This Homeland review contains spoilers.
Homeland Season 7 Episode 10
Well, I think it’s fair to say that none of us exactly saw this episode coming, at least as far as Carrie’s storyline is concerned. Indeed, last week I was less than thrilled with seeing yet another hour devoted to Carrie strengthening the legal case against her for Frannie’s custody, and yet when this week decided to be all about pulling that Band-Aid off, its removal felt relatively painless and therapeutic. Thank goodness.
Yep, much of this hour seemed about table-setting the final movements for this year: Carrie accepts her fate as a victim of televised heroics by realizing she is forced to give up all for the greater good of the country (and her merciless TV viewing public that would rather see her in the field than the courtroom); and President Elizabeth Keane will make a bad situation worse by always taking the vaguely authoritarian approach. So as we enter the final hours of Homeland Season 7, it will all be about Carrie and Saul proving a Russian conspiracy, and whether it will even matter if an unhinged POTUS throws our nation over the brink.
But before we speculate on the future, how did the episode that prepared that table go? Honestly… a lot better than I expected. Last week’s histrionics that ended with Carrie having a mental breakdown following almost running over her daughter veered into nigh Days of Our Lives territory, so I was surprised by how refreshingly adult the domestic drama was concluded here. Again. But even if this is a narrative beat that’s been overplayed, at least it ended in key and with some grace.
So it was when Carrie and Maggie had their seemingly final showdown and fairly shocking semi-reconciliation during “Clarity.” When the episode begins, there has been a bit of a time jump, with Carrie winding up in the hospital… too little and too late for Maggie after she stormed out of the house and then caused a dramatic incident at Frannie’s school. Plus, it is likely Carrie was checked in not of her own volition after having a mental break.
Within this disorienting context, we learn that Carrie has achieved enough perspective to know some poor decisions had been made in recent weeks—such as putting her daughter in danger while placing her inside the apartment of a traitor. Never mind the whole car thing. But Carrie is aware of these shortcomings and has the good sense to even lawyer up as she is getting ready to face Maggie in court to decide Frannie’s fate.
On a certain level, Carrie had to see the odds were stacked against her given all the bad mojo that has come her way, recently. When even her lawyer can’t feign a whiff of confidence about their odds, then yes, that one visitation every three weeks offer is not exactly a bad deal.
Nevertheless, Carrie is given the opportunity to let an ugly situation get truly abominable when she has one of her random spy friends dig up dirt on Maggie—namely her illegally helping Carrie medicate and hide her bipolar condition when she worked at the CIA—which still probably would’ve backfired as it also reflected poorly on Carrie. This really just seemed to be one more arrow fired between sisters that would at most derail Maggie’s career.
Yet a strange thing happened when the trial came: Carrie, and perhaps some of her most ardent fans, began viewing this not as a struggle between sisters, but as a question of what is best for the child. Frankly, I turned on Carrie as a mother not just because of the Dante Allen situation… but also what she did after. Instead of making sure Frannie is okay, she made a six-year-old swear never to talk about a trauma that could leave real mental scars and dropped her off at school like nothing happened. That is more than just a case of jumbled priorities; that is turning the daughter into an afterthought. This is also what finally caused Maggie to put her foot down.
Hearing about how quiet Frannie had become after the incident, and how she cries in her cousin’s bed, was enough to cause Carrie to really earn what the title of the episode promised. And with her clarity, she saw how needlessly pernicious it would be to ruin Maggie’s career. With that said, I am shocked how grateful or at peace with Maggie Carrie became. While it is self-evident Frannie is better off with Maggie and her douchebag of a husband, the fact that Maggie forced Carrie to choose an either/or situation will always be a bitter pill to swallow.
Maggie speaks the truth when under oath: Whatever Carrie thinks right now about prioritizing Frannie, in six weeks or whenever, it will wear off when Saul comes with another mission. Hell, it’s already worn off because Saul has come with another mission and after some reluctant second-guessing, Carrie passed on it. For now. We as viewers want her on that mission, and for the show to continue, she needs to be on it. So Maggie is right. But that mercurial nature tells me that even if Carrie is far too eager to say “thank you” to Maggie this week, that too will turn again. Maggie, even if it was for the best, took away Carrie’s child. Agreeing on visitation rights every other week may bury the hatchet, but it will always still be there, festering. Carrie can never let that go, nor will Frannie be able to think anything less than Carrie gave her up.
And so she did. But hey, it lets our spy show continue! Which is great, because Saul and Carrie now have nothing less than the fate of the republic on their shoulders. In a fascinating turn, they are protecting the president Carrie and her audience began the season despising, even as the episode starts leaving breadcrumbs for us to doubt whether Keane is worth saving.
After Carrie says her surprisingly poignant goodbyes to Dante via his parents—yes, she ruined his life, but he still betrayed his country—she and Saul are off to Europe to see if they can dig out Simone Martin and prove the Russian conspiracy. For any viewers who might be inclined to toast the thought of FBI agents raiding Michael Cohen’s office, that has a satisfying urgency to it. However, one of the most intriguing and potentially gratifying aspects of season 8, at least before it is over, is the ambiguity about the presidency they’re defending.
Elizabeth Keane has gotten a rotten hand all around. An assassination attempt orchestrated by rogue members of her CIA before she’d even been sworn in aptly makes her paranoid. But her response to the paranoia had the ring of tyranny… as does her actions this week. Last episode, I lamented that Sen. Paley would begin acting the cartoonish fool—which is fine as the real U.S. Senate is filled with caricatures of human beings—and he sure enough did. In the time jump, Paley has been running around, cloak-and-dagger like, securing signatures to use the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to replace Keane with Vice President Beau Bridges.
Keane is rightly outraged to see her own cabinet and vice president rallying against her. Frankly, the prospect that they’d do this without a shred of proof that Keane orchestrated the deaths and/or disappearances of Dante Allen, McClendon, or Simone Martin is faintly ludicrous. We know all too well from reality that political parties will surround a beleaguered or potentially corrupt leader until the most damning and irrefutable evidence is produced. While Keane has failed to produce concrete evidence of Russian malfeasance, all Paley has is conspiracy theory nonsense.
But if we give the series this admittedly large mulligan, I am more than intrigued with where it is going. Vice President Warner is a fool for not returning his president’s phone calls that night and certainly by the following morning. But Keane’s reaction of firing two-thirds of her cabinet is sure to invoke a constitutional crisis. I am no legal scholar, but I believe she does have the ability to do that. Even so, the optics are horrendous and her agenda for the rest of her presidency will now lie in ruin. And when the calls of impeachment come in the House, it is sure to get worse.
I wouldn’t fully blame Keane for ignoring David Wellington’s advice if she knew the vice president turned against her. She is right about one thing: If the first woman president, whose first hundred days were besieged by scandal after scandal, was removed from office via the 25th Amendment, the beltway whirlwind would never let her achieve power again, nor would she have the capital to wield it if that were even possible. But once she knew she had the vice president on her side, she, in my opinion, made the wrong decision to cause a national crisis.
I don’t think she will necessarily lose her presidency over this. After all, our reality has basically been a nearly 12-month constitutional crisis since the sitting president fired the FBI director investigating him, which in turn prompted the slow-motion intrigue of the Robert Mueller probe. Still, she is forcing Homeland’s fiction into a reality as sordid and unpleasant as our own. As someone who lives here, that is a foolish thing to do that will come back to haunt her as at least special prosecutors also will be enacted against her.
So does Carrie and Saul’s investigation into Simone Martin really matter anymore? Well, we’ll have to see how the final two hours play out. But I am very curious to learn if they can avoid a future as grim as our own.