Jan 17, 2013

[TV] Homeland: Season 2

My partner and I totally got into the first season of Homeland when it first aired, and so there was no question in our minds about getting involved in the second season. Sure, Claire Danes does end up playing a rather crazy woman and we all wonder how she managed to get involved in intelligence work in the first place. But it's a good show with some interesting plot twists, and thus we continue on.

The show is definitely one of the more intense drama shows that we follow, and that's a credit to both the quality of the writing and the talent of the actors. And the show generally avoids overly ridiculous turns in the narrative, except maybe for some of Carrie's decisions. Then again, she is written to be sort of crazy, so there.

And you'd think that a show like this would be more tiring or draining to watch, especially at the end of a long work day. But I never really feel that way. That says a lot, right?

Synopsis: Homeland is the Showtime adaptation of the Israeli series Hatufim. The original show was created by Gideon Raff and was adapted for US television by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Already this second season has won the 2013 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series - Drama along with both Danes and Lewis won Best Actress and Best Actor (respectively) for Television Series - Drama.

The first season ended with CIA Officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) submitting herself for electroshock therapy to help treat her bi-polar disorder. Convinced that she had been entirely wrong about her theory that US Marine Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) had been turned to become a terrorist during his time as a prisoner of al-Qaeda. But she had inadvertently managed to avert Brody's terrorist attack designed to kill Vice President Walden (Jamey Sheridan).

This second season begins about 6 months since the events of the season 1 finale. In the Middle East, the CIA are approached by a former CIA informant who is only willing to speak to Carrie. But she has been away from the Agency since her break-down. The CIA has no choice but to try and convince Carrie to come back to find out what this asset knows despite the bad blood between her and the Agency. Meanwhile Nicholas Brody is now a Congressman and already being considered as a potential running mate should Vice President Walden decide to run for President. But eventually Brody is approached by an agent of Abu Nazir(Navid Negahban), who continues to have plans for Brody.

The first season left us with our heroine, Carrie, pretty much feeling defeated. She had no idea that she had averted a terrorist attack, and nor did anyone else for that matter other than Brody himself. And thus she goes on to find a life outside of the CIA only to get dragged back into the madness. That's a pretty tricky stage to set for anyone, what more a woman dealing with bi-polar disorder on top of everything else. It's only fitting that she has such a strong father figure in the form of her CIA mentor Saul (Mandy Patinkin), who seems to believe in her no matter what.

But we as viewers know that his faith does have some basis, even if they all don't know the truth just yet. And this second season finally takes steps to vindicate her, but how this comes about is still surprising. And I definitely loved the much faster pacing this time around. Seriously, the first few episodes were rather quick and heavy with the plot twists and reveals and often times it felt like some of those episodes could have been season finales for other shows. More than once Tobie and couldn't help but wonder where the show might go next given the revelations in a particular episode.

When you get to the mid-point of this season, you'll better appreciate why exactly Damien Lewis won the Golden Globe this year given what his character had to go through. I really don't want to get into spoilers just yet. But MAN, what a wringer. Let's just say that as the season progresses, it feels like you start watching a completely different show given how many things change.

And it doesn't help that we never truly understand what the true terrorist plot is - which is pretty much par for the course for the real CIA more often than not. Counter-terrorism efforts rely on a lot of research and a lot of guess work as you try to puzzle through what the objectives of the terrorists really will be. And the show helped capture a lot of that as we go through a number of potential scenarios - only to be surprised at the end of the show.

Homeland remains a gripping series that reflects a lot of the darkness of these post-9/11 years and how the war on terror has evolved. And it's darn good television too. This second season gets 4.5 moments of Carrie lashing out at her critics more out of trauma than sense out of a possible 5.

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