‘Homeland’ Season 4 Finale or Silence is the Battlefield of Self-Reflection or War Is Over (And That’s Okay!)

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Last night’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Silence. And silence needs no explanation.

Cards out on the table: YES, I APPEAR TO BE THE ONLY PERSON WHO ENJOYED LAST NIGHT’S HOMELAND. (1) I have no shame in admitting it. (2) I was well aware throughout the episode that this may very well be the case. Like you I was waiting around in the silences between the silences for the proverbial shoe to drop. I tweeted at the time that “Every time someone steps into a car and smiles, I swear it’s going to blow up“. But alas, no one blew up. Nor did the CIA operative asking Quinn to join him shoot him in the back and face down into the community pool, either. Nor was Saul not poisoned by Dar Adal over Chicken and Waffles… But see, here’s the thing: I feared it. I imagined it. I wallowed in the expectation of it. In anxiety. In paranoia. We (the audience, as much as the characters) have been in the thick of a personal and violent war in the Middle East for months and in a state of unrelenting and impending horror and mistrust. The season (not the episode) built those expectations into our psyches, and successfully so. And now, it’s just over? Yes. Take a deep breath, and accept it. Eventually war ends. (And that’s a good thing.)

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened.  (source)

Now, is the drama over? No. Dar Adal has Saul on his side and we don’t know what that means. Siding with Haqqani because he is a lesser evil of some sort? Saul retaking his position as CIA Director as Adal suggests? Sure, okay, but to what end? How will Carrie play into it? Quinn in Syria? Is this related to Adal and Saul’s supposed and vague plans? What was in that new goodbye letter to Carrie? (It was not there originally.)

On to the next. Yes, Quinn and Carrie: it happened. Whether you wanted it to or not, it was certainly hanging over their heads in Islamabad since before they arrived. It goes without saying that Homeland isn’t some romantic melodrama, and I think it is fair to say that the season did not play out as such: when it was war time, it was war time. No one was dotting their i’s with hearts in the situation room. Nonetheless these characters function in a loveless world where they put their personal lives completely on hold — sacrifice them really — to keep the rest of us safe. Eventually they need some silence, a passionate kiss on a suburban street corner, an eye-opening experience with the ghosts of Christmas past. It’s not about life and death anymore, it’s just about life.

This is what the land of the living looks like — laughter and lasagna. It may not look like Homeland, or like what you may have expected a Homeland finale would look like, but Carrie could not grow within the bubble of disaster anymore than you or I could. Once upon a time Carrie believed she couldn’t function as a CIA operative because of her disorder, and then she learned better than that. Tonight’s finale was a more personal lesson: being bipolar did not make her unlovable, intolerable, or unmanageable because it didn’t make her father that way either. Breakthrough. Carrie’s ability— no, Carrie’s decision to go out and find those answers for herself because she wanted to know them, made that breakthrough even more powerful. She didn’t bring down a terrorist organization in this finale, but she broke down a wall within herself — or began to chip away at it, anyway. Silence is the battlefield of self-reflection.

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