Recap: ‘Homeland’ S4E12 Season Finale “Long Time Coming”
And just like that, Homeland Season 4 is over and we have to wait another year until the story picks up once more. The season finale of one of the most up and down runs of the show was quietly powerful, much different than the ending we were expecting after the revelations of the penultimate episode, but once the finale got going and the story’s intentions became more clear, it became a very strong episode. Despite the show’s penchant lately for seemingly resolving big issues in its finales, tying up most of the loose ends, “Long Time Coming” has left us hanging on, setting up at least the first few episodes of Season 5 with precision and an all around tense mood, actually making us want to see what happens next rather than making it difficult to want to stick with it next year.
With diplomatic relations between the US and Pakistan in tatters and Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) back in hiding under ISI protection, Carrie (Claire Danes) has returned home to put her father to rest. The funeral is difficult, but Carrie learns more about her father than she had before, and the show says a tearful goodbye to James Rebhorn. The funeral is not without drama, however, as Carrie and Maggie’s (Amy Hargreaves) estranged mother (Victoria Clark) shows up to play her respects. Carrie is much less accommodating towards her than Maggie, as she can neither forget how her mother left her nor can she forgive her, and Carrie promptly throws her mother out of the house.
The day of the funeral comes, and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) makes a surprise appearance, as Carrie didn’t know if he was safely out of Islamabad. They spend the reception together with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) lamenting Carrie’s loss and the eventsx in the Embassy, and before he leaves, Quinn kisses Carrie. She pulls away, but Quinn gives her something to think about when he tells her once again that he is out of Dar Adal’s (F. Murray Abraham) assassination squad for good and that she should leave the CIA and be with him. Carrie is non-committal, unfortunately, but tells Quinn that she’ll consider it, her biggest doubts about a relationship stemming from why her mother left her father. Carrie sits up all night contemplating her mother and her sudden reappearance and decides to pay her an equally unexpected visit. Leaving her daughter once again, Carrie goes to confront her mother, but not everything goes as planned when she is faced with yet another surprise: she has a half-brother.
Back in Washington, Quinn is met at his apartment by one of his team who tells him about a highly dangerous upcoming mission in Syria. Quinn tells him that he’s out and that he is staying out, but his friend pushes him, making it clear that they are likely to lose men if he doesn’t join up. Quinn stands firm, and his friend hands him a small pile of letters to be given out if they should die. With Carrie in Missouri dealing with her mother, Quinn calls her for an answer to his advances while he wrestles with his guilt, silently begging her to make it impossible for him to go. Carrie continues to be evasive about a relationship but gives pretty strong signals that she will say no. Quinn hangs up, resolve clouding his features.
Continuously looming over everyone’s heads is the Senate hearings regarding how things went so wrong in Islamabad and the inevitable resignation of Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts). Not one to be left on the sidelines anymore and fired up because of his captive experience, Saul wants back into the CIA in any capacity, but he knows that his capture by Haqqani and the resulting video demanding a prisoner exchange doesn’t bode well with the selection committee. However, his old confidant, Dar Adal meets with him and shows him the damning tape, telling Saul that he can orchestrate everything to get him back in the big chair as the video will never be released. He confirms his involvement with Haqqani, stating that in return for the tape he promised the Taliban leader that his name would be removed from the CIA kill list. Saul calls Adal on his sedition, refusing to be a part of it, but Adal makes his and Haqqani’s offer too good to pass up.
Carrie finally has a rigid heart-to-heart with the woman who abandoned her, and she realizes that her mother left not because of her father’s bipolar disorder, but because she was just as selfish as Carrie is. Her mother reassures her that being bipolar is not a death knell for relationships, and Carrie determines to say yes to one with Quinn. When she calls him with her news, all that meets her ear is a notice of disconnect. She tries texting him but to no avail as well, and begins the long drive home. In a military hangar, Quinn steps into the role of assassin once more, handing over the pile of condolence letters to “the new guy”, the top one his own with Carrie’s name written on it.
