Microsoft Series

Microsoft’s new Xbox Series S console confirmed in leaked controller packaging – The Verge

Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling its second, cheaper next-gen Xbox console this month, and it looks like it will definitely be called Xbox Series S. The Verge has obtained photos of Microsoft’s new next-gen Xbox controller in white, complete with packaging that mentions the Xbox Series S. Twitter user Zak S was able to purchase the controller today, and we’ve confirmed it’s genuine.

The new controller was sold on a resale site today, and the side of the packaging notes that the controller works with both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles. Microsoft has not officially unveiled an Xbox Series S yet, nor has the company even confirmed a white Xbox Series X controller.

Xbox Series S on the packaging.

A mysterious white Xbox Series X controller also appeared online last month, complete with the new D-pad, textured triggers, and new share button. This new leak matches the previous controller leak, and retail packaging suggests that these could be appearing in stores soon.

The Xbox Series S will likely be Microsoft’s second cheaper next-gen Xbox, that’s been codenamed Lockhart. A Microsoft document, leaked back in June, shed some further light on the company’s plans for two next-gen consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox Series X devkit, codenamed “Dante,” allows game developers to enable a special Lockhart mode that has a profile of the performance that Microsoft wants to hit with this second console.

The Lockhart console is expected to include 7.5GB of usable RAM, around 4 teraflops of GPU performance, and ship with the same CPU found on the Xbox Series X. Microsoft is rumored to be unveiling the Xbox Series S some time in August, and it will likely play a big part of the company’s Xbox All Access subscription plans that bundle an Xbox console and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Xbox Live and Xbox Game Pass) for a monthly fee.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft to comment on the next-gen Xbox controller leak, and we’ll update you accordingly.

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Series Switch

Switch vs PS5 and Xbox Series X: Why Nintendo’s console still wins – Android Authority

PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch 12

Opinion post by

Suzana Dalul

The upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are already generating a ton of hype and speculation. The two next-generation consoles promise to be faster and more powerful than any console we have seen before. Yet, given all we know so far, their main competitor, the Nintendo Switch is looking better than ever.

Few companies have taken as many risks or transformed its products as much as Nintendo. It hasn’t always paid off, but with the Nintendo Switch the Japanese company struck gold. The hybrid console has seen a meteoric rise since its release in 2017, and for good reason. The Switch is portable, versatile, and offers a great blend of games.

The Nintendo Switch already wiped the floor with the competition in 2019 by selling more units than Xbox One and PlayStation 4 combined. But with the upcoming juggernauts that are the PS5 and Xbox Series X, is the Nintendo Switch still worth it?

Yes, absolutely. It will never rival them in sheer performance, but the Switch is a powerhouse in many other regards.

Size and simplicity

playstation 5 hardware

There is something to be said about the nostalgic simplicity of the Nintendo Switch. Consoles are becoming overly glorified entertainment centers that barely fit on our TV shelves.

Both the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 are pushing size to the limits. The PS5 is around 15-inches tall, which is bigger than any previous PlayStation. The Xbox Series X might be shorter, but it compensates with width. Given their ever-increasing size and price, this leads to the question of what their advantage is over gaming PCs and laptops. It’s true that the size is necessary for their supposed graphical prowess, but the Switch is a tempting proposition to anyone more concerned with convenience and portability.

Read more: Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X: What we know about each, and how they compare

The Switch offers a fun, hassle-free experience. It allows you to enjoy all of your favorites on the go, and with friends. It’s hard to say “no” to a Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing: New Horizons session on a long train ride. It’s even better to play Super Smash Bros Ultimate against your friend on that five-hour flight. It might not be in glorious 4K, but that doesn’t make the experience any less enjoyable.

Ingenuity and creativity

PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch

The upcoming PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles are so focused on performance that it seems they’ve pushed creativity and light-hearted fun to the side. The PS5 controller has adaptive triggers and improved haptics, but otherwise Sony and Microsoft’s new gamepads are fundamentally the same old controllers we’ve seen for years.

