Monday, 7 May 2012

TV: Homeland (S1) (8/10)

The debut season of Homeland is an enjoyable and suspenseful ride through the modern post 9/11 world of American domestic espionage.
It stars Claire Danes as the paranoid spy doing just that on newly-returned war hero Damien Lewis, in an above average 'is he or isn't he" thriller.

The introduction to Brody, for the first few episodes, is largely provided through footage from illegally installed surveillance cameras planted in his house by Carrie (Danes), this provides an interesting viewpoint which serves to heighten the suspicion on his strange behaviour in settling back into his much-changed family life.

As the action progresses, Carrie, not without her own personal struggles, finds it difficult to foster support for her theories within the CIA and risks everything by going it alone to investigate Brody up close and personal. Having kept the lead characters apart for the first half of the series, with Carrie always watching from afar, I was unsure about how the show would develop once the two grew close but I was not to be concerned as their relationship falls apart once Brody learns of Carrie's suspicions.

The show deals with some uncomfortable themes that are unlikely to go down well with too many loyal Americans, namely that the US is largely responsible for the terrorist threat it faces on its own soil, and I strongly doubt that many American viewers will be too sympathetic to Brody's cause, be it as it is based on Islamic ideals. The writers try to Americanise Brody's adopted ideals by having him use an American civil war last stand at Gettysburg to explain to his children that you should always fight for what you believe in.

The action is tense in places and strong performances are delivered by Danes, Lewis and Mandy Patinkin as Carrie's supervisor and mentor Saul. Once Brody's intentions are finally apparent, the final episode makes for tense viewing and features some superb acting from both Lewis and Morgan Saylor (Brody's daughter) at the moment of truth.

A second series is confirmed and the events of the final episode suggest that the action will switch from that of violent retribution to silent political influence, however with Carrie still on the trail.

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