I’m not going to get into the specifics of the series. If you’re a fan of the show, you already know who the major players are and that means your also well aware of and the non-formulaic formula used each season. But so far in year number six (the series finale is this Sunday night), art is imitating life in oddly specific ways.
For starters, Alex Gansa wears a ridiculous number of Homeland hats. He’s a screenwriter, producer, creator, executive producer, showrunner and probably chief brownie baker for craft services on the set of the award-winning Showtime series. Politically and culturally speaking, he proudly states he’s left of center. That’s obvious this season in Carrie’s paradigm shift.
Last year, and the year before that and the year before that, she was a fiercely determined, bi-polar CIA hunter of radical Islamic terrorists. This season, she’s a retired spy with a sympathetic side. A year ago she hunted them down. Couriers ro cell head honchos were fair game… she didn’t care. She now represents jihadis (real or perceived) against discrimination. Being a Muslim is being a member of a religion, not an indictment.
I don’t know if Mr. Gansa did this on purpose or not, but from my point of view, this season has analogous undertones for…..wait for it….wait for it….the TRUMP administrstion and not necessarily in a completely negative vein. This year has been rife with mentions of Alternate news sites, fake news, fabricated news reports, security leaks, fraternizing with Russians, professional protestors, revisionist historians run amuck. We’ve even heard the words “deplorables,” and “Not My President,” on a TV show with dialog ripped from today’s headlines. This helps make all of this real world partisan nonsense shameful, embarrassing and painful to watch.
I’ve known nuns who inflicted less guilt.
This season features alt. news mouthpiece, Brett O’Keefe (Jake Webber), an Alex Jones show host type whose dislike for Madam President Elect Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) is as obvious as the perpetual Diet Coke can he clutches in his right hand. Chalk one up for product placement.
Keane’s son was killed in Iraq while trying to rescue an injured warrior during a firefight. The event was captured on another soldier’s body cam and O’Keefe and his incredibly well-funded misinformation machine creatively edited the video to make it appear as though Soldier Keane was running away from battle. This infuriates his mom who vehemently kept the subject of her son off topic during her campaign. She didn’t want to politicize his death. So, O’Keefe does that for her after her election. They end up going head to head on his TV talk show, both unflinching in their stances on the veracity of the video.
Mrs. Keane insists the video is incomplete, there’s more to the story. Even so, the story remains the same: her son died a decorated war hero.
O’Keefe says nope, that’s the not the case. The video is correct and he has eyewitness accounts from solders involved in that same gun battle who know the facts and they say Late Almost First Son died a coward, so there!!!
This on air confrontation stirs up a hornets nest of protestors at her transition headquarters which just so happens to be a lavish hotel in the heart of New York. As her motorcade heads back to HQ, one hate-filled protestor breaks through the security barrier and her car clips him. When this happens, her expression is truly one of shock and awe and she asks without uttering a word, “What the hell have I gotten myself into???”
We then learn that a specific security detail is being sent to help the President-Elect’s team. They are in fact, a hit squad. Carrie and Quinn figured it out thanks to code on a poorly erased dry board.
But we’ll have to wait for Sunday night’s season finale to find out if Carrie can once again (as she has during the previous five seasons) be completely ubiquitous and Teflon coated and somehow save the CIA, the President- Elect and the world, from any and all evil.
Speaking of evil, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) has never smiled or shown any emotion once since his first appearance on Showtime and in season six, he lets out all the stops in terms of his evil induced facial paralysis. He’s funding O’Keefe’s alt. news/misinformation effort with CIA slush money,. That’s a HUGE no-no because national security agencies are prohibited from influencing U.S. public opinion.
We also learn that Dar is a big old queen and recruited trained assassin, Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) out of High School because of his potential and no doubt, because Quinn is on the hot side.
Like O’Keefe, Dar also dislikes President- elect Keane. Before winning the election, she was a Junior Senator from New York (D) with no foreign policy or national security experience. That doesn’t sit well in certain sections of government, in TV or in real life apparently. In an earlier episode, as her team is just starting its presidential transition, Keane meets with Dar and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) about the CIA, an organization for which she has little esteem. She asks about the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also inquires about specific Agency programs, including drone attacks and clandestine military operations. Keep in mind, Carrie now a civilian with a former CIA station chief title, has been her extra secret hush-hush ghost advisor throughout her campaign and transition. Carrie would know, she ordered most of the drone strikes and covert military attacks in question.
At this point, Saul and Dar have no idea Carrie is anywhere in the Keane picture. So, they’re surprised the inexperienced next President would even know to ask these questions. They hedge their answers.
‘She then asks, “If the war isn’t winnable, what are we doing there?’