Nintendo’s Joy-Cons, on the other hand, have many fun and innovative uses. You only have to look at the Nintendo Labo kits to understand how ingenious the addition of an infrared (IR) camera was. It can be used to detect motion in the Vehicle Kit, allowing you to maneuver a Toy-Con submarine, car, or plane. It can also read specially placed stickers, allowing you to play a cardboard Toy-Con piano and much more. There’s even a Nintendo Labo VR kit, and none of it would have been possible without Nintendo’s Joy-Con innovation.

Even without Labo, the Joy-Cons are already incredible bits of kit. You can strap them to the console for gaming on the go, of course, but that’s just the start. When detached, you can use them as Wiimote-style motion controllers. Flip them horizontally and you’ve got two individual gamepads for you and a friend. You can even slide them into a gamepad attachment that comes bundled with every Switch console to form a regular controller. Can you imagine Sony or Microsoft ever making anything quite so creative as Joy-Cons?

Amiibos are another quirky and creative Nintendo invention worth mentioning. Although they predece the Switch, they are yet another example of the Japanese company’s ingenuity. Amiibos are not just plastic figurines, they can be used to save game data, give you access to exclusive characters or items, and plenty of other cool in-game bonuses, all while also serving as fun collectibles. Neither Xbox nor PlayStation offer anything remotely similar.

Exclusive games

PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch 11

Consoles live and die on their exclusive games. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both expected to host a number of glossy triple-A games, but in recent years the number of true exclusives has dwindled. Many beloved console franchises such as Final Fantasy, Red Dead Redemption, and Dark Souls have made their way to PC. Microsoft now launches almost all of its first-party games on both Xbox and Windows platforms. Even Sony has started to open the doors to PC users, with Horizon Zero Dawn’s PC release being the most high-profile example.

Don’t miss: The best exclusive games for the Nintendo Switch

The same can’t be said about Nintendo. The Japanese company’s AAA games can only be found on its consoles, and its catalog should not be underestimated. Games like The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Animal Crossing: New Horizons are not only critical darlings but fan favorites too. Nintendo’s game library is further complemented by a variety of Mario and Pokémon games, plus competitive titles like Super Smash Bros Ultimate and Splatoon 2.

More importantly, Nintendo games have their own unique charm. While many modern triple-A titles have become self-serious and overly dramatic, most Nintendo games have kept their light-hearted visual style and tone without sacrificing any of the challenge.


What comes with Nintendo Switch Box

Although the Nintendo Switch’s price has risen due to COVID-related shortages, once it returns to its original retail price of $300 it will be the best console deal around. The PS5 and Xbox Series X are unlikely to beat it even with cheaper digital only-editions and inevitable discounts further down the line. The Nintendo Switch Lite is an even better offer for those that want a portable-only console. It still gives you access to the vast majority of the Switch catalog, but it costs only $200.

If there’s one major criticism that we can level at the Switch, it would be aimed at its lackluster online service. Having to use the Nintendo Switch Online app for voice chat is a painful experience, and unlike PlayStation and Xbox, the Nintendo Switch doesn’t offer free games to try out every month. You get access to the best games from the classic NES and SNES catalog for just $20 a year, which is something retro gamers are sure to appreciate, but it’s not quite the same.

Related: The best Nintendo Switch accessories

The Nintendo Switch will never be a graphics powerhouse or a performance champion, but it has carved out its own niche that is appealing to a wide variety of gamers. Compared to its over-sized and over-hyped rivals, the Nintendo Switch is looking better than ever.

Do you think the Nintendo Switch looks better than ever? Cast your vote in the poll below and let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to check out some of our other gaming content below.

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November Series

PS5 and Xbox Series X: Why a November Launch Makes Sense – Next-Gen Console Watch – IGN

PS5 and Xbox Series X: Why a November Launch Makes Sense – Next-Gen Console Watch – YouTube

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Fallout' Series

‘Fallout’ TV Series From ‘Westworld’ Creators in the Works at Amazon – Hollywood Reporter

10:00am PT

Lesley Goldberg

Based on the video game, the drama is currently in development but has a series commitment penalty attached.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy

Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan continue to line up new projects as part of their nine-figure overall deal with Amazon.

