astrid that he indirectly caused, was nothing short of fist pumping and a worthy end to a great character. How the series will go on without him remains to be seen, as Rupert Friend brought so much heart and soul with his performance as Quinn often at times the show was severely lacking it, the void may just be too big to fill.

Regardless, this season of Homeland has been one of the best in the eyes of many viewers, delivering gripping, and entertaining story lines that draw amazing parallels with our own real world. The end is in sight for the show now, and their is clearly a massive agenda that the writers are building towards with the remaining two seasons so where the show will go from this season for now remains a mystery, but I alongside many others will definitely be looking forward to it Sleuthing it's way forward to it's conclusion.

 

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