Well, that was certainly anticlimactic.
Despite the many avenues that could have been taken, Homeland Season 5 Episode 12 took the road untraveled (and undesired) to deliver an incredibly unsatisfying finale.
The hour was underwhelming even with two (likely) character deaths, and the first thing I did was head back my review of Homeland Season 5 Episode 1 to see how things could have gone so terribly wrong. Let's take a look.
The following paragraph is a summation I wrote after briefly detailing the reintroduction of Carrie, Saul and Quinn in the premiere. It was years later and they were in a different place. The show was ready to break new ground:
Through these three characters, Homeland Season 5 is opening up to viewers the current state of world affairs, including talking points on Syria, the mass exodus of refugees, international security and wikileaks and more. If you were concerned moving away from the hot zone of the middle east would cause a decrease in dramatic tension, those worries can safely be stored away.
Those were fairly lofty goals that just were not attained. The topics were brushed with only the widest strokes. Homeland's very first topical intent was to try to show us how an American soldier could have been persuaded to side with the enemy during captivity, to become a terrorist against the State and to come home with a completely different mindset.
That story got awfully convoluted at times, but we learned enough about Brody during Homeland Season 1 that it was easy enough to buy into what they were selling. Early on this season we saw Quinn killing ISIL recruiters. We saw the state of the refugee affairs in Syria when Carrie and Otto visited the border. They weren't touched upon again.
But worse were the bigger topics. Allison the traitor and Russian mole within the CIA and the stolen CIA documents. Essentially, nothing became of these stories. There was a whole lot of build up and a sharp slope that dropped the stories off the edge.
Although neither of those were as bad as the story that probably killed Quinn. He was (likely) killed by a sarin gas that filled a single bomb that Carrie individually stopped by spotting one man inside a massive train station who then hoped to use the power of Allah to stop his crazy cousin from his murderous terrorist plan.
Also in my premiere review, I made note of Quinn's state:
Quinn's worst nightmare has come true. He's total darkness, a killing machine. Even when faced with the prospect he no longer has the backing of his or his host country to carry on his mission, he will do it anyway. Perhaps it's the only way he feels alive, taking lives of others.
Dar Adal said pretty much the same thing about him in the finale. Lying in a hospital bed with his brain turned to mush was Quinn's worst nightmare. It really did come true. In a letter to Carrie, Quinn admitted he became darkness and that he brought it on himself, migrated toward it. But he did love Carrie. So she hoped to put him out of his misery.
That's not how I would have expected Quinn to die, but if he was willing to die for Carrie earlier in the season, there is probably nobody he would rather have take his life than her at that particular moment. It's a shame we never learned about him at 16 until he was dying, and it wasn't his story to tell.
But Homeland lost focus with Quinn. As I noted more than once this season, he became the new Brody. It seemed nobody had any idea what to write for him, so he became the show's punching bag, the ultimate woman on the train tracks, always in peril. Even if he survived, what story is left for him that will make sense?
Is it possible that the bright light shining through the window signified to Carrie a reason to stop? That Quinn was in God's hands and would survive? Sure. But if they had little use for him this season, what use would they have for him next? This was as great a swan song as his character is likely to get.
It was fitting that Saul took Allison's life, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull and unrewarding hour. Saul's chat with Ivan was interesting. I wouldn't have imagined him a champion downhill skier. But I'm glad Saul got to ask whose idea it was for Allison to come onto him. It would have been too much never to know.
I'm sure there was a lesson in the whole Laura story, but the one that came to my mind was that by jumping the gun and going onto television to show her hand for a cause that wasn't really the right one, she wound up branded. She could have made a difference, but her bad attitude and lofty goals got the better of her.
It was also interesting to learn Numan was having his visa checked every six months. That wasn't the smartest route to take inside the country that was providing you asylum. Bite too many hands and who is going to feed you? Fight the right fight, not every fight.
We never even learned what of value was in those documents other than the Oriole connection between Carrie and Allison. Perhaps nothing at all.
And while Jonas let go of Carrie, it freed her up for Otto, who really did fall in love with her. I think. He's certainly in love with the idea of her and her strength. He apparently misses her crying at the drop of a hat, as he wants to share all that is his world with her.
That wasn't Carrie's only proposal, but the only one up in the air. She firmly told Saul she wasn't interested in going back to the CIA even with as much leeway as possible. That's just not who she is anymore. Yet the more she protested, the more I expected her to be right back in the CIA either before Homeland Season 6 begins or shortly thereafter.
Was this everything you were hoping for in a finale? Did the stories wrap up well and leave you wanting more? Do you think Quinn is dead, or alive and brain damaged? Or alive and recovered? Share all of your thoughts in the comments.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.