Amazon Studios has licensed the rights to the best-selling video game franchise Fallout, with married writers and showrunners Joy and Nolan attached to oversee the potential TV series. The project is currently in development but has a series commitment penalty attached. That means that if Amazon execs like the script, Fallout would bypass the traditional pilot stage and go directly to series (or if it is passed over, all involved would be paid out as if it had). A writer is not currently attached.

Making its debut in 1997, Fallout is set in the 22nd century, following a worldwide nuclear war, in an alternate future envisioned by Americans in the late 1940s. The series takes place in a harsh wasteland that contrasts with the previous generation’s utopian idea of a better world through nuclear energy.

Joy and Nolan will exec produce the series via their Kilter Films banner in association with game publishers Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks. Kilter’s Athena Wickham, Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard and Bethesda Softworks’ James Altman will also exec produce.

#PleaseStandBy. @Fallout @BethesdaStudios #KilterFilms

— Amazon Studios (@AmazonStudios) July 2, 2020

Fallout is one of the greatest game series of all time,” Joy and Nolan said in a joint statement. “Each chapter of this insanely imaginative story has cost us countless hours we could have spent with family and friends. So we’re incredibly excited to partner with Todd Howard and the rest of the brilliant lunatics at Bethesda to bring this massive, subversive, and darkly funny universe to life with Amazon Studios.

Fallout is the latest TV project that Joy and Nolan have in the works at Amazon. The duo are in preproduction on an adaptation of William Gibson’s novel The Peripheral (about a woman in near-future America). Joy and Nolan, who also have other high-profile projects in the works at Amazon, will continue to showrun HBO’s Westworld and produce The Peripheral as both projects stemmed from their previous overall with Warners. Sources note that when factoring in the couple’s deal to remain on Westworld for as many as three more seasons, the value of their Amazon deal clocks in at an estimated $200 million. (Westworld has been renewed for a fourth season.)

“Over the last decade, we looked at many ways to bring Fallout to the screen,” said Howard, executive producer at Bethesda Game Studios. “But it was clear from the moment I first spoke with Jonah and Lisa a few years ago, that they and the team at Kilter were the ones to do it right. We’re enormous fans of their work and couldn’t be more excited to work with them and Amazon Studios.”

Fallout is the latest high-profile genre drama in the works at Amazon. The company is also prepping its highly anticipated Lord of the Rings TV series as part of a global rights deal that may make it the most expensive TV show ever. A Wheel of Time drama is also set up at the retail giant/streamer, as is another season of The Expanse. Sources note Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is a big sci-fi fan, whose favorite book also happens to be … The Expanse.  

Fallout is an iconic global franchise, with legions of fans worldwide and a rich, deeply compelling storyline that powers it. And Jonah and Lisa are the perfect storytellers to bring this series to life,” said Albert Cheng, COO and co-head of television at Amazon Studios. “We’re thrilled to join with Bethesda to bring Fallout to television.”

Fallout arrives as the latest video game to get the TV series treatment. Showtime has also spent years developing its Halo TV series, HBO is prepping a take on The Last of Us, and Netflix has already found success with its take on The Witcher, among others.

Lesley Goldberg

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outsell Series

PS5 will far outsell Xbox Series X, predicts analyst –

There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding this year’s PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launches, but analysts are already starting to offer their thoughts on how the market plays out.

Ampere Analysis’ research director for games Piers Harding-Rolls today released a report sizing up where the console market stands as Sony and Microsoft prep their new systems for launch.

Despite periodic statements from people within the industry that the console market is losing relevance, Harding-Rolls is convinced that innovation on the hardware, software, and business model fronts will help ensure it remains a primary form of gaming for at least the next generation.

However, he expressed skepticism about its growth, noting that the combined lifetime sales of Sony and Microsoft’s consoles peaked with the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 (179 million units combined), and have declined in the two generations since (171 million for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, 157 million for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One through March of this year).

“While the market is still substantial and likely to be consistently large at least during the next console life cycle, what has been proven over the last decade is that even with significant resources ploughed into growing adoption on a global basis, including more serious entry into a series of additional territories, substantial hardware unit sales growth for Sony and Microsoft combined has not materialised,” Harding-Rolls said.

