It’s been a couple of weeks since Season Four of Homeland finished, and I posted on Facebook at the time that I thought this Guardian review was generous.
I posted that the final episode was botched together after they learned that they had got the money for Season 5… and perhaps I should explain that a little more with some wild and completely unsubstantiated speculation...
So let’s imagine it’s early in the first US transmission, and the writing team are meeting to agree the trajectory of the final episodes of Season Four which still have to be shot. The ratings aren’t going particularly well, and it looks like they won’t get the money for Season Five. So they say to hell with it, let’s finish it with a bang…
Let’s kill Saul off before he can get out of Pakistan. Then Quinn kills Haqqani with a pipe bomb attack, and goes down in a hail of bullets. Carrie watches him die helplessly, goes home to mourn him and her father both, but takes on the role of mother to her child after leaving the CIA.
Brilliant! Action packed to the finale, all tied up in a tragic-but-happy ending that makes complete sense with what’s gone before, with Carrie finally out of the self-destructive job. The End.
Then they start showing the episodes with the attack on the embassy, and suddenly there’s a huge surge in ratings. The cash tills ring and the studio execs demand more… suddenly the money is on the table for Season Five. Uh-oh, but everybody dies, or retires! Quick! Rewrite! Reshoot!
So they fudge the last episode and the final couple of minutes of the penultimate one with completely new material. Saul doesn’t die. Quinn is persuaded by Carrie not to blow up Haqqani (really?), and lo and behold – deux ex machina grinding audibly in the background – it’s all ok, the CIA have it covered after all! Dar Adal is in the car with Haqqani!
Implausible. Unlikely. Improbable… and lots of other synonyms.
Then they have to shoot a new final episode, back in the US with none of the locations they have used for the rest of the season. So they come up with the ridiculous mechanic of the mother turning up.
“Good drama tends to let characterisation guide the plot, so to have such a significant figure turn up merely to help Carrie learn a couple of life lessons was very weak indeed,” said the Guardian. No s##t.
I rest my case. And on to the Game of Thrones, which I got for Christmas…