Not with a bang, but with a betrayal: That’s how Homeland saw fit to end the run that saw this show rediscover and reinvent itself. Gone was the plodding, bloated drama; in its place, a sleek spy thriller that seemed determined to keep its audience guessing. This fourth season has seemed at many times like a defiant, even sassy Take That to Homeland‘s oft-criticized shortcomings in previous years—from the elimination of the entire Brody family from the cast, to the unceremonious killing-off of Carrie’s asset paramour with half the season still to go—but this might be its crowning glory: a season finale that spared us the shocking deaths or fiery explosions we’d come to anticipate over the past few weeks.
“Long Time Coming” was dedicated to James Rebhorn, the actor who played Carrie’s father, and it’s her father’s memory that forms the backbone of this season’s final episode. We open with Carrie and her sister looking through the remnants of their father’s time on earth: an array of shoes, a drawer full of matchbooks. In life, these things meant something to Carrie’s father; in death, they become imbued with new meaning, not for any other reason than that they were his.
This parsing of possessions is interrupted by Dar Adal, who shows up on Carrie’s doorstep looking for information as to Quinn’s whereabouts. (“Aren’t you going to ask me in?” he says, which means that we can now add “Dar Adal is a vampire” to our growing list of unlikely but not-entirely-unsupported theories about his motivations.)
Carrie claims to have no news from Quinn, but gets some intel herself. Haqqani is back in the tribal areas of Pakistan and under the ISI’s protection, which according to Adal is much less important than the upcoming congressional hearings surrounding the embassy attack. Later in the episode, we find out why: Namely, Dar Adal is gunning hard to get Saul Berenson back in as Director of the CIA. In a secret meeting at a Waffle House (and other delightful phrases I never expected to be writing in a Homeland recap), Adal pushes a memory card across the table and informs Saul that it contains the only copy of the video of Saul in Haqqani’s custody—which was the only wild card potentially preventing Saul from being a viable player in this Game of Drones. In exchange for the video, Adal removed Haqqani’s name from the government’s kill list, which is apparently just one more thing that Dar Adal can do. He probably has an app for it on his phone. So, Haqqani has now been swiped right, and the last barrier to Saul’s reinstatement is gone… except, of course, that Saul is having none of it, even though what he wants more than anything is to be back at the CIA.
“You know what this conversation is? Sedition,” he says, because Saul Berenson is as incorruptible as his beard is awesome, which is to say, extremely goddamn incorruptible. Also, he’s the vehicle for our one and only glimpse of Tasneem in this episode: She’s on television, declaring good riddance to U.S.-Pakistani relations, which means we probably won’t see her get any cosmic comeuppance for her treachery anytime soon. [Shakes fist.] You win this one, Tasneem.
NEXT: How we met Carrie’s mother.