×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Homeland’ Finale: The War at Home Comes to Head in ‘Paean to the People’

The hot war in a politically and culturally polarized nation comes to a climax tonight with the season finale of “Homeland.”

The Showtime drama has stayed close to home for the most part in its seventh season. Claire Danes’ intrepid ex-CIA officer Carrie Mathison has been waging an increasingly desperate battle against fake news, political provocateurs, wily Russians, disillusioned FBI traitors, and ideologues and opportunists on Capitol Hill.

Mandy Patinkin’s Saul Berenson has gone from a federal prison at the start of the season to an office in the West Wing as the National Security Advisor to the embattled President Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel).

The fourth episode of the season, “Like Bad at Things,” eerily reflected the national debate on gun violence as a standoff between the FBI and a red-state family harboring right-wing firebrand Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber) erupted into a massacre fueled by stockpiles of automatic weapons. Keane has fended off efforts to force her to resign under the threat of being declared unfit for office via the 25th amendment.

Carrie has been fighting on two fronts this season. Her personal life is once again a mess. The medication she takes to control her bipolar condition has lost its effectiveness, leading her to breakdowns and erratic decisions even as she gains occasional flashes of insight into the macro-scheming that surrounds her.

By season’s end, Carrie has begrudgingly given up custody of daughter Frannie to her older sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves), after several disturbing incidents make it that clear Carrie’s priorities are clouded by her mission and her lack of effective medication. In last week’s penultimate installment, Carrie and Saul are back together as we know them best, plotting a covert operation that will save the Republic, at least for another day.

Homeland” has faced criticism this season for what some observers see as treading on familiar ground from past seasons with Carrie’s struggles with her disease and the obligations of parenthood. The early episodes of this season in the view of some critics turned on plots that strained credulity even for a high-octane drama thriller.

Lesli Linka Glatter, “Homeland” executive producer and director of the finale episode, “Paean to the People” (written by showrunner/exec producer Alex Gansa), said the show makes no apologies for exploring Carrie’s personal struggles.

“Carrie is a mother and she is bipolar — those issues are never going to go away for her,” Glatter told Variety. “She’s been well-medicated and functional for a couple of seasons but we all know (from research) that there’s a time when the medication stops working.”

For all the anti-heroes that populate TV dramas, the decision to make Carrie a mom with spectacularly bad judgment is a bold choice. “There are lots of taboos about not being the good mother,” Glatter said. “Carrie is a complicated, layered woman. It doesn’t mean she does not love her child but she’s pulled in many directions.”

“Homeland” has famously had its finger on the pulse of geopolitical currents throughout its run. This time around, the focus on fake news and the partisan paralysis in Washington, D.C. felt like the most pressing national security issue to tackle, Glatter said. But as ever, there was a sincere effort to depict more shades of gray amid the red vs. blue debate.

“One of the things I love that our show does is have two people in a scene who have completely opposing views and neither is right or wrong,” Glatter said. “There’s not a person in a white hat and a person in a black hat. Hopefully from that you ask yourself questions about what you might think about a subject. That to me is dramatic storytelling in a character-based way.”

Production-wise, “Homeland” made a choice this year to shake up the look and feel of the show by blending different styles of camera work — from dolly shots to hand-held — within the same scene.

“Our world is so divided because people are so entrenched with their own beliefs,” Glatter said. “We made some choices that hopefully emphasize that in terms of camera work. We’ve always used a lot of hand-held camera but this year we mixed things up within the scene. I think it added a lot of tension and anxiety. You feel the human energy in the scene by mixing up different modes.”

For Glatter, who is the supervising director for the series, a big challenge this season was lensing the final two episodes in locations split between the show’s home base in Virginia and a half a world away in Budapest. Glatter called it a “tag-team” effort with director Alex Graves, who helmed last week’s installment, “All In.” Lensing on the finale only wrapped about a month ago.

“We were shooting in Richmond and prepping for Budapest at the same time,” Glatter said. “It’s pretty crazy trying to orchestrate a move at this point in the season. In Budapest it takes a month to get a location approved so even before the (finale) script was locked we were making decisions before we really knew what we were dealing with on a production level. I finished shooting in Richmond, got on a plane the next day and started prep.”

“Homeland” has been renewed for an eighth season, but that doesn’t mean that season seven won’t end on a cliffhanger. There’s been talk from Danes and Gansa that season eight will be the final adventure for Carrie Mathison and Co., although Showtime has yet to confirm any such plan.

Glatter said the future of the series beyond season eight is “not clear yet.” From her perspective, there is a lot of life left to explore with Carrie and Saul.

“Saul and Carrie as characters are profoundly interesting to me,” Glatter said. “I think there are many more stories to tell about what is happening in our world through the perspective of these characters.”

More TV

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Good Morning America

    Jussie Smollett Angrily Denies Complicity in Attack

    Attorneys for “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett issued a statement Saturday denying that he orchestrated his Jan. 29 assault, and saying he is “angered” and “devastated” by recent developments in the case. Chicago police want to interview Smollett, after learning new evidence from two Nigerian brothers who were released on Friday night. Local media outlets have [...]

  • Jussie Smollett Empire

    Chicago Police Want to Talk to Jussie Smollett as New Evidence Emerges

    Chicago police are seeking to re-interview “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, after new evidence emerged in his alleged assault. Smollett has claimed that two men attacked him at 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and put a noose around his neck. The Chicago Police Department has consistently said [...]

  • Five Takes on Canal Plus, Federation’s

    Just Days Left to Catch Canal Plus’ ‘The Bureau’ on MyFFF

    The most lauded of titles on this year’s MyFrenchFilmFestival, UniFrance’s online showcase featured by over 50 OTT services around the world, may not be a film but a drama series. With four seasons aired, and a milestone in world sales on a French TV show, slow-boiling espionage series ‘Le Bureau des légendes’ (“The Bureau”) is [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content