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When a series lasts as long as Homeland (already longer than The Sopranos midway through its final season), you have to expect some casualties along the way. You just can’t have an espionage thriller set in the world’s most volatile regions without losing some beloved characters.

And though you could argue the death of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) ranks high on the list, Homeland’s fans would probably say the season 6 fall of Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) hurt more. After cheating death on a few occasions, Quinn finally met his end saving President Keane (Elizabeth Marvel).

Two seasons later, as Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and U.S. intelligence grapple with the death of Keane successor President Warner (Beau Bridges), another one of Carrie’s staunch allies finds his life in danger.

That character, Max (Maury Sterling), dates all the way back to the first episode of Homeland. Max’s existence hangs in the balance as season 8 heads into its eighth episode.

Max’s life hangs in the balance with Haqqani’s estranged son

Maury Sterling as Max in HOMELAND Season 8 Episode 7, “F*cker Shot Me” | Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

When you trace how Max ended up in the hands of rogue Taliban fighters, it comes back to the intelligence mission. Max first went to the remote Afghanistan outpost to collect “intel” in the way of communications in the area.

After the unthinkable (i.e., the downing of two presidents) happened, Carrie asked Max to risk his life to retrieve the flight recorder from the crash site. With soldiers dying in his midst, Max did just that. However, before he could reach safety, a Taliban fighter shot him and took him prisoner.

From there, we saw a familiar pattern emerge. The fighters took Max to a secure location and started selling whatever he had of value (including the black box) on him. They seemed to be awaiting word from their superiors about a trade or sale of Max if the Americans came looking.

With Carrie on a rogue mission trying to track down Max, the chances of him returning safely improved. But the sudden intervention of Jalal, the estranged son of Taliban leader Haqqani (Numan Acar) put Max’s life on the line. At the close of episode 7, Carrie was ready to fight to the death in order to rescue him.

Handicapping Max’s chances for survival

Maury Sterling as Max and Elham Ehsas as Jalal in HOMELAND, “F*cker Shot Me” | Sifeddine Elamine/SHOWTIME.

We consider it fair game to handicap a fictional character’s chances of survival, so we’ll attempt to do that now. The exercise will begin in the present, considering Max’s current value to the plot in season 8.

In a word, Max’s role has been huge these past seasons. Whenever Carrie needed a hand doing her freelance covert operations, Max was on board every time. And in season 8, he’s become a crucial player in U.S. intelligence operations in Afghanistan. In brief, Max is a major character on Homeland.

You could argue he’s as important to Carrie as Peter Quinn was before his death, even. Looking at all the people Carrie has worked with over the years, Max remains her most loyal associate. Indeed, they’ve come a long way from the day when Carrie referred to him as Virgil’s “weird little brother” in the series debut.

But Max’s prominence cuts several ways. On the one hand, his days look numbered in the hands of a rogue Taliban fighter trying to make a power grab. On the other, a character as important as Max deserves to go out with a glorious death. (Jalal would be unworthy in this regard.)

If we had to bet, we’d go with Max surviving at least through episode 8. But, given the circumstances, we suggest fans make their peace with his character now. Overall, it doesn’t look good, and this is the final season of a spy show unfolding in a warzone. You just never know.

Also see: ‘Homeland’ Season 8 Episode 7 Recap: Carrie Goes on the Hunt While a Weak President Stumbles