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Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ and ‘Masters of Sex’ prepare for complicated finales

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Showtime broke through in a big way in 2013 with the success of “Ray Donovan” and “Masters of Sex.” Launched alongside two of the cable network’s biggest hits (“Dexter” and “Homeland”) the pair quickly found viewers and emerged as bona fide hits. Tonight “Homeland” and “Masters of Sex” both wrapping their respective seasons, but each will be doing it to vastly different receptions.

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“Homeland” this season has had moments of absolute genius and moments of sheer insanity. The 2012 Emmy winner for Best Drama had a breakthrough first season and then a very uneven ride ever since, but audiences (and for the most part critics) have stood by the series.

Headlined by Claire Danes, Damien Lewis and Mandy Patinkin, the show seems to get lost on its path every now and again. Regardless of that though, the brilliant performances turned in by the three leads are well worth audiences’ time. However co-creator Alex Gansa recently said he realized this season has been more challenging than he anticipated but as he told CBS News yesterday he still believes the payoff is there for the audiences.

“The whole season, obviously, has been building to these [final] two episodes. I view the season in three movements. And the first and the last movement are very intimately connected.”

The show itself also made news yesterday when it revealed two of its series regulars would not be returning full time in season 4. As first reported by TVLine, Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor will be exiting the show after tonight’s episode, however both have supposedly been given the option to return as guest stars down the line. Neither move is that surprising given the way this season’s storylines have played out. It’s also possible this could signal the show is looking to start up some sort of fresh reboot in 2014.

While many are looking at “Homeland’s” finale under a microscope, others are just plain looking forward to the finale of lead-out “Masters of Sex.” Starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Kaplan, the show has hit all the right notes with viewers and critics and is an early favorite for next year’s Emmys. However some are wondering if the series subject will eventually scare off voters.

Based on the actual work of Dr. William Masters and his assistant Virginia Jonson, the show looks into the science of sex. Sheen is no stranger to success when it comes to playing real people as he’s won rave reviews for portraying Prime Minister Tony Blair (multiple times) and the late newsman David Frost. Kaplan is also a refreshing force who was courted by every major broadcast and cable network for a series role before signing with “Sex.”

Yet audiences have also been mesmerized by supporting stars Beau Bridges and Allison Janney who have stolen a number of scenes. Bridges plays the closeted provost of the university that employs Masters and Janney portrays his emotionally starved wife. It’s the second major role of the year for both actors who each are a part of successful CBS rookie comedies (“The Millers” & “Mom”).

Still Sheen and Kaplan are the leads and as Thomas Maier, the man on whose book the series is based, told Newsday on Friday he expects audiences to be surprised by how the finale ends.

“It will raise a whole new set of questions about the future of their sex study, about Bill's professional reputation and about the emotional relationship between Bill and Ginny.”

“Homeland” & “Masters of Sex” air tonight on Showtime.

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