Monday, 31 December 2012

TV: Homeland (S2) (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
I really enjoyed the first season of Homeland although I did have some doubts as to how long the show could keep up the cat and mouse action between Carrie and Brody.

What's it all about?
Brody, a marine recently returned from eight years of captivity by al-Qaeda, is now a US Congressman approached by Vice President Walden to be his running mate for the forthcoming presidential election. Following her humiliation at the end of the last season, Carrie's health is returning and no longer working for the CIA, her life is beginning to return to normal until evidence appears proving her theories regarding Brody's true intentions.

Should you watch it?
Homeland is one of the stronger shows on TV at the moment. The second season takes a few episodes to finds its groove again and suffers throughout from instances of Carrie's hotheadedness and inability to follow orders. I really struggle to believe that such a liability would be employed by the CIA, but hey it's just TV.

The events of the first episode The Smile are just about as contrived as possible to bring Carrie, who finished the previous season having electroshock therapy, back into the fold at the Langley. Once Carrie is back, the momentum of the show shifts hugely, one of two shifts in this season, as evidence comes to light that Brody is a terrorist and more importantly that Carrie's theories were correct. Considering the events of the first season and also Carrie's flirtation with suicide in State of Independence, this is a pretty major change in direction for the show as Carrie is no longer alone and frustrated and receives the support (and apologies) of Saul and Estes. The second change in momentum is perhaps even greater and brings Brody into the CIA operation to target Abu Nazir. These shifts keep the show fresh and intriguing and both are delivered in true dramatic Homeland style. The episode Q&A features some great scenes between Carrie and Brody, delivered with great intensity by Claire Danes and Damien Lewis. Even following Brody's switch, the writers manage to retain a sense of distrust and ambiguity over Brody's actions to drive the show forward. He clearly gets away with one act of terrorism during the final episodes but is he responsible for another?
"Tell us a bit about yourself"

Carrie's health demons play less of a role this time around, instead her relationship with Brody picks up a few gears and there are certainly shades of Romeo and Juliet, as two star crossed lovers who can never truly be together. Mandy Patinkin's understated Saul is one of my most favourite characters on TV.

Steering into 24 territory (unsurprising considering the show's writers), the season ends with a big bang in the fantastic finale The Choice with major consequences for all the major characters.

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