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Homeland: Season 8, Episode 9 (In Full Flight) - Review

Homeland: Season 8

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

HOMELAND finally delivered the moment we all knew was coming in its ninth episode, In Full Flight, the betrayal of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) by Russian agent Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin).

It says something about the predictable nature of this final series that the art of deception looks less an art this time around, and more a foregone conclusion. And that diminishes the impact of a show that once thrived on its capacity for unpredictability.

To be fair to Carrie (and this is cutting her a lot of slack), she wasn’t completely blind-sided by Yevgeny’s deception. She had, it appeared, been partially using him to track down the recorder that proves that mechanical error and not the Taliban resulted in the death of President Warner (Beau Bridges).

But even so, the manner in which the betrayal was depicted smacked of Homeland‘s writers placing it at the end of an episode to heighten tension ahead of the next instalment. Instead, it delivered no more than an incredulous roll of the eyebrows and the desire to just get on with it.

The retrieval of the flight recorder did confirm one thing: that the downing of the US helicopter was, indeed, caused by malfunction rather than missile. But with Yevgeny now in possession of it, and only Carrie’s discredited words for proof, will Saul (Mandy Patinkin) be able to persuade new US President Ben Hayes (Sam Trammell) and his snake-like adviser John Zabel (Hugh Dancy), to back down from their aggressive stance towards Pakistan before it’s too late.

This is the question that now underpins the final episodes of Homeland‘s last hurrah. Who will emerge as the hero? Saul, orchestrating things now back in Washington? Or Carrie, by retrieving the recorder [again] and finally getting one over her Russian nemesis, Yevgeny?

As ever, the scenes involving Carrie did – in my opinion – carry less dramatic weight than those involving Saul in Washington, or even those involving Pakistani ISI agent Tasneem Qureshi (Nimrat Kaur)’s attempts to dissuade Jalal Haqqani (Elham Ehsas) from waging war against America.

For it’s in the political wranglings that Homeland carries most interest. This final series has been devised to ask whether the world – and America, in particular – has learnt any lessons from the mistakes that followed the response to 9/11, while also using imagined scenarios to shine a light onto certain things that happened in that post-9/11 environment.

It also shows how power drives policy throughout the world, with dubious ethics and morality at the heart of many poor decisions. And it highlights just how fragile peace can be.

Certainly, Homeland seems to hold out little faith in America’s capacity to act correctly, while also casting doubt on Pakistan’s nobility. True, it’s decision to play out things against the backdrop of a peace treaty between Afghanistan and The Taliban seems a little inert given the real-life position that sees such a treaty hold.

And its decision to cast US President Hayes as a pathetic leader incapable of forming his own decisions, but all the more dangerous for it, has echoes of the Trump administration’s continued dangerous ineptitude. But where Hayes is a puppet president, Trump is the opposite: someone incapable of listening to the advice of his advisors, who continually acts in his own best interests.

With that in mind, Homeland is now firmly operating within the imagined world rather than the real one and its creative decisions feel much more contrived as a result.

It’s even open to debate, now, whether the writing behind this series will even completely make sense. What is Yevgeny’s end game, for instance? Surely, it cannot solely be the recruitment of Carrie. She is a liability that neither the US or Russian government would particularly want as an asset.

And even if events contrive to somehow have Carrie save the day for the US, her history suggests she should be side-lined from any active involvement in future missions: her misplaced trust in various colleagues throughout Homeland‘s run now having contributed to the loss of many innocent lives, as well as friends and relatives.

So, is Yevgeny’s end game now to prevent a peace ever developing between Afghanistan and the Taliban, even at the cost of possible war? And just how much could all of this have been planned by someone who, by his own admission in this episode, likes to plan ahead? The first question is the one that keeps Homeland‘s final season worth sticking with… just.

Read our review of the previous episode