Regardless of your political bent, those who have been following the news the last three months have probably learned more about our intelligence agencies than they ever knew before. Until two months ago, most of us probably had no idea who sat on the National Security Council, if we even knew such a thing existed. Meanwhile, the “Deep State,” once the obsession of conspiracy theorists, is now a regular topic of conversation within the mainstream news media. I don’t know that many of us understood just how powerful our country’s intelligence agency apparatus was until Trump came to power, and now many of us — myself included — believe that the massive bureaucracy in charge of conducting foreign relations and national security activities is at odds with the President of the United States, who often bypasses his own briefings and seeks his intelligence from cable news.
The knowledge we have gained from watching the news the last three months has, in a strange twist, better prepared us for this season of Homeland, which has seen Dar Adal and the intelligence community attempt to take down a President-elect. It’s unlikely that showrunner Alex Gansa — who, like most of us, was expecting a Hillary Clinton presidency when he mapped out the sixth season (hence, the female President-elect) — could have anticipated the parallels, or that modern politics could have provided storylines as dramatic and as similar as this season of Homeland.
“The secret services are the only real measure of a nation’s political health. The one true expression of its subconscious,” Dar Adal — sitting in prison — tells Saul Berenson in the finale, quoting Graham Greene.
The up-and-down sixth season drew to a conclusion this week as the battle between the nation’s conscious and subconscious came to a head. And while the finale arrived at a chilling end that should give those of us in the real world reason for pause, the episode leading up to the final minutes was sloppy, less an organic progression of events and more a hastily thrown together climactic showdown that fails to fill several truck-sized narrative gaps that opened up this season. However, it does tie up the necessary loose ends and sets up an intriguing seventh season of the Showtime series.
We knew going into the episode that Dar Adal was behind a conspiracy within the military and intelligence community — with the aide of an Alex Jones-like radio personality — to weaken or destroy incoming President-elect Keane, although we never gained much insight into Dar Adal’s motivations other than an unsettling feeling he had about the President-elect. What we learn in the finale, however, is that while Dar Adal set the plan into motion, General McClendon and others within the conspiracy took it further than Adal had ever intended. Rather than politically neuter the President-elect as Adal had hoped to do, others within the conspiracy planned not only to assassinate the President, but to make Peter Quinn their fall guy. Had they been able to follow through on that promise, it would be hard to imagine anyone swallowing the idea that Quinn — in his current state — could have orchestrated a plan to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, much less assassinate the President.
General McClendon’s plan ultimately fails. Adal has an inexplicable change of heart and warns Carrie of his co-conspirators’ plans to assassinate the President-elect. Carrie prevents Keane’s car from driving into a bomb explosion, and Peter Quinn sacrifices his life to save both the President-elect and Carrie by driving them through a military barricade and into safety. For fans of the series, the death of Peter Quinn feels both anticlimactic and like sweet relief. While Rupert Friend has played the role admirably for six seasons, by the end of his run, the character is a ghost of his former self. He has survived so many near-death experiences (including a sarin gas attack and a brain hemorrhage last season) and has suffered so much trauma and brain damage that he has become a liability for the series. And yet, it almost seems unbelievable that a few bullets could to kill a guy who had survived so much before.
While this season’s storyline wrapped a little too neatly with a failed assassination attempt, Quinn’s death, Dar Adal’s indefinite detainment, and Carrie’s promotion to Senior Advisor to the President, the last 5 minutes of the episode brilliantly upended everything that had come before it and provides an unsettling glimpse into our possible political future if our President and the national intelligence community continue on their collision course. President Keane, using the political capital of her assassination attempt, begins dismantling the intelligence community and arresting and detaining senior officials (including Saul) without cause. She also kicks Carrie to the curb, having used her for political cover while orchestrating a coup against her own intelligence community behind Carrie’s back.
In the end, Dar Adal and his hunch about President Keane were right all along; there is something “off” about Keane. She clearly blames the intelligence community for the death of her son and sought the Presidency to enact an elaborate form of revenge. With Keane centralizing power within the executive branch around herself, Dar Adal and Saul detained, and Carrie completely out of power, the seventh season should be an interesting one which might see former members of the intelligence community conspiring to do what Dar Adal failed to do this season: Remove President Keane from power.
What will be most interesting to see, however, is how much next season’s storyline will continue to mirror our own in the real world.