Homeland Season Six Review

Why would you do something like that for me? – Sekou

Because it’s the right thing to do. Because this whole country went stupid-crazy after 9-11, and no one knows that better than I do. – Carrie Mathison

Most of last night’s episode of Homeland was boring, dull, and uninteresting, but not all. Taken as a whole, the season simply hasn’t been very good, and it’s also been loaded with agenda and political arguments. There were times on Sunday I wondered if the entire point of the series is to come full-circle and turn Carrie Mathison into Nicholas Brody. That in the end, she’s the one with the bomb vest that could take out much of Washington’s elite. I realize it’s an over-simplification and an exaggeration, but so much of what she’s done hasn’t meshed with decisions of the past.

The show focused less on Quinn last night, and while there’s no doubt in my mind his intuition will turn out to be right, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care about what’s happening, because the burn is painfully slow. It will likely end up a much more interesting story, but we’re now four episodes in and whenever I see Rupert Friend on screen, I fight to keep my eyes open. The surveillance is quiet and wooden, and there’s no draw to the storyline. The only reason he’s still alive is because there’s a plan for him, one the writers felt was necessary. They need to get to it, because I’m about to pass out watching the set-up.

Elizabeth Keane is an effective catalyst as a character. She’s an irritant on all-sides, and her motivations aren’t entirely clear, though anyone who doesn’t think she has a sharpened tree-chopping tool to grind with the United States intelligence community is fooling themselves. She and Rob Hemmis are now willing to ask Carrie to put herself at risk of prosecution to create leverage on Dar Adal, who they believe to be a threat to their plan to crush and rebuild the CIA. Keane is very Cloward and Piven about this whole thing, or for the opposite side of the aisle, she’s awfully Steve Bannon in her approach. 

Carrie convinced her not to take action against Iran, and Dar, feeling challenged, leaks information to the New York Times that asserts Keane does have adequate intel, but is electing to do nothing with that information. She accuses Dar of the reveal, and there’s no reason to believe it’s not the case. It’s certainly something that fits with his style of struggle. Adal’s confrontations with Keane and later with Carrie are two highlights of the episode, although much of the dialogue is intended to be weighty, but generally means nothing past the veiled threats from both ends. 

Incidentally, that’s been the case throughout much of Season 6. A lot of important people have been saying a lot of big words that have lost all bite before they’ve had time to take root with the audience. We know on what side people reside, for the most part, but that’s just not enough anymore, not as television writing has become far deeper and more nuanced. 

Sekou is out of jail, his mom is overjoyed to see him, and one of his friends is a real douche about him possibly being an informant or showing no spine when he pulls down the video that could put him back in prison. And then, by the end of the episode, he’s dead. Homeland couldn’t have telegraphed its conclusion more. Following Sekou through the streets made it patently obvious what was to come, but thank god it did, because without it, this season was basically lost. 

He was a dumb kid who thought he was smarter than everyone else, that he could say and do what he wanted, and that each action didn’t necessarily carry with it a reaction. He had to die for his naivete, as sad as it is to see J. Mallory McCree leave the show, because the complexity of his character provided the most compelling content of the season. Now we have an “attack on New York” that gets Saul out of a tricky situation with the Israelis and Etai Luskin (Allan Corduner). My assumption is that Sekou’s murderer is the friend that stared a hole through him both at his party and just before he climbed in his rolling coffin. Nothing has surprised me thus far this season, so I’m sticking to that, although it could be the other friend, the one acting like all the problems are just jokes.

Homeland is still much more concerned with ensuring Muslims and Islam aren’t seen in any way negative. Carrie’s conversation with Sekou doesn’t come without multiple concessions on her part of valid points he’s making about United States foreign policy and military involvement. Again, there’s no balance provided. Carrie tells him to take it down, because it violates the agreement she and Reda Hashem made with the FBI. She doesn’t tell him he’s wrong to have outed Saad Masoud. She’s offended with photos of dead soldiers, but her allegiances are very much in question. However, there was more of a pro-Israel case made when Etai spoke with Saul. Not enough to overcome the plethora of arguments on the other side, but more so than we’ve seen in previous episodes.

As the series has gone further down the political correctness tunnel, it’s also become much less entertaining. Those two things don’t necessarily reflect one another, but having to roll my eyes several times at the heavy handed nature of certain sequences does make each episode more of a slog to negotiate through each week. In general though, The West Wing was still really good, even if you hated the politics. Homeland is now an aged series that seems to have outlived its usefulness. Maybe I’ll be signing a different song in two months, but I highly doubt it. There’s just so much out there that’s…so much better. 

Sekou’s death opens the story possibilities up a bit, and perhaps the action is really going to ramp up from this point forward, but at the one-third mark of the season, we’ve gotten maybe ten minutes of legitimately good television. The acting is still great, and I feel like I say this every week, but the acting is equally strong on so many other shows, and thus Homeland’s no longer stands out above the fray. It probably never did, but in 2017, the work is at its most ordinary level. Now, more than ever, it’s fair to question why, from a creative standpoint, the show exists at all. Monetarily and ratings-wise, there’s no denying its success. But the drop-off in quality and dramatic tension between Season 5 and Season 6 has been remarkable. 

Wrong adjective. It’s been enormously disappointing. But, a little bit of hope came with the final scene, which as sad as it was, couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Without it, we’d all be wondering why the hell we’re even still tuning in each week. A “flash of light” was the key Israeli comment from Etai during the detainment scene, but of course also played into the explosion in the delivery van. It was a powerful end to a season that needed the shot of adrenaline. I’m more interested in Episode 5 than any I’ve seen this year. So, even with a lot of negativity in these words, that’s a positive takeaway.

I’m @JMartOutkick on the tweets and jmartclone@gmail.com in the sheets.

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