Ampere Analysis projection of Xbox Series X and PS5 console sales through 2src24

Ampere Analysis projection of Xbox Series X and PS5 console sales through 2024

Harding-Rolls expects Sony and Microsoft’s sales to show a slight decline with the new generation, selling 103 million units combined through the end of 2024, compared to the PS4 and Xbox One’s 109 million combined sales in a comparable stretch of time.

As for how that number breaks down, he expects the PS5 to have an installed base of 66 million by the end of 2024, compared to 37 million for the Xbox Series X.

However, Harding-Rolls doesn’t believe the difference in sales pace won’t be as pronounced early one, projecting the PS5 to sell 4.6 million units this year compared to 3.3 million for the Xbox Series X.

At launch, he expects both systems to hit price points in the $450 to $500 range.

Microsoft is better positioned this time around than it was with the Xbox One, Harding-Rolls argues, because it has embraced a console gamer focus for the system, has invested heavily in its first-party studio system, will have a Halo game ready for launch, and is expected to sell the Series X for the same price as the PS5.

However, he adds Sony’s current market leadership over Microsoft, lineup of PS5 exclusives, and PlayStation’s global brand allegiance “are especially hard to dismantle.”

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PlayStation Series

‘Xbox Series X’ Vs ‘PlayStation 5’: Microsoft Has Three Huge Advantages Over Sony – Forbes

Xbox Series X

Xbox Series X beats the PlayStation 5 in a few important ways.

Credit: Microsoft

I’m still not 100% convinced that Microsoft and Sony will be able to deliver their respective next-gen consoles this holiday, but we’ll keep discussing the upcoming systems as though they’re coming out in time for Christmas.

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging, the global economy is still contracting and there’s no telling how a combination of supply chain issues and high levels of unemployment could impact the release of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

In any case, we keep learning more and more about each one, especially the Xbox Series X which showed off thirteen third-party games yesterday morning. You can watch all the trailers for those right here.

Today, I’ll talk about a few ways that Microsoft is leading the next-gen pack. Right upfront I’ll freely admit that I am still in the PS5 camp overall, for one very good reason: Sony’s PS5 exclusives will be on PS5 only (at least for a good long time), whereas Microsoft has committed to launching on all Microsoft platforms, which includes PC. From a purely practical standpoint, having a gaming PC and a PS5 makes the most sense.

But Microsoft is making a compelling case for the Xbox Series X—even if those games they showed off yesterday just don’t look all that next-gen. Let’s take a look at the three biggest advantages Microsoft’s system has over the PlayStation 5.

1. Xbox Game Pass is a Killer App

There is nothing quite like Xbox Game Pass in the gaming industry. There are other services that are similar, like EA Access or PS Now, but Game Pass is the best. Subscribers get access to a huge game catalog that’s constantly updating, much like Netflix does each month.

This library includes access to all of Microsoft’s first-party exclusives on day one. Given the fact that Microsoft has seriously ramped up its first-party production, acquiring a bunch of development studios in the process, this is going to become much more valuable than ever with the Xbox Series X—to both consumers and Microsoft.

Game Pass Ultimate combines Game Pass with an Xbox Live With Gold subscription for $14.99/month which is a fantastic deal that gets you access to online games and apps, free monthly Games With Gold and Game Pass. It’s an outstanding value and it will continue to be for Xbox Series X.

(See what games are coming to Xbox Games With Gold in May here. See the new games coming to Game Pass this month here).

Xbox All Access

Xbox All Access gives Xbox gamers an affordable way to get a new system.

Credit: Microsoft

2. Microsoft is going big with All Access.

In a recent interview with IGN, Xbox chief Phil Spencer told the publication that Microsoft was going to “go big with [Xbox All Access] at the launch of the consoles.”

This is great news for any gamer on a budget and could give Microsoft a huge advantage at launch even if the Xbox Series X costs more than the PlayStation 5—which seems likely.

For one thing, as noted above the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious tole on the economy and peoples’ spending money.

