Last season, while people were getting anxious about the direction “Homeland” was taking, when the show focused on domesticated bliss between a CIA agent and an Al-Qaeda terrorist, viewers began to cringe in anticipation. But then Showtime did something huge, in usual “Homeland” style, the creators changed course so fast, we didn’t know what hit us.
It’s been two months since the bomb went off in Nicholas Brody’s (Damien Lewis) car killing more than 200 people. When the fire has been put out, the ashes remain, but at the Agency, folks are just getting ready for another one. Because all the heads at the agency have died in the blast, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is now director and his advisor is Dar Adal (F Murray Abraham). Yeah, they were once enemies and now they work together and when they do, it’s a wise, old couple’s banter. Dar persistently whispers in Saul’s ear, manipulating him and steering in the opposite direction. Together they have ordered the quick (and unrealistically smooth) assassination of six “enemy combatants” who were involved in the blast at Langley. It’s a small win, against the giant fail they’ve had to deal with in the last 60 days. It’s also the basis of the episode’s title, where one particularly difficult enemy is code-named Tin Man, a nod to “Wizard Of Oz” characters. The others too follow with names like Cowardly Lion and Toto.
Other than this one operation, the season premiere primarily deals with the aftermath of the blast. Like headless chickens, it appears everyone is looking for someone else to blame. This so especially since the Agency is being pulled up by Congress under the hawk eye of Senator Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) who’s bent on dishing out punishment. When Carrie (Claire Danes) is put under oath, she must hide her knowledge of certain Agency details, like how Brody had become a double agent in lieu of immunity. Danes has already won two Emmys for her work as Carrie. So when her face crumples with guilt over her actions, we believe her. When she thinks it was her meds that caused her blunted focus, we sympathise with her. Danes as the CIA officer, victim to her own ill mind is as always brilliant. But she has gone off her meds before and we’ve seen her deteriorate, so how are things going to be different this time. Will the show rely on Carrie’s able shoulders to deliver all the drama they have to offer? What alienates her even more is the fact that there’s a mole at the Agency who’s leaking information to the media in the hope, as Dar pointed out, that it would be insurance against Carrie’s rattling mouth during her sessions with the Senator.
Meanwhile Brody was MIA during the episode, while his family tried to get back on course after Dana (Morgan Saylor) returns home from rehab due to her botched suicide attempt. She’s got a new boyfriend situation happening, but we know those boob pictures she sent him are just leading to more trouble. Jessica (Morena Baccarin) must get a job to support her family, while her annoying mother is helping out. It’s all very tense in the Brody household and they’re all walking on eggshells. Every attempt to keep things light has the authenticity of how pointless it would seem to keep your spirits up when the head of your family turned out to be a wanted terrorist. But that rarely ever really happens.
We all know that “Homeland” exists in a wild universe where the plot, try as the writers might, is a million miles away from reality. Everything from the Agency’s perfectly aligned operations to the Carrie and Brody romance and even the hierarchy at Langley after the blast. So all the guilt that was brimming over the surface throughout the episode seemed a bit saturating. We’re not saying don’t focus on the feelings, but don’t wallow in it either. Nonetheless, the end of Episode One makes it clear that “Homeland” is going to be pretty brazen about where and how the characters are going to progress. We just have to wait, watch and squirm, like we always do.
- Watch the next episode of “Homeland” on October 7, 2013, 10 pm on Star World Premiere HD.