What’s On: A Fake-News Conspiracy Makes for Real Suspense in the Season Finale of ‘Homeland’

Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME
Elizabeth Marvel as Elizabeth Keane in Homeland

Homeland (Sunday, 9/8c, Showtime): An episode ominously titled “America First” wraps a sixth season that has grown in tension and topicality as Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) take on a form of homegrown terror—the rising tide of toxic fake-news spread by non-human “bots,” overseen by the notorious Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham)—imperiling the nascent administration of president-elect Keane (Elizbeth Marvel). How it ends I’ve no idea, but my level of anxiety is right up there with ’70s classics of political paranoia like The Parallax View.

The Son (Saturday, 9/8c, AMC and SundanceTV): The TV Western makes a comeback in this dark dynastic saga, dominated by Pierce Brosnan’s steely portrayal of “first son of Texas” Eli McCullough, who was kidnapped as a teenager by Comanches—a backstory revealed in gripping 1849 flashbacks, featuring Jacob Lofland as young Eli. As a patriarch in 1915 Texas, adult Eli guides his cattle-ranching empire into oil prospecting, setting up a race war with neighboring Mexicans.

Saturday Night Live (Saturday, 11:30/10:30c, NBC) Having wowed fans with his 2017 stand-up comedy special released by Netflix earlier this week, Louis C.K. returns to host SNL for the fourth time in the first live episode in four weeks. (And how it has been missed; so much material these days.) The Chainsmokers are the musical guest.

Inside Weekend TV: Streaming highlights include the second half of Netflix’s 1970s musical drama The Get Down (Friday) and Amazon’s dramatized docu-series American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story (Friday), featuring footage from thousands of hours of Hef’s personal archives. … Showtime’s Beach Boys: Making Pet Sounds (Friday, 8/7c) relives the creation of one of the landmark album on its 50th anniversary. … A flurry of new Friday reality shows includes NBC’s lighthearted First Dates (8/7c), a romantic trifle from executive producer Ellen DeGeneres and narrated by Drew Barrymore; ABC’s The Toy Box (8/7c), a pint-sized Shark Tank in which an obnoxious panel of kid judges weigh in on inventors’ ideas for new toys; and the worst of the lot, Fox’s You the Jury (9/8c), in which aggressively unpleasant Fox News personality Jeanine Pirro presides over mock trials in front of a studio audience, with viewers deciding a live verdict. Here’s mine: Thumbs down. … Following the conclusion of the Masters golf tournament Sunday, Golf Channel premieres Jack, a three-night biographical tribute (through Tuesday) of the legendary Jack Nicklaus. … John Waters is genius casting as Hollywood hack-meister William Castle, milking the spectacle of Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) as an ax-wielding maniac in Strait Jacket, part of a “hags-ploitation” craze explored in FX’s fabulous Feud: Bette and Joan (Sunday, 10/9c). Now if only Robert Aldrich (Alfred Molina) can convince Joan to reunite with Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) in the Baby Jane follow-up, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte.