‘Homeland’ makes the case for an Emmy comeback with a thrilling final season

Homeland” won eight Emmys for its first two seasons, then lost all 19 of its nominations for its next five. The last two seasons were not even nominated for Best Drama Series, but it was through little fault of the show itself and more a product of how the show peaked early with awards, then aged out of consideration. In fact, the seventh season finale was awarded by the Writers Guild of America as the best-written drama episode of 2018. It was able to get this win (and nomination) because a panel-based voting system necessitated that judges actually viewed the content, so its quality was not denied.

“Homeland” returned after a two-year hiatus for its eighth and final season three weeks ago and now eyes the goodbye hug that the Television Academy gave the likes of “Downton Abbey,” “Lost,” “Mad Men” and “30 Rock” — other first-season Best Series winners that dwindled in nominations and wins in their penultimate years. This weekend’s episode gives voters the justification. The last episode provided to critics in advance of the season, the reviews for The Hollywood Reporter, Paste Magazine and TV Guide singled out this installment for its “big moments” that give the season its “hook” after three “pretty straightforward” introductory episodes.

The fourth episode has been explosive in the last several seasons of “Homeland” and this year’s is no exception. The fifth season’s “Why is This Night Different?” ended with the revelation of a double agent and an exploded plane. The title of the sixth’s season’s “A Flash of Light” referred to the exploded van from its climax. The seventh season’s “Like Bad at Things” hosted a misguided and explosive attack on a compound. The fourth episodes of earlier seasons were explosive in the figurative sense, like when Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was finally arrested in the second season’s “New Car Smell” and when the third season’s “Game On” revealed in its closing that the events of the past four episodes were an elaborate cover for Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes) to infiltrate a terrorist cell.

Written by executive producers Patrick Harbinson and Chip Johannessen, the episode is titled “Chalk One Up,” to be followed next week by “Chalk Two Down” from the same writing pair. Directed by returning guest Seith Mann, a feeling of dread hangs over the episode as President Ralph Warner (Beau Bridges) travels to Afghanistan to announce peace. Between making the momentous speech and playing off of Danes as Warner meets Carrie for the first time, it is the series’ best showcase yet for the three-time Emmy winner and justifies the nomination that might have been coming his way regardless. The academy has often been a season behind when it comes to judging “Homeland,” like when they nominated F. Murray Abraham for his single scene as Dar Adal in the seventh season after snubbing him for his heightened role as the main villain of the sixth season. Last season was a meaty one for Bridges in his series debut, as Anderson usurped the presidency. A 16-time nominee, Bridges was most recently nominated for his recurring role on “Masters of Sex” in the Best Drama Guest Actor category that he now contends for fellow Showtime drama “Homeland.”

“Homeland” will conclude in April with a series finale titled “Prisoners of War,” which is also the title of the Israeli series upon which “Homeland” was adapted. Will it spur an awards comeback? Make your Emmy predictions so that Hollywood insiders can see how their shows and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until the nominations announcement on July 14. And join in the fun debate over the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our television forums.

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