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Every Homeland Season Ranked Worst To Best

Showtime's political thriller series "Homeland" took viewers on an eight-season ride navigating the ins and outs of the United States' intelligence apparatus, following the life and work of CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). One of the things that set the show apart from similar spy fare was its protagonist's bipolar disorder, which seemed to aid in her work and ability to focus on intelligence data while alternately aiding in Carrie's destruction of her own personal life. It's unclear if it's Carrie's mental health or simply poor judgment that led to her becoming romantically involved with a radicalized American POW, but her relationship with Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) had implications far beyond their initial dalliance in "Homeland" Season 1.

It's clear throughout the entire "Homeland" timeline that Carrie puts doing her job and protecting the U.S. and its security and interests above everything else, be it the law, ethics, her professional relationships, her career, her personal life, her family, or even her own safety. Her response to the various threats facing the nation always had her full attention, or as much as could be spared, in addition to her trademark dogged determination. "Homeland" was able to take viewers on such an exciting and visceral emotional ride because, while Carrie unraveled plots and secrets found in her work, her unraveling personal life and mental health were juxtaposed alongside.

Though each season of the series had its highs and lows, by the time "Homeland" ended, it was clear not all were created equally. Here is every season of "Homeland," ranked worst to best.

8. Season 6

The sixth season of "Homeland" is ranked last, though we'll call it the "least good" installment rather than the worst. Carrie has left the CIA — it's not the first time — and is dealing with the fallout from her decision to wake Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) from his coma in the season prior. She works for a New York City non-profit defending Muslims against discrimination, including a young man who's being set up as the culprit behind a black flag operation disguised as an act of domestic terror. Carrie eventually brings Quinn — who suffered brain damage from the sarin gas he was exposed to in Season 5 — to live with her in an attempt to keep him from doing drugs and cavorting with prostitutes.

Big picture-wise, Carrie is secretly advising Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), the first woman elected president, prior to the latter taking office. Keane is also working with Carrie's mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and the shadowy Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), the latter of whom is behind a plot to discredit and destroy Keane, owing to his concern that she's going to nerf the CIA's paramilitary capabilities. Naturally, everything is connected and he's behind not only the bomb but also political provocateur Brett O'Keefe (Jake Weber), who's challenging Keane at every turn.

Ultimately, "Homeland" Season 6 feels like it's simply a bridge continuing the series' narrative, with O'Keefe serving as a weak antagonist revealed to be a puppet. Season 6 is Certified Fresh and has a critics score of 78% on Rotten Tomatoes, with detractors citing a lack of chemistry, drama, and coherence to the season's events.

7. Season 3

Brody is on the run in "Homeland" Season 3, having been framed for the bombing at Vice President William Walden's memorial, a topic about which Saul and Carrie both testify before Congress in an attempt to appear at odds in an attempt to smoke out parties actually responsible for the bombing. That turns out to be Iranian official Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub), who has Carrie kidnapped. Carrie is able to turn Javadi into a U.S. asset, threatening to reveal he's been embezzling from the Iranian government. Carrie's ultimate goal is to clear Brody's name so she's less than thrilled with Saul's plan to send him to Iran to seek asylum, thereby enabling him to kill a military leader and allow Javadi to move up the ranks. 

Brody eventually takes his target out, though not before denouncing the United States on television, which isn't a smart move. With the two hunkered down at a safehouse, Carrie tells Brody she's pregnant with his child before they're taken into Iranian custody after CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) gave away their location, in response to Brody's television antics. As a result, Carrie is forced to witness Brody being hanged for treason in public.

Season 3 evokes the greatest pathos for Carrie as a character, with her personal stakes higher than ever before. She's all in on Brody and to lose him after finding out she's pregnant is the ultimate emotional rollercoaster, in addition to the conflict between the main cast being at an all-time high. The third season of "Homeland" sports an 80% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics complaining of plot housekeeping and outright apathy.

