There was a buzz surrounding Showtime’s newest drama, Homeland, before it even premiered. From the little that I heard about it, I knew it was a drama/thriller about the CIA and the people involved to keep the country safe from terrorism. I already liked the sound of it and was eager to invest plenty of hours seeing how it unfolded. What I didn’t expect was how excellent this show was going to be.
Starring Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA operations officer, she is the in-your-face type of heroine, never taking guff from anyone and always putting her duty on the job over everything else. She has a secret though, she’s bi-polar. The problem is she can’t inform her job about her disorder because if they find out, she’ll lose her security clearance. This is just one of the many conflicts that are presented through the first season of Homeland.
The main story-line involves Carrie acting on some intelligence that an American prisoner of war has been turned by Al-Qaeda and now is the key to a terrorist plot. Her focus from the beginning is on Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine who has spent the last eight years missing in action and presumed dead. She is convinced by a hunch that he is the turned American who is involved in a planned attack against America.
There are several other story-lines that give Homeland the layers and complexity every good drama has. Carrie finds herself in plenty of altercations with her supervisor, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), throughout their father-daughter kind of a relationship. Meanwhile, Brody struggles to adapt to family life with his wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin) and his two children. To add salt into that wound, Brody’s best friend Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) has been filling the void of Brody’s absence by engaging in a serious relationship with Jessica and the children.
What Homeland continued to do throughout the entire first season was pace themselves tremendously while juggling the drama, action, and conflict between the characters and plot. There were always new pieces to the puzzle and plenty of twists along the way, which made the show gripping and entertaining simultaneously.
My favorite aspect about the show was the inner struggle that all of the main characters inhabited. Did Carrie start to believe she was as crazy as other people thought? Can Jessica forget about everything that Mike meant to her while Brody was missing? Will Brody be a man of his word? And to who, either his family or Abu Nazir? Everyone has demons they try to keep caged up for as long as possible, but what do you do when they’re revealed?
While watching the show and following these characters being tormented by the decisions they had to make, I felt like I was taking the same path with trying to figure out who to trust, who to like, and what was right and wrong. The brilliance to this show is that Homeland blurs the line between right and wrong, good and bad. Homeland also asks the question “Why?” throughout, giving meaning to every word said and action done. If Brody did indeed turn, why did he do so? There is always a bigger picture involved.
Homeland borrows from plenty of previous materials such as Brothers, Manchurian Candidate, and every modern-day spy film, yet the drama still feels fresh. I applaud the writers of the show for not only providing character-depth, but enough options for the second season to move forward. At the conclusion of the 84-minute season finale, big things happen that will take weeks to mull over, but the mystery and questions that still linger are what the viewers will really come back for.