Homeland concluded its critically acclaimed—and narratively refreshed —fourth season Sunday night with an episode that took an uncharacteristically quiet approach. Last night’s hour focused on Carrie (Claire Danes), Saul (Mandy Patinkin), and Peter’s (Rupert Friend) reentry into Washington D.C. after a traumatic tour in Pakistan that resulted in the loss of a regular character (Fara Sherazi). Peter attempted to develop a romantic connection with Carrie, while Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) revealed the CIA’s Faustian bargain with a terrorist leader. Below, Showtime president David Nevins shares some of his thoughts on the unconventional closing episode.

EW: Reaction to the Homeland finale seems split. Some feel disappointed the episode was “slow,” while others found the change of pace a refreshing and unusual approach.

David Nevins: We went out of season three with this massive ending, with the death of Brody. And I think a show with this amount of political and narrative complexity can do a last episode that has a change of pace. I thought they needed to do an episode back in Washington, and needed to deal with Carrie’s family situation and her issues with motherhood. And there needed to be a political conclusion, too, not just an action conclusion. The season had some great action, but at its core it was really a political thriller about America’s place in the world, and how difficult that position is in the 21st century. This season is very much about how America deals with the Muslim world, and what it means that Dar Adal was sitting in the back seat as Haqqani was taking his victory lap in Islamabad. When I first saw it, I told [showrunner Alex Gansa] it was one of the show’s most beautiful episodes.

Yes, I thought there was something clever and almost subversive about it, compared to what we’ve come to expect from serialized, action-y shows. Also, one of the criticisms of past seasons was that the show was too unrealistic in piling on the narrative twists. This felt more grounded and earned than if Carrie, for instance, had stayed overseas and got the bad guy.

Right. It had its action climax already. And that’s what’s so great about the show—it can have different movements. It can be contemplative, it can be angry, it can have all sorts of different directions. Ultimately it’s a show called Homeland, and I thought it was important to bring it back to Carrie’s homeland. If you go back and look at [the season] as an entire movement, it’s an incredibly appropriate episode.

You mentioned that it was important to get Homeland back home. Does that go for season 5 as well?

I don’t think they’ve settled on anything. [Showrunner] Alex [Gansa] is is always very adamant he wants to focus on nothing but the season in front of him. But certainly going somewhere else overseas—they’re not going back to Pakistan—is one possibility.

It’s a classic TV writer dilemma whether to put potential romantic partners together or to try to keep them apart as much as possible. Carrie and Quinn were briefly together last night, then pulled apart. I realize this is more of a question for the writers, but do you have a preference on that?

It’s unclear to me yet whether Carrie’s feelings for Quinn were momentary or deeper. And I don’t think the show is clear on that yet. Clearly, Quinn has had feelings for Carrie for a long time. I don’t want to speculate too much … my preference is that I’m not into the artificially elongated “will they or won’t they.” If you want to do it, go for it. Don’t be cute. My only preference is to try and remain unpredictable and avoid TV cliches.