Mid-Season Review: Homeland

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The second season of Homeland has reached its mid way point and looks set to continue its dominance at the major American television awards. This isn’t a surprise; it is hard to find television as flawless as Homeland. Intricate plot lines, good enough even to rival The Wire, complex characters, fantastic acting and a great support cast mean that it is one of the best television shows around.

Showtime’s Homeland has so far delivered a satisfying continuation of its critically acclaimed, brilliant first season. The action is tense and the writing clever; the second season has had me on the edge of my seat many times already, and it’s only half way through. The opening episode, “The Smile”, brought Homeland back with a bang. Following on roughly six months after the end of the first season, it left us with no doubt that Carrie, now living a mundane life teaching English as a foreign language, will be working for the CIA again (even after her awful treatment by her boss at the CIA, David Estes). Credit must go to Claire Danes for her portrayal of Carrie. She won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and rightly so. Her performance is nothing short of a master class in acting (watch out for the smile that gives the opening episode its title).

Couple this with the talents of Damian Lewis, who also won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, and you have a show on your hands. Lewis manages to evoke sympathy for Brody, a man who was willing to blow himself up to kill innocent people, a testament to his ability. The first half of season two has seen Brody’s lies catch up with him, whether they are to his family or to Carrie, and he has not emerged unscathed. We have also had more development for Brody’s daughter, played by the improving Morgan Saylor, and parallels to her father can be drawn from her storyline. The one gripe I have with the first few episodes is that I find it hard to believe Abu Nazir would risk compromising a prize asset such as Brody by giving him some of the tasks he has, transporting the Gettysburg tailor being the prime example.

“Q&A” was a defining episode and it completely flipped the show on its head. It was my favourite episode so far, and dealt with many of the questions that might have been asked about how the show was going to move forward, especially after the dramatic ending of “New Car Smell”. Lewis and Danes on screen together are a joy to behold. Each scene they are in together is like watching a complicated game of chess being played out. You’re never sure who is playing who or whether they are telling the truth, and in “Q&A” we saw the best of them yet.

There is never a dull moment in Homeland; each episode has a tense, pivotal moment and leaves you desperate for more. The shocking climax which marked the end of “A Gettysburg Address” and the mid way point of season 2 leads into the next highly anticipated six episodes. I look forward to each episode with trepidation and excitement, because currently there is no other television that keeps you guessing as much as this one. Every time a question is answered, new ones are asked.

Homeland is on Sundays at 9PM on Channel 4.

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