Homeland 6.11-6.12: “R Is for Romeo/America First” Review

Reflections

A Television Review by Akash Singh

NOTE: SPOILERS OCCUR!!!!!!!

A central thoroughfare is critical for the success of narrative structures. Just as importantly, however, the narrative branches that spring out of that central thoroughfare need to be able to hold their own weight, as well. If the branches are weak, they ultimately drag down the central thoroughfare to a certain degree, as well. What season six of Homeland ultimately lacked in spades were strong branches. The season finale, which could have propped those branches up on strong endings, is ultimately unable to do so in spite of its strengths because the branches were far too weak and disconnected in hindsight to take advantage of the suspense and Lesli Linka Glatter’s excellent direction. The central thoroughfare of the narrative was prescient, underscoring the tensions that would inevitable arise between a new President and the intelligence agencies, especially when the President is looking to, in some capacity, fundamentally alter how intelligence agencies operate. The branches, unfortunately, didn’t entirely hold up. Quinn ultimately fell into the Brody trap, dying a season too late. Rupert Friend’s performance has been fantastic, but Quinn’s character arc ultimately felt repetitive, a tired attempt from the showrunners to keep their second leading man around even though it was apparent at times that they had no idea what to do with him. Keane’s arc, which becomes abundantly clear in the show’s closing minutes, is fantastic on paper, but it becomes clearer in hindsight that it simply wasn’t handled with the sharpness and care it required. Carrie’s emotional turmoil lands acutely and in no small part due to how thoroughly terrific Claire Danes is in the role, but it simply isn’t enough to lift the entirety of the season to the heights that were within its grasp.

The politics of Homeland were intriguing this season, politics that were reflective of the show struggling to address the problematic elements of its legacy. Homeland at times has gone to some blunt lengths to eschew the label of ethnocentrism, but the depiction of Beirut in season two for example lent itself to preconceived notions about the Middle East that were frankly unnecessary. On a more important note, as the writers would often go to length to try and negate the pervasive “wisdom” that all Muslims are somehow culpable in extremist terrorism, it was nevertheless notable uncomfortable that Muslim characters weren’t given the same weight as their white counterparts. Fara and Aayan, for example, come to mind. While Aayan’s death was a genuine catalyst for the story, Fara’s death remains that question mark as it was conceivably only written because someone of consequence needed to die in the embassy raid. Sekou’s death, mirroring Aayan’s, was once again a catalyst for the story but yet again it served to underscore how the show simply needs more Muslim characters to give the ideological tint it’s trying to paint more weight. The series has a responsibility to not make the climate around Islamophobia more potent than it already is and having more notable, meaningful Muslim characters that don’t meet tragic endings is critical to the legacy Homeland leaves behind.

The twists at the end of season six were largely well-executed, with the finale in particular benefiting from some phenomenal direction at Lesli Linka Glatter’s hands. As someone like Dar Adal ought to know, plots should be constructed in the most constrained manner possible. Macchiavelli would disapprove of how rapidly Dar’s plans to simply move Keane towards the hawkish intelligence establishment deteriorated into an outright assassination attempt, one that would be blamed upon a mentally unstable Quinn. The plot unfolds in a terrifically suspenseful fashion, even if the outlandish nature of how the plot came together by “America First” is at the back of one’s mind. Quinn ultimately sacrifices himself to save Keane and Carrie, bringing his two seasons’s worth of tortured existence to an end. The tragedy of it all comes into full frame in the final minutes of the season, which truly pack a punch in the gut for a Carrie that was once again coming to terms with some form of stability. While the sequence where Carrie was undergoing a home inspection for the social worker was the most tense, Keane’s turnaround on her promise to Carrie about the consequences the intelligence community would face presents an intriguing pathway for the series as it approaches its final two seasons. Keane’s character trajectory hasn’t been written with the greatest degree of consistency, but her dismantling of the intelligence apparatus is perfectly within character. How she went about it is questionable (such as arresting Saul, for example), but the end result of Carrie being betrayed by yet another institution she served is nevertheless poignant. In a brilliant final shot, the camera rolls back to a Carrie facing the Capitol building, her silhouette seemingly dwarfed by the vastness and intransigence of a system she had served and defended in some part or another for so long, letting her down yet again. See you all next year for season seven.

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (R is for Romeo):

+Deplorable

+“Following the money is quite difficult.”

+“Nicaragua, Chile, Congo, a dozen other places way back to Iran in the 50s…”

+“Truth will have a value and you will have no place.”

-That’s it? The whole “ooh, secret assassin” gets shut out that quickly?

-The explosion was too telegraphed

Great/Not So Great Moments Not Mentioned Above (America First):

+“The orchestra’s already played.” Great line.

+“I’m so glad you said that.”

+“Did she even put her hand on a Bible?”

+“Damn it. I’m worried about you.”

+“This is payback, pure and simple.”

Good

7/10

Episode Title: R Is for Romeo

Written by: Chip Johannessen & Patrick Harbinson

Directed by: Seith Mann

Great

8/10

Episode Title: America First

Written by: Alex Gansa & Ron Nyswaner

Directed by: Lesli Linka Glatter

Image Courtesy: Showtime

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