Homeland delivers a nail-biting series seven finale – but what does it mean for Carrie Mathison?

The ending to Homeland’s seventh series has left us with a lot of questions – what’s next for Claire Danes’ tortured heroine? What are the writers planning for the eighth and final series?

Claire Danes in Homeland (Channel 4, EH)

* WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Homeland series 7 episode 12 *

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Homeland series seven came to an ever-dramatic close on Sunday night, with a triumphant victory for Saul’s team – made bittersweet by Carrie’s entrapment in Russia.

It was a furious, wig-wearing race against time to extract Russian operative Simone from Moscow, before her handler and boyfriend Yevgeny realised that she had escaped with Saul and he was in fact chasing after the wrong woman: the fearless Carrie.

Simone (who had donned a blonde wig) and Saul faced serious obstacles en route to their plane out of Russia, and they made lift-off by the skin of their teeth before Yevgeny finally realised that he had been fooled by Carrie in a brunette wig.

Back in Washington, Senator Paley was sent to prison for colluding with the Russians and attempting to sabotage Saul’s mission. And Elizabeth Keane, after months of refusing to be bullied out of the White House, made a shock decision to resign the presidency.

Fast forward to seven months later, and we discovered that Carrie had been held in a cell by Yevgeny all that time, refused medication for her bipolar disorder. We saw her being exchanged for high profile Russian prisoners at the country’s border with Estonia, and when Saul finally took her in his arms, Carrie was agitated, twitching, and didn’t even seem to recognise her mentor.

The next time we meet Carrie will be in Homeland’s eighth and, according to Claire Danes, final series. Here, we answer all the questions we can, and speculate on the rest…

What will happen to Carrie in series eight?

Claire Danes in Homeland (Channel 4 screenshot, EH)

Logically, what should come next for Carrie is some serious treatment and recovery time, to try and undo those tortuous months she spent without her medication.

Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa, however, told Entertainment Weekly there is likely to be a “big time jump” between series seven and eight and that he hopes to base the next season in Israel.

This implies that Carrie’s recovery process could be skipped over entirely, and that when we rejoin her she will be back on form, working on a mission in the Middle East. We can only imagine this would also involve Max, who has been with Carrie through thick and thin and who we could see was anxious about getting Carrie back from Russia in the series seven finale.

If that is the case, it’s unlikely she will be spending much time with her sister or daughter Frannie who, at the beginning of the series seven finale, Carrie promised she would come home to.

Gansa added: “We get to play a story with larger national stakes in season seven and we’ll go back to a smaller intelligence-based season in eight. We get to pull out all the stops this year and then get to the emotional heart of things in season eight.”

The phrase “emotional heart of things” could suggest that the show will hone in on Carrie and Saul’s complex relationship, her personal struggles with bipolar and her role as a mother.

What does the future hold for Saul?

Mandy Patinkin in Homeland (Channel 4, EH)

Having served as National Security Advisor for President Keane, it is uncertain what Saul’s position will be under the leadership of new president Ralph Warner.

It seems likely to be a position of power, given that Warner refused to sabotage Saul’s Russia mission when pressured by Senator Paley, instead telling him to “Get the f*** out of my White House”.

Also, Saul was clearly in a high ranking role when, after seven months of presumed Warner presidency, he had the authority to exchange three Russian prisoners for Carrie.

What will happen inside the White House?

Beau Bridges in Homeland (Channel 4, EH)

Antics inside the White House walls were a huge focal point of series seven, and some scenes between Keane and her aides – and nemeses – verged on ludicrous. But it sounds like series eight is going to veer away from Washington.

Gansa said that the plan is to “put any Trump parallels behind us” and “tell a very contained story, hopefully in Israel”. This suggests we won’t be seeing much of the new Commander in Chief and that the final series will be centred around a mission masterminded by Carrie and Saul – or at least that’s what we’re hoping for.

Some of Homeland’s strongest series have been set abroad – namely in Islamabad and Berlin – so fingers crossed we’ll be seeing the political thriller off on a high note.

Will Homeland really end after its eighth series – or could it continue without Claire Danes? 

Claire Danes in Homeland (Channel 4, EH)

Gansa is definitely departing the show after series eight, and Danes recently said the same, replying “yeah, that’s it” when asked by presenter Howard Stern.

Showtime, however, is yet to confirm the series will end. No decision has been made about Homeland beyond series eight, implying that the network is hesitant to bid farewell to one of its longest-running dramas.

Given Homeland’s flexible nature, in that it deals with different storylines and locations each series, the idea that it could continue with a new cast sounds plausible enough.

Gansa’s fellow Homeland’s co-creator, Howard Gordon, has remained quiet on the subject.

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Watch this space…