As far as series trajectories go, there are few that have had one as variable as Showtime’s Homeland. After a near perfect first season that introduced the world to Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison and made a huge star out of Damian Lewis as former prisoner of war Sgt. Nicholas Brody, the series had to adjust to meet not only the huge expectations of the Emmy-winning first season, but also to stretch what was basically a one-and-done season-long narrative about a terrorist sleeper agent and the spy who loved him into a multi-season arc. The show responded by going all-in on the romance between the troubled CIA agent and the even more troubled man she couldn’t get enough of and took it about as far (if not farther) than many might have thought possible.
Following Lewis’s departure in season 3, Homeland has increasingly turned its attention to the spy game in each subsequent storyline, culminating most recently with a Germany-set season 5 that played more and more like a John le Carré novel than the white-knuckle thriller that was season 1. Although it might have clung too long to the idea of Carrie and Brody being the greatest TV romance since Ross and Rachel (and perhaps still does with Carrie and Quinn), the series has demonstrated some skill in shifting its focus and reorganizing its storylines to try and become a different kind of show over the last two seasons.
And as the series approaches the early 2017 premiere of season 6, one has to wonder how many stories about Carrie Mathison and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) are left for Homeland to tell. Unless you’re Roadies, Showtime has something of a reputation for keeping its shows around for a while (Dexter did eight seasons while Nurse Jackie had seven). And according to Deadline, who spoke with series executive producer Alex Gansa at The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, Homeland will likely call it a day with season 8 as well.
It’s important to note that the comment came from Gansa himself and not from Showtime officially, which the producer admitted would have final say in when the series would actually come to and end – though it seems likely that the premium network is of the same mind, seeing as how they just renewed the show through season 8. But even if by some stretch of the imagination Homeland carries on into season 9 and beyond, it will likely do so without Gansa at the helm as showrunner. Gansa made that clear by saying he would be “done” with the series by that time, provided he was “still standing.”
So the question now is: will Carrie be left standing (if and) when the series comes to an end in season 8? The character has been through the ringer over the past five seasons, dealing with mental health issues as well as her tumultuous love affair with a terrorist sleeper agent who also fathered her child. Then again, the show hasn’t gone easy on any of its characters, as just last season Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) repeatedly almost took a dirt nap, while Saul “The Bear” Berenson has seen his personal and professional life turned upside down more than once. Given each character’s penchant for landing in hot water time after time, it will be interesting to see whether or not their incredible luck runs out when the series decides to call it quits.
Homeland season 6 premieres Sunday, January 15, 2017 on Showtime.