Homeland: A Muted Response

I’m not going to have a whole lot to say about the season finale of Homeland. Boy, if that doesn’t send you wonderful readers running, then nothing will, I suppose. Anyway, last night was all about The Affair in my household, largely because Homeland… well… It kind of bombed without really bombing.

Allow me to explain.

The episode spends a lot of time covering Carrie’s past. Now back in the States, she must deal with putting her father to rest. I imagine the episode was difficult for the show’s cast as actor James Rebhorn died last spring, leaving a sudden vacancy in the role of Carrie’s afflicted father. Rather than fill with another actor, they chose to have the character die in peace, holding a funeral in the first half of Sunday’s episode and providing Claire Danes another emotional arc.

Carrie’s father’s death causes her estranged mother to surface, giving Danes more opportunities to exercise the barely contained rage she wields so well through the series. A later road trip for answers ultimately reveals very little. Carrie gets her mental issues from her father and her sexual issues from her mother. At least now we know, but I’m not sure we ever really asked the question.

The rest of the episode – particularly the funeral and the scenes immediately following – seem to be set up to tease more than titillate. After weeks of sudden explosions and unexpected deaths, I watched this tame by any measure episode expecting the same level of dramatics. Is someone hiding in the nursery? Will some off the sister? Is his truck going to explode? Will she become kidnapped? WHEN WILL A BOMB GO OFF?

The expectations are there and are probably encouraged. Yet, this deliberate effect feels like a massive cheat. SPOILERS!!! There are no significant events save a few political machinations and Peter Quinn’s declaration of love for Carrie / departure for his next adventure. At the end, Saul seems poised to regain his status as Director of the CIA, thereby establishing a direction for Season Five. This episode was a bridge, and, while most bridges are pretty to look at, they really don’t do a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, do they?

Overall, I’m still satisfied with the entirety of Season Four. Maybe putting it on my Top Ten List of 2014 was a bit ambitious in the end, but I was very impressed with their ability to completely resurrect a dying show and breathe significant new life into it. I am most disappointed in the finale’s absence of the fantastic Laila Robins as Martha Boyd, the US ambassador to Pakistan. Here’s hoping her story continues into Season Five… with or without her sad-sack husband Dennis (Mark Moses of Mad Men and Desperate Housewives fame).

When Homeland returns in late 2015, here’s hoping their recent resurgence continues and the minor setback of the finale was merely a breather. I’m not sure how many chances audiences are willing to give such a troubled series.

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