If I had to write a one line review of the series, I would say Homeland is a good, solid show. It is fast paced without being shallow. Also it keeps you guessing and makes you actually care about the fate of everyone involved.
Carrie Mathison, as the bipolar CIA analyst, is flawlessly portrayed by Claire Danes. She is somewhat of a prodigy, disregarding rules, going crazy, with a hawk eyed single mindedness, ingenuity and fierce loyalty. Her mentor, in some ways protector in the murky web of politics within CIA, is Saul Berenson. An astute old man whose past is left just a tad bit sketchy to keep you guessing about his motives. Then, there is the Emmy award winner, Damian Lewis, who plays the character of Sergeant Brody. The byronic intense man who is central to all the action.
The underlying theme of terrorism is deftly dealt with and there is surprisingly little hysterics around it. There are the offhand torture scenes and disturbing images. Also some graphic sex scenes. So, it is not for the faint hearted, but there is a strong story line backing most of what is shown on screen. The action sequences are gripping and never futile.
Rating – TV-MA
**minor plot spoilers ahead**
It begins when Carrie is warned about a prisoner of war who has been turned by the terrorists. Brody, who was held a war captive for years, is found by the US marines and returns back to US soil. Carries suspects he might be the infiltrator, but no one believes her. Succumbing to paranoia, she starts her private unofficial investigation on Brody, who is clearly battling multiple demons of his own.
His children have grown up and don’t remember there father, who has been missing from their lives for many years. His wife is having an affair with his best friend, since she obviously gave up hope that her husband would return. Damian, brings out a torment inside Brody that is both dark and intriguing. Why does he pray to allah in his deserted garage? Is he really a wronged war hero or a disillusioned heartless terrorist? The country has already declared him a hero and everyone wants a piece of his fame. In comes a healthy dose of political drama as well.
Brody reminds me of Professor Severus Snape (that iconic character from Harry Potter) in some sense, because one cannot tell for sure if he is on the side of good or evil.
The interactions between the various characters is absorbing. Carrie gets too close to her suspect, by which I mean, Brody and she have a fierce undeniable attraction towards each other. Their affair does make you raise your eyebrows at the onset, but if you are like me, this pairing is going to grow on you, till you start rooting for them. Anyway I have a soft spot for star crossed lovers!
Both actors have phenomenal chemistry and any scene with both together leaves one with a feeling of gasping for breath. There is enough strife between the two to keep this pairing engrossing. There is never a moment of stagnation in this unexpected love story.
As with most shows, I personally feel, the first two seasons are more rounded and grounded than what follows. The level headed elusive marksman Peter Quinn is a good addition in the later seasons, but for me the best years were the first two.
The latest season has Nimrat Kaur (of Lunchbox fame) in a small role as well. In this season 4 Suraj Sharma ( from Life of Pi) has a compelling role which he does good justice too. These actors and others, also the locations all add to the life like feel of Homeland.
The series progresses with a smart script and characters have to make tough choices. The characters evolve with time and along with the thriller aspect the sensitivity to people is retained throughout. The strength of this show lies a lot in the blurring lines between heroes and broken people, without making either of them necessarily weak or pitiable. And the suspense is top notch.
If you enjoy a healthy does of political intrigue and lots of CIA excitement then this series is a must watch.
Pic Credit Showtime
Writersbrew Reading Room