“We would be remiss if we did not talk about the economic realities that could be here [in the Fall],” Spencer added in the same interview. “Not to be all doom and gloom, but you saw the jobless claim numbers that came out. There is a lot of uncertainty [in the market]. I think gaming is a luxury and we should all understand that.”

All Access could make a big difference for a lot of gamers. It let’s gamers pay for an Xbox Series X the same way you’d pay for a smart phone—monthly over a 24 month period.

I’m not sure how it would work on Xbox Series X, but right now gamers can buy a new Xbox One X or Xbox One S with no upfront cost, pay it off monthly (starting at $20/month for the discless Xbox One S, and up to $25/month for Xbox One X) and get a free 2-year Game Pass Ultimate subscription as part of the deal.

Remember, Game Pass Ultimate costs $15/month already, so you can get that and a console for just $5 to $10 more a month. It’s an insanely good deal.

Better yet, after 18 months you can trade it in and upgrade to a next-gen system. Even if the Xbox Series X is very expensive, this makes it way more affordable, especially since Game Pass Ultimate is included in the deal, meaning you could conceivably just not buy any new games for a couple years and still have over 100 titles at any given time to play, including the latest Microsoft exclusives.

Assassin's Creed Valhalla Smart Delivery

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla is a Smart Delivery game on Xbox Series X and Xbox One, meaning you’ll … [+] only have to purchase it once to play on both systems.

Credit: Ubisoft

3. Smart Delivery adds tremendous value to Xbox One owners.

Smart Delivery is certainly smart. Microsoft isn’t guaranteeing that every single Xbox One game that also releases on Xbox Series X will only be a single purchase, but it has committed to two things.

First, all of Microsoft’s exclusives for at least the foreseeable future will be released on both Xbox One and next-gen, and you’ll only have to pay once for both versions.

Second, any game that’s tagged as Smart Delivery from third-parties will also be available on both generations as a single purchase. For instance, if you buy Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla on Xbox One and then a year from now upgrade to an Xbox Series X, you’ll get the Xbox Series X version free of charge. It’s unclear whether a game like Destiny 2 will be Smart Delivery, however.

This isn’t the same thing as backward compatible. We should expect many of our current-gen games to be backward compatible on both Xbox Series X and PS5. This is different because you’re actually getting the next-gen version of the game for no extra charge.

Maybe Sony will implement something similar down the road, or announce it when they fully reveal the PlayStation 5. But as of right now, this is just one more huge advantage for the Xbox Series X, and another way Microsoft is making gaming just a tiny bit more affordable for Xbox gamers.

The one-two-three punch of Game Pass, All Access and Smart Delivery make the Xbox Series X (and presumably the Xbox Series X) a remarkably good value for consumers. Now the real question becomes: Will the console actually release this holiday and, if it does, will there be enough supply to meet demand?

These questions are so far up in the air it’s best we don’t even try. But right now Microsoft has done a terrific job making its next-gen system(s) appealing, affordable regardless of price and full of value for all gamers.

Will you be purchasing an Xbox Series X at launch or are you leaning toward the still-mysterious PS5? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.

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Homeland Series

Homeland Series Finale Review: Prisoners of War – Den of Geek US

This Homeland review contains major spoilers.

Homeland Season 8 Episode 12

It’s a telling choice that the seeming climax of Homeland, the definitive espionage story of the last decade, ends not with explosions or gunfire, but with the harmonies of a requiem mass. For that is the music Saul Berenson has playing when Carrie Mathison, the daughter he wishes he had, returns home. By this point in the Homeland series finale, what he must’ve suspected last week is inescapable: Yevgeny Gromav has asked a price so steep that Carrie chose not to share it… all the while she also chose not to visit her daughter while back in the States.

So the scene where all the fractures and faults in their relationship comes to bear while Mozart’s “Requiem” plays on. That piece is an ode to death, and one the composer began in 1791 but didn’t live to finish; that burden was left for someone else to carry on. And burdens such as these—the ones we leave undone and the ones we’re willing to pay to see through to completion—are very much at the forefront of Homeland’s final thoughts. After all, the last line of dialogue in the entire series is simply, “Stay tuned.”

