‘Homeland’ finale recap: Who’s paranoid now?

Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) try to save the president in the Season 6 finale of Showtime's 'Homeland.'
Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) try to save the president in the Season 6 finale of Showtime's 'Homeland.'

Spoiler alert: The following story contains significant details from Sunday’s Season 6 finale of Showtime’s Homeland.


In the end, there was nothing gray about Peter Quinn’s departure from Homeland. The author of so many nefarious deeds done in the name of his country died a clear-cut hero.

Although Sunday’s Season 6 finale dealt with a presidential assassination attempt and the prospect of an internal government coup (One Sunday in April sure feels like Seven Days in May), fans of Showtime’s intelligence thriller will always remember it for the passing of Quinn (Rupert Friend), a killing machine troubled by having a soul.

That Quinn survived last season’s nerve-gas poisoning and a subsequent stroke initially seemed a stretch, but the character showed that, even hampered by psychological and physical issues, he still was more capable than most. More important, Friend’s portrayal illustrated the sadness and loneliness of Quinn, who loved but could not have colleague Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes).

But let’s get to the events that resulted in Quinn’s goodbye at the close of a season that improved as it went along, shifting from perceived outside threats to real internal ones. The first half of Sunday’s season finale is action film, with intrepid Carrie and stalwart Quinn rushing to President-Elect Keane’s New York hotel, hoping to fend off an assassination attempt by a government paramilitary unit.

At the same time, CIA prince of darkness Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), who’s in on the conspiracy to destroy Keane’s presidency but apparently not to kill her, is doing a little enhanced interrogation of his own, chaining a U.S. senator in a restaurant refrigerator to find out why Quinn is being set up to take the fall for the assassination.

Dar, one of TV’s great villains, reveals a scintilla of humanity when it comes to his one-time recruit, Peter. He loves him and he’s not going to let him be used. You think you know someone, huh?

As Carrie and Quinn get back to the hotel, it’s surrounded by angry protesters, perhaps stirred up by the fake social-media army created by TV hothead and conspiracy theorist Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), who’s been working with Dar to undermine Keane. Carrie goes inside the hotel; Peter scouts events from the street.

Gen. McClendon (Robert Knepper) and his assassination unit report a bomb in the hotel as a way to flush the president onto the street. Even Dar can’t persuade him to stop.

After two armored SUVs leave the hotel’s garage, Carrie steps in the way of the third, which contains Keane, after Dar calls and tells her of the assassination set-up just before one of the vans blows up outside. Carrie and Keane hurry through the building, seeking to evade McClendon’s murderous operatives, before meeting Quinn, who ushers them back into the SUV.

He drives from the garage and floors the vehicle toward an armed phalanx, getting his own Bonnie-and-Clyde moment as a barrage of bullets shatters the van’s protective windshield. (The covert assassination attempt went on a bit long, losing all elements of secrecy along the way.). Quinn, hit in the process, speeds away before losing consciousness and hitting a car. Carrie, protecting the president in the back seat, discovers he is dead.

The second half of the finale, less violent but just as scary, jumps six weeks into the future, with Keane in the Oval Office; conspirators, including Dar, in military jail; and O’Keefe still free and ranting to listeners about the president’s expansion of the Patriot Act.

Carrie, working temporarily for the president, tries to calm mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and other intelligence officials worried about Keane’s wrath. Keane offers Carrie a full-time job as presidential adviser, which Carrie would like to accept once she checks with the family-services officer handling custody of her daughter, Franny. (Come on. The president couldn’t resolve an investigation started by an anonymous complaint from Dar?)

Saul visits an imprisoned Dar, who still suspects the president but admits he overstepped. “It was never my intention for things to turn so dark. Ultimately, I lost control of what I set in motion.” Wit Homeland renewed for two more seasons, we hope — and expect, considering his shady skills — that this isn’t the last we see of Dar.

After the child-services officer awards her high marks for a home visit, Carrie finally starts to clean up Quinn’s gear. She finds a stash of his most beloved photos, including some of his rarely discussed son, John Jr., and the boy’s mother — and one of Carrie. She breaks down.

Later, Saul calls, shocking Carrie with the news that he and other intelligence officials are being arrested. Apparently, the government takeover is now based in the Oval Office, as Keane, likely spooked by the assassination attempt and media attacks on her late war-hero son, is using NSA data and favorable Justice Department legal opinions to clean out government officials she suspects were part of the conspiracy.

As Carrie, feeling used, shouts from outside the Oval Office, Keane sits alone within.

The picture of an isolated and perhaps paranoid Keane raises, in exaggerated form, questions asked after every election of a new president: Do we know who we just elected and how will the office change the person? (Producers didn’t know whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would become president when they planned the season.)

Carrie, escorted out of the White House by the Secret Service, ends the season looking at the U.S. Capitol, echoing a view seen by long-gone POW Nicholas Brody, confused for very different reasons, in the first-season opening credits. Carrie wonders if she knows her country. She looks like she’s about to cry.

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