tue 23/07/2019

Homeland, Series 7 Finale, Channel 4 review - Russian roulette | reviews, news & interviews

Homeland, Series 7 Finale, Channel 4 review - Russian roulette

Homeland, Series 7 Finale, Channel 4 review - Russian roulette

Washington rocked by fake news and cyberwarfare

Crisis management: Elizabeth Marvel as President Keane

In a manner uncannily reminiscent of last year’s Season 6, this latest edition of Homeland spent at least half the series trying to get warmed up for the dash to the tape over the final furlongs. Viewers finding themselves slipping into a catatonic stupor when confronted with yet more bombastic rantings from the crushingly dull ultra-right broadcaster Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), or those uninspired by the personality vacuum that was FBI agent Dante Allen (Morgan Spector), probably left this series for dead weeks ago.

But from episode six, as the shape of the Russian conspiracy to sabotage the turbulent presidency of Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) started becoming clear, Homeland finally pulled clear of the amorphous plotting and vague red herrings that had bedevilled it, and began to look much more like a tough and pacy political thriller. We often complain that British TV series have too few episodes, but lately Homeland has had too many.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that the show’s improvement coincided with Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, pictured above) finally abandoning the unequal struggle to combine espionage work with bringing up her daughter. Much more of her farcically delinquent parenting would have landed her in jail. It also coincided with the resurrection of the Mathison / Saul Berenson double act, which has been its major plot engine in previous series. Having been at tetchy, irritable cross purposes early in the series, now they were back in harness as intuitive covert operative and her shrewd and politically savvy handler, with Mandy Patinkin’s Saul (pictured below) growing steadily more unforgiving and black-hearted.

Their secret mission to Moscow to snatch back Russian undercover agent Simone Martin (Sandrine Holt), who’d been an integral part of the cunning espionage jigsaw aiming to sow mayhem in the White House, was the big set-piece of the last couple of episodes. Even if it was difficult to credit that a team of American secret agents would be free to run around Russia firing machine guns and kidnapping people, the action built to a tightly-screwed climax, as Mathison played the decoy while Saul and his crew dashed for the airport to transport their priceless asset back to the States. Though it was never quite clear how Carrie was so easily able to convince Simone to throw in her lot with the Americans.

Now unrecognisable as the show that began with the story of Marine sergeant Nicholas Brody returning home from years in al-Qaeda captivity, Homeland has evolved into a tense, often prophetic commentary on contemporary America, and perhaps the West in general. The storylines about Russian fake news, phantom Twitter accounts and assorted online chicanery required no suspension of disbelief, and the comment from Russian masterspy Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin) that “as long as the seed of doubt is planted, that’s all I need” spoke volumes about the nature of cyber-warfare. The concluding and highly emotional speech from President Keane about the slow death of American democracy, in a divided country which no longer has “an angel on our shoulders”, deserves to be urgently disseminated as an educational tool.

They say that Season 8 will be Homeland’s last and may be set in Israel, where the show originated and where issues of existential survival are the stuff of daily life. Maybe juice up the early episodes a bit, eh guys?

President Keane's emotional speech about the slow death of American democracy should be urgently disseminated as an educational tool


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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