Oh, Homeland. Homeland, Homeland, Homeland. This is why we can’t have nice things; because you go and do a thing like that. Last week, at the end of “Krieg Nicht Lieb” I thought, “this would have been a dynamite finale.” Imagine it: after all of that crazy build-up and all of the emotion after Aayan and the slaughter at the Embassy, and Quinn going rogue on Haqqani, and Carrie finally getting her shot at him, and Khan stopping her because of Dar Adal … it would have allowed this season to be a beautiful capsule, and tribute to Homeland‘s glorious resurrection, leaving us hungry for next season. Instead, we got “Long Time Coming.” Hit the jump because “I know how this goes. It ends badly.”
I feel like the Homeland writers had all of this personal stuff about Carrie, and to a lesser extent Quinn, just ready to flood this season, but were told “wait for it … wait for it … they aren’t convinced … wait … now!!” “Long Time Coming” was a flood of information and situations that, only barring a few, no one cared about it. It was like a distilled version of all of the Brody Family Drama from Seasons Two and Three, but the Mathison Family version, packed into an hour. And it ruined the momentum of the season completely.
Let’s break it down: the huge reveal of Dar Adal hanging out with Haqqani was actually revealed to be a way for things to be cleaned up by the CIA after the huge fiasco that Islamabad was for them. They lost there, that was clear, but they didn’t need to lose everything. Dar Adal, who I need to apologize to, apparently, was there striking up a deal with Haqqani. It’s gross and it’s slimy and it’s definitely not morally clear, but it helps the U.S. contain the Taliban from spreading into certain regions. It also assures that the ransom tape with Saul in their custody will never surface.
To this last point I say: who cares? The fact that the Taliban had captured a former CIA director is hugely embarrassing, sure, but why is anyone interested in installing Saul back into power? A lot of what happened in Islamabad, these fuck-ups, where because he didn’t have his shit together. And Dar Adal wants him to lead again? Truly? (Not to mention that apparently his deal with Mira about stepping back and focusing on her career has gone right out of the window, without him consulting her at all — but that’s par for the course).
Still, these machinations had some interest to them, because it sets up Saul & Friends as not being outsiders next season like they have been recently. At the same time, it’s not a dire need; they’re all just fine with Lockhart now, who has become less dastardly by the hour. So Saul’s potential reappointment carried with it almost no weight, and, after what Saul caused the agency to go through this season, not a lot of sense.
Back at the Mathison homestead (a.k.a. Maggie’s house), there were several really nice scenes of Carrie living a normal life. She took Franny to the park, gave a lovely eulogy for her father, and had a great lasagna-and-bourbon party with Saul, Quinn and Lockhart. But then she and Quinn made out, and it was the least sexy thing I’ve ever seen. It was like watching a brother and sister kiss. I thought I could maybe get on board this ship, but I’m setting it on fire and letting it burn away from my memory. And because of that, Quinn going back to black ops was fine. Plus, as Astrid told Carrie, he threatens to get out of the CIA all of the time, and he never does it. I mean, this is a guy who couldn’t wait three days to have a talk with Carrie, and disconnected his phone within the hour to suit up for what seems to partially amount to a suicide mission in Syria and Iraq. Would he really have been content just sitting around changing diapers and binge-watching Netflix? You know Carrie wouldn’t.
Then there’s Carrie’s mother. What did any of that serve? It was already clear that Carrie was starting to have a change of heart about her relationship with Franny, thanks to her father and her father’s love for her and for Franny. This whole exchange with her mother, the secret half-brother, the affairs, her mother saying don’t blame your dad … what did this do for anyone? If it was to get Carrie to the point where she was suddenly convinced that she and Quinn should settle down in a Missouri homestead and raise Brody’s kid together, in the words of Saul, “fuck that.” This isn’t the show we’re watching.
And frankly, that’s what “Long Time Coming” amounted to — an episode of a show that didn’t belong here. All season, Homeland has woven together an intricate narrative tapestry against a tumultuous Pakistani background that, though it had moments of falling apart (Carrie seducing Aayon, her hallucination of Brody), it ultimately stayed its course and became increasingly more engrossing with every episode. Then things came to a screeching halt. It’s not just about the fact that Carrie was back in the States and doing normal things — that actually was kind of great, and an interesting juxtaposition. But almost none of the characters from this season returned in the finale, and instead, we were introduced to someone new. Most importantly, though, the episode felt like it in no way fit in with the rest of this entire season.
I have a history of giving Homeland chance after chance after chance, and “Long Time Coming” hasn’t changed that. I’ll still look forward to next season, and what the show is cooking up. But it also cannot be overstated how much “Long Time Coming” soured that feeling, and gave the wrong coda to a season that was, otherwise, the series’ best.
Episode Rating: D
Season Rating: A-
Musings and Miscellanea:
— Someone on Twitter said they would watch a show of just Mandy Patinkin and F. Murray Abraham sitting around, chatting, and eating pancakes. I would also like to add poolside chats to that.
— Speaking of which, how lovely was Dar Adal’s home? I almost never mention the set design on Homeland, but it’s really, really good. So is the wardrobing. Although I wonder when Carrie finds time to shop, as it seems her lowest possible priority.
— Why didn’t Maggie go to Missouri if she wanted to see her mother so badly? Didn’t she already assume Carrie would probably not have a good experience there?
— So the whole Dar Adal thing was really just a red herring; he was just cleaning up after Saul and Dennis-The-Traitor’s mess.
— I really wanted to see what the fallout was with Martha/Dennis, how Max is doing, what Khan is up to, etc. Although I was highly amused and appeased by Lockhart showing up with lasagna! That may be one of my favorite Homeland moments to date.
— Quinn is cute, him holding Franny was adorable, him washing dishes was so sweet, and him offering to fly out to be a support to Carrie was lovely. Him actually kissing Carrie was somehow so wrong, though. I love their friendship, but there is no sexual chemistry between them at all. He had more with Maggie than he did with Carrie.
— I’m sure on reflection I’ll pull together some kind of idea about home and family and “leaving” and whatever the writers were trying to accomplish with “Long Time Coming,” but honestly, the first, gut, visceral reaction is that this was not good.
— “Wow, you really shared” – Carrie to Frank’s park friend.
— “We have to see moments for what they really are. Not every choice we make is blessed with moral clarity” – Dar Adal.
— Apparently sometimes, we do negotiate with terrorists.
— “Humph. Fuck this” – Saul.