As Homeland kicks off its 8th and final season on Showtime on February 9, it’s a good time to reflect on its main character, the brilliant yet maddening FBI agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes in a defining role) and all the ways in which she has frustrated, flummoxed, and flat-out driven herself, her colleagues — and viewers — a little crazy. In fairness, Carrie has struggled with mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. Her commitment to medication can wax and wane, but it has not stopped her from arriving at some ingenious revelations. Carrie is gifted, obsessive, relentless, and passionate; traits that make her so good at her job. Unfortunately, those same qualities have also contributed to her making some very, very bad decisions over the years. Let’s review the five of the worst. SPOILERS ahead, obviously.
“How do you know what kind of tea I like?” Let’s face it, there would be no show if Carrie didn’t sleep with Nicholas Brody, a suspected terrorist and the target of her investigation. But having sex with the person you’re spying on is one thing, going on what turns into a romantic weekend getaway and beginning to fall in love with him quite another. It’s Carrie’s fumble about Brody’s tea preference that tears down the walls and begins their bond. Did we mention this is also the first time Carrie starts to go off her anti-psychotic medication? This is the episode that sets the stage for everything that comes after. The things we do for love.
“To me, it looks like you’re f**king a child.” Saul Berenson, Carrie’s mentor, protector, and boss, was never one to mince words and he’s horrified (as we all were) to watch Carrie seduce a very young man, Aayan, in the hopes of catching his terrorist uncle Haqqani. Aayan is vulnerable, trusting, and foolish; he falls completely in love with Carrie in a matter of days. It’s wrenching to witness because we know she’s just using him. The worst part? Aayan leads Carrie and Co. right to his uncle and is shockingly blown up in the process. Carrie is nothing if not committed to her mission, but that was ugly.
“We get out together.” These are the words spoken by CIA partner Peter Quinn to Carrie at her father’s memorial in the hopes of finally consummating this long-simmering romance. After a plea and a passionate kiss, Carrie balks, and says she needs time to think. Heartbroken, Quinn takes this as a flat-out rejection and ends up joining former comrades for a dangerous mission in Syria and Iran. Flash forward two seasons later, and Quinn is basically a shell of his former self after being poisoned by sarin gas. He was never the same — and we’ll never forgive you Carrie.
“She can sleep through anything.” Some might argue that Carrie’s decision to have Brody’s baby was one of her biggest mistakes — to me, that seems too cruel. Desperate for stability, Carrie could be forgiven for choosing to have Franny. But in a season that showcases her god-awful parenting and culminates in a bitter custody battle with her sister, Carrie spirals out of control in “Andante,” as she abruptly and nonsensically removes Franny from safety with no plan or money, and ends up in her old friend Dante’s apartment. As Carrie and Dante cavort on the couch, the FBI busts in, and Franny is pulled out of bed by a gun-wielding stranger and thrown into her naked mother’s arms. Ok, on second thought, maybe having Franny was a mistake.
“I guess I’m done, and we never happened.” Yes, I’m going back to Quinn (yes, he is missed; yes, he was very handsome), only because I truly think his character is largely responsible for reviving the show after Brody died. After the sarin gas poisoning, Quinn is damaged so badly it’s next to impossible he will fully recover — and he will certainly never return to his bad-assassin glory — and Carrie knows it. At the end of season 6, the show closes with her next to his hospital bed, pillow in hand, prepared for a mercy killing. Although it doesn’t look like Quinn will return for season 7, he does, and we viewers have to watch him lose every ounce of self-respect before sacrificing himself saving Carrie’s life. She didn’t deserve him.
Find out what bad decisions Carrie will make this year when the final season of Homeland premieres Sunday, Feb. 9 at 9pm ET on Showtime. Don’t have Showtime? Click here to add it to your Sling TV package.