6. Season 7

"Homeland" Season 7 sees Brett O'Keefe on the run and Dar Adal finally in prison for his misdeeds — along with hundreds of intelligence officers who had nothing to do with the attempted assassination of Elizabeth Keane. Saul takes the job of National Security Advisor on the condition that they be released, minus Dar, of course. Carrie finds herself at odds with the president, who, unbeknownst to her, has a security leak; Keane's chief of staff, David Wellington (Linus Roache), is unwittingly involved with a Russian agent named Simone Martin (Sandrine Holt), whose real love is boyfriend Yevgeny Gromov (Costa Ronin).

Yevgeny is responsible for the social media uproar machine against Keane in Season 6, as well as the fake news story that results in a standoff between the FBI and O'Keefe's followers at an Ohio family farm where he's being sheltered. In light of her vendetta-fueled pursuit of O'Keefe and her firing several Cabinet members, Keane's vice president, Ralph Warner (Beau Bridges) has her declared unfit for office, though the Russian plot to undermine her administration is eventually brought to light.

The best thing Season 7 does is introduce Yevgeny as a major player, given his role in the remainder of the series. Carrie's recognition of her shortcomings as a mother and her further unraveling set high personal stakes, all of which are nearly rendered moot when she's released after spending months in Russian custody. It has a critics score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes, with a lack of suspense among its criticisms.

5. Season 4

"Homeland" Season 4 is right around the middle of the pack. Carrie is recalled from her post as CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan, after a botched drone strike kills dozens of civilians and footage of the aftermath is circulated around the globe. Based on subpar intel from the station chief in Pakistan, the attack was intended to eliminate Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar), who later takes Saul captive. Having little success in motherhood, Carrie resorts to blackmailing Director Lockhart into giving her the station chief role in Pakistan following the death of Sandy Bachman (Corey Stoll), whose intel led to the disastrous attempt to take out Haqqani. Carrie attempts to recruit Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma), the medical student who leaked the footage of the drone strike, ignorant to the fact that he's Haqqani's nephew.

It's a good thing Carrie was able to convince Quinn to stick around, given that he's the only one who was able to thwart the second strike she was about to launch against Haqqani, which would have killed Saul as well. It's understandable that she's upset that Haqqani killed his nephew, but the drone she used to track Aayan is what got him killed and she had clearly compromised her judgment by sleeping with him in order to turn him as an asset.

Carrie's actions toward the end of the season show her emotions getting the better of her, which is totally out of character. "Homeland" Season 4 was considered a return to form, following a third installment some found lacking; it enjoys an 81% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. Season 5

Jumping two years into the future, "Homeland" Season 5 sees Carrie once again in the private sector, having given up on CIA life after the deal Dar Adal cut with Haqqani. Saul, who's probably pretty happy with it, considering it's why he's alive, is in charge of operations across Europe and is unaware he's sleeping with the enemy in the form of Berlin station chief Allison Carr (Miranda Otto), who's a RUssian mole. Saul and Quinn head to Berlin, where Carrie works, after classified documents are leaked and a seeming attempt on her boss' life is uncovered as a hit on Carrie.

Allison, it turns out, works for Russian spy Ivan Krupin (Mark Ivanir) and she's setting Saul up. Quinn sets up a trip to the Middle East to meet with a CIA target but the group of jihadists with which he's traveling use him as a lab rat to test the lethality of their chemical weapons. Carrie prevents their attack, but not before needlessly convincing Quinn's doctors to wake him from a coma, causing him to suffer a cerebral hemorrhage . Allison's handler betrays her to Saul who takes her and her team out.

"Homeland" was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a drama series for Season 5. The season sports an 88% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and built upon the previous season's resurgence, with critics praising a slower burn. The season is especially effective for the indefatigable Saul being compromised and Carrie dealing with real-life consequences for her actions.