Here was a series that began as one thing—an adaptation of the Israeli TV series, Prisoners of War, and a gripping drama about a bad romance between a CIA analyst and seeming American traitor—and then transformed into something else. On its best days, Homeland was a parable about world events as they transpired in real time, predicting twists in the American-Iranian relationship in the same month as nuclear deals were reached. But it was also about the price of seeing the job through, no matter who we leave behind along the way, be it Nicholas Brody, Peter Quinn, Fara Sherazi, or Max Piotrowski. Now at the end of things, we’re asked to put Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin’s beautifully flawed spies to rest as well. Worse still, we must watch them permanently tear apart the bedrock relationship of their own lives and Homeland’s entire dynamic. But as Saul might say, that’s the cost of doing business.

In such cold terms, we watch what is essentially a father and daughter relationship turn into a haggling negotiation in Saul’s living room. Carrie has returned to Saul’s townhouse with fast acting poison that will leave Saul paralyzed, yet she of course doesn’t want to use it any more than we do. She begs, pleads with Saul to give up his Russian asset in the Kremlin, someone she knows is a woman and who is a worthy tradeoff for preventing nuclear war along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Yet Saul rather shockingly says this is a “regional conflict,” and a horror that can be mitigated.

Suddenly a fascinating generational rift is crystallized between the former Cold War warrior and the officer who became the Drone Queen of Kabul’s CIA station. Saul outright states he considers a meddlesome Russia trying to “strangle” our democracy to be a bigger threat than a third Middle East war in 20 years. Yet somehow in this moment, Saul doesn’t sound that different from John Zabel to my ears as he tries to rationalize more MidEast misadventure, essentially writing off tens of thousands of American men and women in uniform as collateral damage.

But Saul is loyal like that to the people he cares about, and as we later hear him describe in video, he considers his Russian asset to be the second most important professional relationship of his career. The first is Carrie, and it’s why witnessing the chasm growing between them is so agonizing. Danes and Patinkin understand these characters on a granular level, and as such know how with a certain look, quivering lip, or hissing whisper of “go fuck yourself,” they can convey the maximum amount of blunt force trauma on their characters and their audience. When Saul’s face turns to cold fury and then says, “Now you go upstairs, you pack your things, and you get out of my house,” it comes with the heartbreak of a father throwing his child to the streets.

And that’s really how the scene plays on a certain level, with Carrie being sent to her room, but it’s also the end of that paternal give-and-take between the mentor and mentee. Even if Carrie left his house at this point and quietly surrendered herself to the FBI, their connection was still irrevocably destroyed.

Danes is, again, so phenomenal in this role that even though I’ve watched her for eight seasons, she leaves me constantly disturbed and unsure of how far Carrie is willing to go in the finale. It begins with her placing paralyzing poison on Saul’s neck and then summoning two nameless Russian thugs into his house. By the time they have a needle in Saul’s toe, I’ve even accepted she is going to let him die, that there will be no last second ace (or gun) pulled from Carrie’s sleeve. Yet she has already decided on her price of doing business, and it isn’t Saul’s life.

Over the rest of the hour, Danes leaves the viewer in a wilderness of emotions. Sympathy for her hearing Dorit, Saul’s sister, say that “you lost him too”? Anger that she is lying to Saul’s family in order to get what she wants? Disgust when a younger, darker haired Saul gushes about how much trust and implicit love he has for Carrie while offering the name of his Russian asset on a laptop screen? I felt them all, but visibly Danes experienced them too, even as she sent that Russian spy to her death.

Did Carrie do the right thing by feeding Anna to Yevgeny? That’s the peculiar thing about this kind of business: it takes a long time to know the full cost. She couldn’t know that getting a safe house full of CIA officers arrested in Islamabad would mean they’d soon be killed in a suicide attack, just as the CIA officers who trained Afghan warlords in Afghanistan didn’t know that 25 years later they’d be fighting them for control over that country. Personally, Saul ending up willing to trade thousands of American lives to continue to play spy games with the Russians (even if the players don’t like it being called that) seems like a glib rationalization—the kind that got us stuck in those “regional” conflicts for 20 years and probably another 20 after that.

But whatever the price is, Carrie is paying it in full.

