Sunday night's season 6 finale of Homeland was, as always, spectacular: pulse-pounding, smart, heartrending, and leaving us wanting more. But after the screen faded to black — as Carrie (Claire Danes) stood across the mall from the White House, wary of her country's future, as per usual — I had to wonder: did our commander-in-chief just see that? My next thought: shit, I hope not. Here's why. [Spoilers ahead!]
All season, we've tracked an insidious plot to discredit and disempower the president-elect Elizabeth Keane. Last night, the depth and breadth of the conspiracy to take down Keane (politically and literally) was revealed. Following the assassination attempt, we fast-forward six weeks, into day 36 of the rocky Keane presidency. Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and his co-conspirators throughout the government were arrested.
But the paranoid and vengeful Keane's investigation has clearly gone way too far, expanding the Patriot Act to probe government agencies and arrest perfectly innocent intelligence officers and elected officials — including Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who actually saved her ass more than once. Worse that that, she shuts Carrie out. We see Carrie banging on the Oval Office door, but Keane doesn't want to hear her advice anymore. In fact, she doesn't want to hear counsel from anyone, besides her insidious looking new chief of staff. Keane has decided what the story is and she refuses to even listen to anyone who contradicts that. She can run the country herself, thank you very much.
Remind you of anybody else? Keane's distrust of her own intelligence community mirrors the breakdown of the relationship between Trump and our intelligence community, to an uncanny degree. Trump has flat-out denied the CIA's report that Russia tried to interfere in the election in Trump's favor. He called their findings "ridiculous" and "fake news" — and compared the CIA to "Nazi Germany." He also refused to believe the FBI and NSA's statements that there is no evidence that President Obama wiretapped him. Trump views all the leaks to the press as disloyalty among his government. And, in a general sense, Trump has a habit of favoring his own facts and handpicked advisors, like Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, over counsel from senior and much more experienced officials.
Likewise, intelligence and Pentagon officials have been quoted on and off the record as saying they are concerned about their agencies' futures under Trump, and wouldn't trust him with sensitive information. Trump's attempts to discredit them are no doubt maddening.
Anyone who thinks it's alarmist to compare this scenario to the one on Homeland hasn't been paying attention. The widening chasm between Trump and his own intelligence community is unprecedented and troubling, to say the least. Homeland's all-0ut war between the White House and the intelligence community is simply further down the line with where we are now. Keane is getting revenge on anyone she doesn't trust or care to listen to.
Could Trump's accusations against the intelligence community turn into actions to punish it? Is Trump, the man with a history of creating conspiracy theories and getting petty with his dissenters, really above that? At least on on Homeland, the president has reason to be paranoid about a government-wide conspiracy and shut out her own people. If only we had a Carrie Mathison IRL to save us from ourselves.