Have scarier words ever been uttered into the ears of CIA bigwigs?? After the meeting, Dar is convinced Keane wants to demilitarize the CIA. That’s when he goes into “get Keane” mode. He goes into “eliminate Keane” mode after she threatens to throw him in jail for all his nefarious behavior. It’s safe to assume he ordered the hit squad that’s coming to Keane under the guise of extra security.
DETAILS WORTH NOTING:
* Saul broke into Carrie’s apartment a few episodes earlier. He was on the run and about to go into hiding. He searches the entire apartment for no apparent reason sinxe it’s obvious Carrie isn’t there. He finds a room that’s locked. He breaks in and it’s a small space filled with proof that Carrie is off her meds. There are photos with several cross crossing connective lines and scribbled-on Post It notes stuck all over the place. The look on Saul’s face says everything. Carrie is crazy again, yay!!!….but this scene is short and hasn’t been referred to since. In fact, scenes including the infamous Carrie bottom lip quiver have been few and far between this season.
* Quinn is the new Rasputin. Nothing kills this cat. After being shot, beaten, kidnapped an forced to be the scapegoat victim of chemical warfare, concussions, a stroke and being within three feet of Carrie most of the past six seasons, it’s ridiculous that he’s still alive.
* Keane is an interesting character. She’s ballsy, which she’d have to be as the nation’s first female president. She’s also smart and to the point and as president’s go, quite an iconoclast, nit unlike Trump. That said, show creator Alex Gansa seems to have derived Keane from a big political salad; a little bit of both Clintons and Trump. If Obama is in the mix, I can’t see it.
* O’Keefe (the Alex Jones type) and Dar are working together, but Dar accidentally sees a website on one of a zillion laptops in O’Keefe’s office. It included a photo of Peter Quinn. O’Keefe slams the laptop shut and tells Dar it’s just a project he’s working on, He offers nothing more and Dar doesn’t press the issue. Dar uses or rather, deftly forces a CIA colleague and cyber whiz kid to delve into the website which is supposedly Quinn’s blog, but everyone knows he has no use for email or texts, much less a blog. Yet, his photo is proudly displayed and blog it’s filled with anti-President- Elect Keane stories and conspiracy theories.. Real lunatic fringe stuff. There’s even a threat made against Keane’s life and as we saw in last Sunday’s previews for the season finale this coming Sunday, there’s a shoot to kill order for Quinn as a result of a threat he never made. But why? What does killing Quinn get O’Keefe? What he stand to gain by going against Dar? O’Keefe must know Quinn has a special place in Dar’s heart, plus Dar is funding this massive cottage industry of misinformation under one very large roof. Isn’t that biting the hand that feeds?
* Lastly, Gansa and company seem to have turned Homeland’s attention away from Muslim extremism and more towards our own internal corruption. Each week has been like an imposed object lesson: as if to say, “See? We’re no better than those we call the enemy.”
The show has a seventh season planned, but some major changes will have to happen as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dar and Quinn are either killed or jailed (depending on the terms of the actors’ contracts) while Carrie re-enters the Agency, more manic than ever. I know I want to hear more free form jazz, I want to witness antipsychotic meds washed down with Chardonnay and I want her to get into more frenetic promiscuity. Her ginger headed by product of her affair with Brodie? That child character isn’t a factor at this point. She’s just a means used to control Carrie. Motherhood will never be easy for Carrie, nor is it that intriguing. Little Frannie is cute and all, but unless she’s precocious enough to fly a plane, use a spy camera pen and order a pizza in Farsi, she can’t stay on as a character. I’m afraid she’ll have to go the way of Chuck, the eldest brother on Happy Days or Mike, the oldest boy on My Three Sons. Poof!!! Gone from one season to the next. No questions asked.
Which begs the question–who’ll be the enemy next season? Every show ever produced for TV has established conflict. In this case, it’s man vs. man with a subtext of good vs. evil. If Gansa and company want to exclude all things Middle Eastern from the equation, I’ll bet Russia will enter the picture as the new (old) foe. Hating within, hating ourselves is safe, but with the current political climate that exists, its just as factional. If we all gang up on Russia, that’s okay. Years ago, the late great radio legend, Mark Stevens once noted on air that since the Korean War, Americans only wage war on country’s with citizens who have dark skin. He said it in jest, but if you think about it…..
If Russia becomes the new focus of hate, either on Homeland or from within The Beltway, we need to remember who we’re dealing with. Russia is bigger, wealthier and so much more organized than any other threat, save for Great Britain circa 1775.
Since the end of the Cold War, we’ve gotten used to seeing news clips of adversaries throwing rocks and bottles at various defenders of Democracy. Russians might do the same, but the rocks and bottles they throw have nukes attached.
Now MY bottom lip is quivering.