I’ll admit there was another version of this review that would’ve been written if Carrie actually wound up in a sincerely romantic relationship with Yevgeny Gromav. It was teased all season, at first I thought as a form of his manipulation, and then a sign of his sleaziness that he would take advantage of a woman who doesn’t know what time of day it is. But that is not what actually happens after the two-year time jump.

While I still have trouble believing neocon war hawks would back down from their rhetoric—President Hayes and Zabel still had a truck full of dead Americans to saber-rattle about—or that Carrie would have reason to trust that Saul wouldn’t be executed by Boris and Natasha after they got word from Yevgeny that the Russian mole had been rooted out, things seem to work out relatively smoothly. David Wellington conveniently sends D.C. police to Saul’s home that save the day, and while Anna ends up choosing to end her own life rather than be tortured by her countrymen, she is at least not tortured. Such are the realistically grim small victories of Cold War waltzes.

As things deescalate with the least amount of blood possible on Carrie’s hands, she is forced to go to ground with Yevgeny upon learning that Anna escaped the GRU’s grasp, and thus Saul must be free. We discover that within a handful of years, she now lives in a Russian penthouse with Yevgeny, happy as one-half of a committed pair of lovers who can still go to jazz concerts. Those familiar wailing horns give a sampling, or maybe just the faded aroma, of the life and loves she left behind—an aural echo of that very first season. Meanwhile, inside Carrie’s appropriately cluttered office, there is but one picture: It’s of Franny, the daughter she never saw again after surrendering custody years ago and leaving on a plane to Russia.

At first glance, it’s all a large pill to swallow and that’s by design. Could such a smart and feminist show end with Carrie finding peace while on the arm of the man who tortured and took advantage of her? The man who, as she said in another scene tonight, caused her to burn a bridge with the last friend she had in the world?

The answer is of course not. This is her picking up Anna’s burden. Like an Austrian composer finishing what Mozart started, she is discreetly sending Saul intelligence from behind the Russian Federation’s still pretty hefty curtain.

It’s a powerful idea that the first book Carrie sends Saul is her own apparent autobiography, a book written like Edward Snowden’s memoir in exile and with extreme scorn for the American government. Titling her tell-all Why I Betrayed My Country, Carrie not only seemingly condemns her own legacy to ignominy but marries it to Homeland’s own. The title of the book, one imagines, is what Nick Brody might’ve penned if he could’ve survived pushing the button on that fateful day in a basement with a corrupt vice president.

Unlike Brody though, Carrie pulled her trigger, we heard it when Anna died. The fallout from the explosion has landed Carrie in Moscow, probably for the rest of her life. Also unlike Brody’s brief moments as an Iranian political trophy, Carrie is able to finish what Anna started and insulate herself inside Russian power. Admittedly, it’s tough to imagine Yevgeny ever dropping his guard around this woman, but then she’s a woman who can be very persuasive when she wants. She just persuaded the whole world she’s gladly forsaken her homeland, including probably more than a few of you.

“For my daughter in the hope that she will one day understand,” Carrie wrote on her dedication page. Once we understand in a way Franny likely never will, those words sting all the more. Not only has Carrie given her daughter up, but like Brody she’s surrendered any pretense of drawing free breath again outside of the shadows she currently inhabits. Forevermore she’s a prisoner of war who’s learned to smile as a mask. A patriot without a homeland.

It is not quite any of the endings I predicted for Carrie, but unlike other recent controversial series finales, it feels wholly appropriate. There is no happy ending where Carrie gets Franny back and settles down. She tried that already and it didn’t stick. This completion, of finishing what Franny’s father started in his own way, is a worthy, tragic conclusion for the woman who never really did come home from the War on Terror, and from the traumatic chains those conflicts forged around her soul. And worst of all, she now cannot even hint at their existence.

The final juxtaposition, of Saul smiling in his eyes, if not a grimaced face, and Carrie radiating a smile that reaches everywhere but the eyes says it all. They too are prisoners of war who we’re never getting back. Was their sacrifice worth it? Like Saul waiting for his next book, who knows yet? But at least for judging a series finale, the answer is a bitter yes.

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