- Critic's Rating - 10/1010/10
“All wars must be sold. Sometimes, that’s the cost of doing business. This whole country went stupid crazy after 9/11.”
After a period of nearly two years – the longest gap between seasons, Homeland returns for the final season in Feb 2020. Inspired by Israeli series Hatufim aka Prisoners Of War, this series has been adapted across multiple nations & languages- apart from US’ Homeland, adapted in India as P.O.W.- Bandi Yuddh Ke & as Rodina in Russia. In the US, Homeland has been highly successful in pulling viewership and as well as ramping-up multiple Emmys, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, Directors Guild Of America, Producers Guild Of America, Writers Guild Of America, People’s Choice, Critics Choice etc. in its kitty.
Homeland Season 8 signals the beginning of an end: as the show undoubtedly & unsurprisingly takes us to the two prominent geopolitical territories & terrorist strongholds- Pakistan & Afghanistan. This is to highlight the climax by arriving at the point of origins: where it all began years back with Season 1 in 2011 when Agent Brody was turned. Hence, it pulls out the various assets from the arena: the Afghan government, the Taliban, the ISI (remember Nimrat Kaur’s badass agent Tasneem Qureishi?), the Haqqani, the Pak military-government complex & as well as Russian agencies into the mix. Homeland has dominated realism with these elements, thanks to the far-reaching impact of America’s “sphere of influence”. The regional players have their own ideologies, own preferences & goals. They are shown interchange sides which are pretty much relevant in the contemporary world.
Surprisingly, in the real world where we all reside, the events in the contemporary world seem to have influenced the screenplay of the final season. On Feb 29th, 2020, the US & Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha, Qatar. This includes the removal of all US & NATO troops from Afghanistan gradually. Meanwhile, Taliban pledged to not allow Al-Qaeda on its soil & resume peaceful talks to establish a government of the people, backed by its nuclear-powered neighbor, Pakistan.
In the last leg, Claris Danes’ bipolar, tortured & unstable Carrie Mathison is still recovering from her wounds of months of interrogation in the Russian jail (Season 7). She is constantly haunted by her semi-recovering memories while she has been given an assignment in Afghanistan to help arrive at the peace process. Afterall, the Season 4’s “Drone Queen” is very much adored but her image was tarnished with the Russian jail term which many CIA agents conclude as being successful i.e. Carrie may have been turned.
Thus begins her journey for salvation and as well as resolving the complex issues which threaten to invade the peace process & at worst aim to start a nuclear war between US & Pakistan. However, things turn ugly episode four onwards when the situation starts to spiral out of control. At last, it all comes down to the thin thread of hope & trust amidst gloom of war, lies & perception. The hope and trust which has been the unbreakable bond between the NSA Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) & Carrie Mathison for a decade now. They have dealt across multiple geographies together: against the turned agent in Season 1 & Season 2, in the middle east against Iranian spy network & the smaller threats, in Afghanistan & Pakistan against the Haqqani network & the ISI lies, in Germany against the refugee influx & ISIS, in the home state US against homegrown terrorism & rampant surveillance, again in the US but this time against the establishment and finally in Season 8 against the lies & blockers of peace pacts.
However, the bond between Saul & Carri seems to gradually rupture away in the heat of lies, conflicting opinions and various mis-steps. The show would boil down to a climax which is undreamt of: a core battle which has enough firepower to melt the bond leading to a catastrophic domino effect. It becomes personal and the question is how far will this go? Who will sacrifice in this unimaginable but inevitable trade-off? At least, it comes to a glorious bittersweet ending.
Apart from the character development, the show equally focuses on America’s internal problems: the advent of the right-wing leaders and their opinion to influence congress and politics as a whole, the in-fighting between various state departments on the definition & treatment of adversaries. One heated-up argument highlights the mentality which has dominated America’s political-industrial-military complex since the end of the Second World War “All wars must be sold”. It explains America’s obsession with terrorism either as a threat or a tool to achieve what’s in its own interest. It also highlights the constant Russian paranoia & nuclear frenzy which had gripped the White House since the Cold War. The fear & destruction is generally created by distrust & misinformation.
As Guardian’s Feb 2020 article highlights “The annual conference of showrunners, stars, the intelligence community and state department officials has been crucial to the show’s prescience. Homeland stayed ahead of the game and ensured that, particularly in its later seasons, there was no more relevant show on TV.”
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Homeland is a masterful far-sighted complex tale, a genius navigator, a pioneer in spotlighting America’s obsession with war on terror which gives its viewers a world tour of linkages spanning across geographies, decades & ideologies while encompassing numerous regional state & non-state players in the arena. Showtime also released a companion documentary The Longest War a day back, focussing on Afghanistan & Iraq. Homeland reinvented itself Season 4 onwards. Homeland will be remembered as one of the finest shows of all time which dominated the genre of the contemporary geopolitical playground. An epitome which will be harder to reset again in future, as it bows out with 96 episodes split across 8 seasons of immersive, expansive & excellent experience!