Monday, December 21, 2015


(Spoilers Ahead. This whole show is a series of spoilers, so be forewarned)
Season 5
We now find Carey living happily in Berlin, no longer with the agency and working for a private firm. Still her life remains in danger do a classified documents leak and the actions of a compromised agent, who also casts suspicion on Saul and places Quinn in direct contact with a terrorist cell who are planning an imminent strike. Season 5 represents a major setback for the series, one which has shown glimmers of rebounding but has never been able to consistently find its footing as storylines wear thin and fail to gain traction. Cast addition Miranda Otto is a highlight of the season , despite the ludicrosity of her far-fetched character.
** 1/2 out of ****

Seasons 3 and 4
Season three picks up with Carrie being the subject of Senate Investigation following the catastrophic attack on CIA headquarters, Brody seeking asylum in South America, and his family grappling with the horrific act. The fourth season sees Carrie named station chief in Kabul where she is faced with a Benghazi-like invasion and a hostage situation involving her mentor Saul. Following the outlandish second outing, Homeland returned with an intense, exciting, though still nonsensical third season, with superfluous domestic scenes at the Brody household taking away from the focus of the show. The fourth series is somewhat lacking and, due to the "terror threat at home" nature of the program, loses something by being set almost entirely overseas. Rupert Friend shines in support.
Season 3: *** 1/2 out of ****
Season 4: *** out of ****

Season 2
Following the botched attempt on the Vice President's life, Brody is now learning the ropes as a freshman U.S. Congressman while Carrie, teaching English as a second language and recovering from her stint in the booby hatch, is contracted by the CIA to lend her expertise to an expedition in Beirut. As Abu Nazir moves his pawns into place for his next terrorist attack, Carrie and Brody's stars align once more, placing their careers and lives into imminent danger. It becomes clear that the high-wire act done so well during the first season cannot be maintained, and while all the pieces don't quite come crashing down, preposterous plotting  has seized the day. Clare Danes character, where she was so effective before, has become nearly intolerable, going into hysterics several times an episode. Damian Lewis is doing what he can, and I think he should be commended for going through some of the things they put his character through with a straight face. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the show is how insipid Mandy Patinkin's Saul has become and the addition of Rupert Friend adds very little, if anything to the series. Most of these complaints can be chalked up to the writing. How could anyone seriously expect the show to maintain its momementum? And while the leads still maintain rooting interest, the second season plays its cards way too fast and serves them up in ways we can't possibly accept.
** 1/2
sidenote: As the "Homeland" season finale concludes the shows I watch for the year, I feel obliged to comment on the disappointment of nearly every series I've followed this year, especially one's in their sophomore season ("Homeland", "Games of Thrones", "Downton Abbey", "Sherlock"). In what has been termed as a "Golden Age of Television", these and other fan favorites such as "Boardwalk Empire" and "Breaking Bad" make it seem like a low karat era.

Season 1
A Marine (Damian Lewis) is rescued after eight years of being held captive in an Iraqi compound, and returns home to much fanfare and great difficulty adjusting to domestic life. Meanwhile an ambitious, volatile, and surreptitiously bipolar CIA agent (Clare Danes), having been informed several months prior by an al-Qaeda bomb maker that an American POW has been turned, suspects the heralded Marine of being the conduit of the next terrorist plot against the United States. "Homeland" is an ingeniously plotted tightrope act, which seems doomed to fail but never looses its footing once. Developed from the Israeli series "Prisoners of War" by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, who take their unlikely story to an intense, sheerly believable level because they always prioritize the human elements. Ten years after his tremendous work on "Band of Brothers", Damian Lewis returns with another powerful performance in a uniquely American role. As the unorthodox agent running a one person operation, Clare Danes is excellent and has some heartbreaking, almost unbearable scenes later in the season. Mandy Patinkin also contributes tremendous, nuanced work as a veteran operative and mentor/counterbalance to Danes. The plot description for "Homeland" makes one think of something destined for a short-lived run on network television, but due to the intelligent and sensitive writing (I can't stress this enough) and its endearing, perfectly realized cast, the first season is something of a wonder.