Carrie returns home and her first port of call is Dar Adal’s house, and he confirms that Quinn is on a mission and unreachable. Carrie doesn’t believe him and demands to talk to him, but when Adal stands firm adding that Quinn and his team are completely on their own without US support and no official exit strategy, she pulls her trump card and reveals that she knows that Adal was in the car with Haqqani when he escaped. Adal still doesn’t budge and Carrie threatens to take his treasonous actions to the press, but Adal still isn’t scared. He tells her to talk to Saul first and leads her to his patio where her mentor is sitting looking begrudgingly resolved. Carrie leaves in disbelief.
For such a quiet ending to the season, “Long Time Coming” packs a punch. We were expecting quite a bit more action than we were given along with a different location, but the tension as we waited for something to happen to Quinn was palpable, even if it eventually came to nothing. This finale was much more about examining the repercussions of the action packed penultimate episode and setting us up for Season 5 rather than resolving anything, an interesting move but one that somewhat paid off. “Long Time Coming” wasn’t a perfect episode by any means, and it definitely felt slow at times, but everything that happened had an underlying purpose, and it rounded out a season that wasn’t the strongest but certainly took the reins back from the poor quality of the previous two seasons.
We learn a lot more about why Carrie is the way she is in this episode, and we also see her begin a slow journey to move past the problems she has made for herself and to become a stronger person (hopefully a stronger character). Bringing her estranged mother that she has much deeper issues with than her sister into the mix was an interesting move, because for so long we have only seen Carrie as an overly selfish, messed up woman that we didn’t like or relate to, especially in the past few seasons. But introducing her mother in relation to her rest of Carrie’s family gives us more of an understanding about her character, which was definitely needed. It doesn’t make her any less annoying at the moment in her selfish capacity, but it does mean that we can degrade her a little less for it.
The moment that has indeed been a long time coming finally took place as Carrie and Quinn at least admit that they have feelings for each other. Throughout the whole episode, however, especially after their make out session we felt uneasy for Quinn, because surely Carrie cannot have her happy ending. The good side to any possible relationship between them is that they do truly belong together, and this wasn’t an Aayan and Carrie forehead slap moment in the show. They are two equally damaged people who know the score and each other, and Quinn can be for Carrie what Brody could never really be: a kindred spirit. Keeping Quinn’s fate open ended in the finale is key because we don’t know how long a time jump there will be between this season and the next, or if the story will pick right back up where “Long Time Coming” has left it, but it keeps Rupert Friend in the game for now along with giving us something to look forward to next year.
The more interesting bit of plot development, however, comes from Saul and Dar Adal’s storyline as Saul does something we didn’t think this season’s Saul Berensen would do as he makes a deal with the devil to get what he wants. This isn’t a complete 180 for Saul though, as being held captive by those you despise for everything they are and facing down death every way possible has more than likely made a change in how he looks at the world. It’s a big move, but he was fighting it all the way until he realized that there was no alternative. However, the question has to be raised as to why the tape of him captive is as damning as it is. The logic behind why evidence of Saul’s captivity leaking for all to see is as dangerous as it is wasn’t really explained beyond Saul acknowledging that he would be made a target for scrutiny. The most likely reason is that the free world would question if he is another Nicholas Brody, a captured American who has been turned and now sits in a position of power, but if that was the case it wasn’t voiced. Beyond that, the tape seems to be merely a plot hole used to put Saul at moral odds with Carrie and to make us question as the audience if he is perhaps using Adal and Haqqani for his own purposes down the line next year. If that is the case, then Saul’s got it all figured out, but the way the show has been playing out, that twist is a long shot.
The last few episodes of Season 4 proved that Homeland indeed was given a much needed revamp, but overall this season has had some serious ups and downs to it, from the boring to the groan worthy back to nearly edge of the seat action and drama. The show slowly managed to claw its way back from the doldrums of Brody’s family and put the season firmly in Carrie’s hands. For most of the season, however, we questioned if Carrie is a protagonist we wanted to watch every week, and at the end of this season we are still questioning whether she is even a character we really like. But, “Long Time Coming” did manage to make her story and the story of Homeland a little more intriguing and something we at least are willing to try again next year.
“Long Time Coming” (4 / 5)
Homeland Season 4 (3 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Showtime)