Homeland (Season 8) ★★★

When Homeland first aired in 2011, it made quite an impact. The first season kept the audience in suspense the whole time as CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) investigated Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) to determine whether he was with al-Qaeda after being missing for eight years in Iraq. The eighth and final season again begins with similar questions but now regarding Carrie.

HomelandCarrie is in rehabilitation after being withdrawn from her medication and held captive by the Russians for several months. As she cannot recall what happened during this time, Carrie undergoes frequent interviews with counterintelligence to try and determine what did happen. At the same time, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) begins his task of trying to establish peace with the Taliban in Afghanistan as the newly appointed National Security Advisor. Despite uncertainties regarding Carrie’s mental health and loyalties, Saul decides that he would like Carrie to accompany him in Kabul to attempt to resurrect negotiations with Abdul Qadir G’ulom (Mohammad Bakri), Afghanistan’s Vice President. Unfortunately, he refuses to agree to any terms offered. Carrie becomes concerned that the Taliban shares information with Russia as she learns her captor, Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin) is involved with G’ulom.

The eighth season of Homeland not only continues from where it left off in season seven but also cleverly reconnects events in earlier seasons, particularly involving the fourth season. One of the most intriguing connections is the return of Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar), as he is now keen to find peace with America. Carrie’s friend and colleague Max Piotrowski (Maury Sterling) also returns, and he too contributes to the story.

The final season may have plenty of twists and turns, but it does also test the levels of plausibility. One example of this is the frequent travelling back and forth between America and Afghanistan, particularly by Saul, which does not seem possible in the short timeframe stated.

Those with expectations of the final season being as captivating as the first and second will be disappointed. Audiences familiar with the initial story arc based on the Israeli series Prisoners of War should view the eighth season as separate from that, although it is overall much more gripping than the previous two seasons, especially when it moves into the final episodes.

Though Homeland has been at the forefront of current affairs for the last decade, now seems the right time for it to conclude. The climax itself will likely divide audiences, but it does seem the most fitting place for the show to end up. Any continuation of Homeland might result in it stretching beyond the implausible to the ridiculous, but setting that aside, this final season offers plenty to enjoy.

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