How ‘Homeland’ got its groove back

How ‘Homeland’ got its groove back

In the beginning, “Homeland” was an easy show to love.

There was so much happening: So many explosions, evil plots and assassinations via pacemaker! So many intriguing characters, the trustworthiness of whom you could never quite decipher. I spent much of the first two seasons trying to determine whether Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was not just a double agent but perhaps a triple agent. Claire Danes was sharp and excellent as a CIA operative with bipolar disorder, Carrie Mathison, trying to redeem herself professionally after missing the warning signs before 9/11.

The show, which premiered in 2011, was on track to be a worthy replacement for “24.”

And at first, it was.

But after the first two seasons, right around the time Brody headed off into the woods and reemerged with an opioid addiction in a Caracas tenement, it started to go wrong.

Viewers were subjected to multiple episodes featuring Brody recovering in Venezuela, his daughter’s attempted suicide (awful, but we were there for the foiling of terror attacks, not teen angst) and Carrie doing little else but moping about and pissing off Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin, who managed to lend a touch of gravitas to episodes that were otherwise silly).

It stayed like this for a few seasons, the action segments spaced further apart as the interpersonal drama took center stage; Brody obsession was replaced by Quinn obsession. Excruciatingly bad parenting decisions were made; custody was revoked, restored and revoked again.

But longtime loyal “Homeland” viewers have been rewarded this season for sticking with the show, because it has come back from the blahs with full force.

The season began with a paranoid President Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) jailing anyone she suspected of having been involved in the assassination attempt against her at the end of Season 6. The Alex Jones-type character Brett O’Keefe, a right-wing radio host, broadcasts nightly “resistance reports” on the run, eventually prompting an exciting standoff between armed Keane resisters and the FBI.

There’s plenty of fake news and disinformation being spread; while the action is ripped from the headlines, it veers away from real events enough to keep it fresh and interesting.

Carrie is increasingly unhinged and out of control, and still a terrible mother, but in her work she’s following an important thread, uncovering Russian operatives who have been conducting information warfare. She’s also getting to the bottom of the death of General McClendon, who was sentenced to life in prison for his part in the Keane assassination attempt but was later killed in jail.

The show is always at its best when it’s a procedural and Carrie is devoted to solving tangible problems, stopping a terrorist attack or tracking down a master villain. It is at its worst when she is left to confront her personal demons. This season has been great because it refocused on what made the show stand out to begin with: fast-paced action, great villains and a KABOOM! every now and then.

Be the first to comment on "How ‘Homeland’ got its groove back"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*