After almost nine years, eight seasons, 96 episodes, many deaths, explosions, betrayals and ugly cries, Homeland came to its end last night in taut, thrilling and satisfying hour.
Maybe you didn’t stay with the show until its bitter(sweet) end so we are here to help. What happened in “Prisoners of War?” Where did everyone end up? Read below to find out.
Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes): Once again suffering from Jack Bauer syndrome, Carrie is the only one who can save the world and stop a war. The Russians have the black box (which is actually red) that proves the President’s helicopter went down due to mechanical failure, not because it was shot down by the Taliban. They’ll turn it over if Carrie gives up the name of Saul’s Russian asset that has been feeding the CIA information for nearly four decades. If Carrie can’t do that, she needs to kill Saul (Mandy Patinkin), thus ending the assets relationship with the United States. We think she’s going to kill the man, who, even with their complicated and convoluted relationship, has been like a father to her. We really do. She’s got Saul paralyzed and KGB agents ready to administer a lethal injection. Saul tells her, as only Saul can, to “go fuck herself.” Sparing Saul’s life, Carrie instead goes to Saul’s sister, lies to her that Saul is dead and the sister gives Carrie the file with the name of the asset. Now viewed, as has been suspected all season long, as a traitor, the “two years later” coda shows Carrie, who has always mixed sex, love, and her devotion to her country, living in Moscow with KGB agent Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin). She’s happy! She’s wearing make-up and fancy clothes and going to jazz concerts. But has she completely betrayed her country?
Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin): True to the man we’ve grown to love over eight seasons, Saul would rather die that give up his asset. His bond with Carrie is forever severed because she betrayed him. Two years later, Saul is apparently retired from the CIA after a heart attack and moving out of his home. His sister is helping him so their fractured relationship is on the road to repair. Saul’s long history of covertly working behind the scenes to save his country has come to an end—or so we think. He gets a package addressed to “Professor Rabinow,” his code name for receiving intel from his Russian asset. In the package is the book Carrie wrote, “Tyranny of Secrets,” a tome on why she betrayed her country. But in the book’s spine is intel from Carrie about what the Russians are up to. “Greetings from Moscow, Professor,” the note reads. “The Russian S400 missile defense system sold to Iran has a backdoor. It can be defeated. More updates to follow. Stay tuned.” A sly, knowing smile cross over Saul’s face and the Carrie and Saul dance continues.
Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin): Given that Ronin also played a KGB agent on The Americans, in my mind I’ve always created a special crossover fan fiction storyline for him. And it all came together in the final moments that shows him happily living with Carrie in Moscow, giving her fancy jewelry and taking her out for swanky nights on the town. He has no idea Carrie is using him. Or does he? Yevgeny doesn’t suffer fools. Maybe he knows. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe they are truly in love. Maybe they are using each other. Or maybe, as was the case with Carrie and Brody, it’s both.
Anna Pomerantseva (Tatyan Mukha): Her identity revealed, Saul’s trusted Russian asset choses to commit suicide rather than let the KGB take her.
Jenna Bragg (Andrea Deck) After turning over confidential information to Carrie and witnessing the deaths of special ops forces by a suicide bomber, Carrie’s CIA handler decides this life isn’t for her. The moral trade-offs aren’t worth it. “I’ve tried to see it like you but I just can’t,” she tells Carrie in her final scene.
Max Piotrowski (Maury Sterling): A staple of the show since the very first episode, Max, who has been stationed in Afghanistan, retrieves the black box from the downed plane only to be taken hostage by Afghani soldiers and turned over to Jalal Haqqani (Elham Ehsas). Carrie and Yevgeny find him and Carrie desperately tries to get a special operations team in to rescue Max, but he’s unceremoniously killed before the team gets there, leaving Carrie to weep over his dead body.
President Ralph Warner (Beau Bridges): On his way to a historic peace summit, his helicopter crashes and he is killed, setting off a sequence of international events that would have led to war if not for Carrie. The CIA is forced to bomb the crash site lest the president’s body be taken by the Taliban. So, unbeknownst to the American public, it’s an empty casket that is flown back to the United States.
Frannie Mathison: Only seen via photos in the series finale, we know that Carrie and Brody’s love child is still thriving living with Carrie’s sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves). Knowing she will once again have to say goodbye, Carrie chooses to not even seen Frannie when she returns to D.C. (although she does get the contents of the go bag she’s hidden in Frannie’s closet). The dedication of Carrie’s book reads “For my daughter, in the hopes she’ll one day understand.” And hopefully, with some good therapy, Frannie will.
David Wellington (Linus Roache) A fixture on the show since the sixth season and the chief of staff to three presidents (two of whom are now dead), David fought to prevent war and not let his unprepared and incompetent Vice President-turned-President lead the country into war. Because of Carrie, he succeeds. The show doesn’t tell us where he is two years later, but David is a survivor so we have to assume it’s somewhere in the White House.
President Ben Hayes (Sam Trammell): Ill-equipped to become President after Warner dies, Hayes has a bad habit of listening to the wrong people and making hot-headed decisions. He also struggles with pronouncing all the countries and cities he’s supposed to know much more about. Did Hayes win when he was up for re-election? The coda doesn’t tell us but we would like to think no.
John Zabel (Hugh Dancy): Danes’ husband guest-starred in a final six-episode arc as a hot-headed, conservative presidential advisor hell bent on leading the United States into war. Once again the show doesn’t tell us, but you just know he’s now hosting his own show on Fox News.
Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar): A major character in the show’s fourth season, the Taliban leader returned for Homeland’s final season, but this time he wanted peace. No such luck as he is executed by the Afghan government after a “trial” that lasts less than a minute.
Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis): Still dead. Come on! It had to be said, because with this show you just never know. Although, bringing the show full circle, the series finale kicked off by replaying a video of Brody from first season finale where he declares “I love my country. What I am is a marine.” It was a nice callback and a reminder that both Carrie and Brody always put what they perceive as the greater good above personal happiness.
Amy Amatangelo, the TV Gal®, is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and the Assistant TV Editor for Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter (@AmyTVGal).
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