Review: Homeland on Showtime

Each character has their own agenda, and each character is flawed enough to make the show believable.

WYTHE CO., Va., October 9, 2012 — Long before Homeland was awarded six Emmys, it was considered it one of the best shows on television; a great way to spend an hour every Sunday at 10 p.m. watching it on Showtime. 

Homeland’s premise is simple enough. Sergeant Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) was a prisoner of war in the middle east for eight years. Once rescued he returns to America a hero only to be pursued by capable, but over ambitious and bi-polar CIA agent, Carrie Mathison, (Claire Danes) who is sure he was turned while in captivity. 

Danes’ character is flawed and fragile to say the least, but her obsessive focus on stopping the next inevitable attack is just compelling enough to make her likeable. The show moves inside the world of espionage, a decidedly dirty business made even dirtier in the post 9/11 world.

Agent Mathison has no qualms about bending the rules, and at times confirms everything a cynic might assume the intelligence community is capable of justifying in the name of national security. Any naiveté about the ends justifying the means is surrendered early in the first season when Agent Mathison sets up unauthorized round the clock surveillance on Sergeant Brody. 

This fast and loose mindset is part of the roller coaster ride Danes’ character takes you on, made all the more precarious by her manic episodes and “liberated” morals. Her obsession is a presence in itself, so much so that you realize early on she is headed for a meltdown. 

On the other hand, her obsessive personality is at times her best tool in uncovering conspiracies. Her willingness to abandon protocol and react on her feet gives her character an air of danger and uncertainty that keeps the viewer guessing. 

Sergeant Brody returns to America secretly a sympathizer with the Muslim world, with a plot to kill the vice president and soon to be presidential candidate that only a faulty switch and a last second call from his daughter prevents from being successful. 

Even as he sets up to execute this plot, Sergeant Brody gives the appearance of the reluctant assassin, more a passenger of his fate than a willing participant.

At times he seems just as surprised by his actions as the viewer.

These two characters alone make for a good show, but the Emmy winning writers have wisely developed a host of ancillary characters, each with their own believable agendas. Virtually every character feels either the fallout of Brody’s secret agenda or Mathison’s obsessive drive, giving whole new meaning to the much over-used espionage term “collateral damage.” 

Brody’s wife, (Morena Baccarin) is quickly enamored with the idea of Brody becoming vice president, while his rebellious daughter, (Morgan Saylor) struggles with the fact that her father is secretly a Muslim, and stays a breath away from spoiling everything by revealing his secret. 

Season Two opens with Brody as a congressman and likely vice presidential candidate. Agent Mathison has undergone electroconvulsive therapy after having a colossal breakdown and being booted from the CIA.

Reluctantly pulled back in by an “asset”(I love how they call their recruited informants assets to dehumanize them), Agent Mathison heads to the Middle East, landing knee deep in intrigue and danger. She shows a hint of her manic smile, letting the viewer know she is far from healed. 

The asset has information on the CIA’s primary terrorist target, Abu Nazir, and Carrie dives back in, rebellious and unpredictable as ever. Brody, privy to the operation because of his possible vice presidential candidacy, steps in at the last second and foils the operation by warning Nazir with a text message. 

In the span of one season Brody has gone from assassin to refusing to be responsible for harming innocent people. All the while he has flashbacks from his captivity that serves to remind the viewer of the sacrifices he made for his country, and that he is a different man as a result. 

Each character has his or her own agenda, and each character is flawed enough to make the show believable, despite it’s relatively complex plot line. In light of recent unrest in the Middle East and the possibility of increased terrorist activity, this show is topical as well as entertaining; just a couple of the many reasons it is one of the best shows on television.


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Lisa King

I was born and educated in Southwest Virginia, traveled with my job all over America in my twenties and early thirties then came back to the mountains to raise my daughter.

I’ve been employed as everything from a quality control technician in industrial construction, to a mail processing plant manager, to postmaster of a small town. I’ve been to forty nine of the fifty states, as well as many other countries. Traveling will always be a passion I indulge, and something I’ll call upon often in my writing. 

I come from a long line of story tellers, and will shamelessly exploit a family tree resplendent with colorful and unique characters, both past and present.

In short my perspective will reflect the pride and familiarity I have of my Appalachian heritage. My stories will be a reflection of the values I believe we hold dearest here, all embellished with a healthy dose of Southern Appalachian flare.

 

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