3. Season 8

The eighth and final season of "Homeland" makes our top three by virtue of being one of the few shows in modern television to have a truly satisfying finale — "Dexter" finale and "LOST" finale, we're talking about you. Still recovering after her time in Russian custody, Carrie is tasked with helping Saul negotiate a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan, where she's surprised to run into Yevgeny. Hassam Haqqani is taken into custody when his meeting with Saul is ambushed and Carrie suggests President Warner travel to Afghanistan to announce the end of the war, which seems like a great and symbolic gesture until Warner and Afghan president Daoud (Christopher Maleki) die as a result of a helicopter malfunction. Since the escort chopper is shot down by the Taliban, everyone but Carrie assumes it was an act of war. 

In order to release the flight data recorder which reveals Warner's helo malfunctioned, Yevgeny demands the identity of Saul's longtime asset within the Kremlin. Knowing it's the only way to avert an impending war, Carrie identifies Russian interpreter Anna Pomerantseva as the mole, effectively destroying her relationship with Saul. Russia releases the flight recorder data and the risk of war subsides. Flash forward two years to find Carrie living in Russia, having denounced the U.S. in a tell-all book. In truth, she 's offering to serve as Saul's asset within the Kremlin, contacting him the way his Anna did.

This satisfying wrap-up sets Season 8 of "Homeland" apart as one of its best, despite ranking lower than the fifth season on Rotten Tomatoes with an 85% critics score. Everything is balanced and wrapped up neatly with a conclusion fertile for fans to sow their own headcanon and let the story continue.

2. Season 2

At the onset of "Homeland Season 2, Nicholas Brody is the American political flavor of the week and, as a newly minted member of Congress, is being whispered about as a potential running mate for Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan), despite nearly assassinating him. Given this level of access, he's able to warn his former captor-turned-mentor, al-Qaida commander Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), about an impending attack. Saul finds Brody's confession, thereby validating all of Carrie's previous work. Back in the agency, Carrie manages to turn Brody into a triple agent, working against Nazir while still appearing to operate as a sleeper agent. Having been thwarted, Nazir kidnaps Carrie and threatens to kill her if Brody doesn't follow through with his original plan to kill Walden. Brody and Nazir sabotage Walden's pacemaker and he dies, triggering Carrie's release, after which she greenlights a successful mission to kill Nazir. For once, things seem to be going well for Carrie, but Nazir's followers plant a bomb in Brody's car and release his suicide video, implicating him in a seeming act of domestic terror that kills hundreds of people.

Season 2 is executed beautifully, with viewers taken along on a suspenseful ride not unlike Carrie's bipolar disorder. She starts at her lowest, teaching English and living with her sister, only to experience a high, being brought back to the CIA with her previous work vindicated. She's kidnapped, then released, and kills the bad guy, all before her lover is framed and forced to go into hiding. This season more than earns its 93% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and is notable for introducing Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend).

1. Season 1

When you absolutely nail a near-perfect season of television like "Homeland" Season 1, the only way to go is down. As prisoner of war Sergeant Nicholas Brody returns stateside, Carrie believes he's the one being mentioned in intel rumors about an impending attack. Despite her suspicions, she somehow becomes romantically and sexually involved with her subject, for which she's put at ease when a fellow POW, Thomas Walker (Chris Chalk), becomes the new suspect. As viewers learn, Brody is the guy they're looking for, having been turned by his captor, Abu Nazir, and swearing revenge against Vice President William Walden over a drone attack that killed Nazir's son, Issa (Rohan Chand), and dozens of other children. 

Walker creates chaos by detonating a bomb and killing a diplomat from Saudi Arabia during a meeting Carrie had arranged, for which she's driven out of the CIA. Despite her worsening mental state and the manic episode her dismissal has triggered, she's able to deduce Brody's plan to assassinate Walker as a suicide bomber and convince his daughter to help talk him out of the attack.

Season 1 offers an incredible glimpse into Carrie's mind, which is powerful despite the frailty of her mental state, and the payoff — with everything coalescing in her mind before being blinked away by the electroconvulsive therapy — is incredible. It boasts a perfect 100% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and earned Claire Danes the first of two Primetime Emmy awards for portraying Carrie Mathison, with Damian Lewis nabbing one for his role as Brody and the series winning the Emmy for outstanding drama series; Danes also took home two Golden Globes, with Lewis winning one and the series winning back-to-back.