Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison on Homeland has frequently struggled with balancing the demands of motherhood and her job. But in Season 7, Carrie decided to give her sister sole custody of her daughter. This choice led Carrie to Russia where, in the Homeland Season 7 finale, she'll need to finish her covert operation to return Simone Martin to the U.S. The preview for the finale, "Paean to the People," shows Carrie will face complications and teases Mandy Patinkin's Saul Berenson possibly abandoning her in Russia. Executive producer of Homeland and director of the finale, Lesli Linka Glatter, promises that the episode will be "pretty outrageous." Yet, as always with Homeland, you should expect to see "the human story juxtaposed with what's happening in the world."
Glatter has been at the helm of every Homeland season finale since Season 3, and "Paean to the People" is no exception. With Elizabeth Marvel's President Elizabeth Keane removed from power and Saul and Carrie in Russia solely with her approval, it will be a doozy. But Carrie is only in this position because she gave Maggie permission to raise Frannie. "She loves her daughter, but there is a mission she has that she is compelled to do," Glatter says.
Carrie had spent the majority of the season at odds with Maggie over raising Frannie and the fact that Carrie was not managing her bipolar disorder. So Glatter says that letting Maggie take custody is a "huge step" for Carrie. "The pull is fascinating to watch with someone who does indeed love her child, but that is not her only priority," Glatter says. "And she's a better person that she made this choice because it will be better for her daughter."
Glatter recognizes that this subject is "taboo" — it's received a lot of viewer response in the past. She references a scene in the Season 4 premiere, which she also directed, in which it looked like Carrie might drown an infant Frannie. "The horror of a mother even thinking that way is just— people have no way to process that," Glatter says. And even though Carrie made the right choice this time, that doesn't mean everyone will be able to accept it. "That's a hard thing for people to look at in the world. Because you're supposed to be a good mother," Glatter says. "I think it's interesting to look at the fact that not all women are wonderful mothers — or want to be wonderful mothers — and that's OK. But again, that's a bit of a taboo in our culture. So addressing that and dealing with that is very provocative."
Glatter adds that men are not held to the same standard as women when it comes to parenthood. If men take an active role in raising children, they're praised. For women, it's just expected. "The judgment around that doesn't work the same for both genders at all," she says.
Though her resumé is long and includes directing episodes of acclaimed TV shows like Twin Peaks, The West Wing, and Mad Men (the latter of which nabbed her an Emmy nomination for achievement in directing), Glatter knows a thing or two about the dynamics of gender inequality from experience. "I don't think there's someone sitting in a back room twirling a mustache and going, 'Keep the chicks out of here,'" she says. "I think it's more unconscious bias. Or you think the problem has been solved. But then all you have to do is look at the hardcore statistics in the last five years and you're like, 'What? How is that possible?'" (The 2016-2017 "Boxed In" report found that women made up 28 percent of all major behind-the-scenes roles in TV and that the employment of women in these roles has had "no meaningful progress over the last decade.")
The stats are harsh, but Glatter is still looking on the bright side. "There have been some steps in the right direction," she says, citing the number of TV pilots directed by women this year. "I've been optimistic before, but I do feel like this feels different." She's always been interested in helping other women succeed, and makes an effort to mentor younger female filmmakers. But that wasn't always received well. "At first, when I started [mentoring other women], I was told, 'Don't do it. It's going to affect your chances to get hired.' And I was like, 'That is a world I do not want,'" Glatter says. "'There's only room for one of us at the table and it better be me' — I think that is a horrible way to live your life. ... And I have to say categorically, it has never been true. It has never affected me working."
When it comes to how women are viewed in terms of their directing skills, she's adamant that they be treated with respect and equality. "It's not easy for men to direct movies or TV, but it shouldn't be harder for women. It should be the same. Let it be hard for everyone equally," Glatter says. "Let's say you're doing something military and the director hasn't been involved in the military. Why would a male director know more than me? We kind of know the same. You're still gonna tell a human story in that world."
The focus on the human story is what Glatter says typically draws her to a project. She's fascinated by "what's happening in the microcosm and the macrocosm and how they interface with each other," and that shines through in how Homeland explores Carrie's personal life just as deeply as it explores international affairs.
The Russians interfering with U.S. politics in Season 7 mirrors what's happening in the current political climate — and that will come to a head in the finale. Each season, the Homeland creative team meets with the intelligence community in Washington, D.C., and this time around, they were pretty surprised by the ending. "They believed this is the most intense [Soviet interference] that they have ever seen," Glatter says. "To hear that is sobering. I mean it is basically [the Russians] are waging political warfare and it's done through propaganda and deception and disinformation. And when you have a divided country and you sow those seeds, it creates fissures. And that's what we're seeing. And I think the finale really deals with that in a very strong way," Glatter says.
As for where Homeland will go from here, Danes said on The Howard Stern Show that Season 8 will be the show's last. Glatter is unable to confirm that. "It's been talked about," she says. "Whether that's official or not, that's another thing. I think there's still discussion to be had." But last season or not, the Homeland team plans to have their meetings in Washington in August and the story for Season 8 will grow from there. Glatter also confirms that Danes' pregnancy will likely affect production, perhaps meaning a longer wait for next season.
In the meantime, Glatter is anxious to hear what people will think of the Season 7 finale. "There's something pretty outrageous that happens and I'm dying to know what the response is going to be to that," Glatter says. And fans will be able to see what becomes of Carrie and Saul's Russian mission — and the state of the U.S. presidency — when the finale airs on April 29.