Carrie-ing it off

This is my review of Homeland – Season 2 [DVD].

Season 2 of Homeland is faster paced, more exciting yet also less plausible than Season 1 which you need to watch first.

Brody (Damien Lewis) continues to walk the tightrope between his role as a war hero Congressman being groomed to serve as future Vice President under the unscrupulous Walden, and that of a closet Muslim convert manipulated by the fanatical al-Qaeda member Abu Nazir to perpetrate acts of terrorism. Although not fully recovered from her manic episode, her confidence shattered from the mistaken belief that she was "wrong about Brody", CIA agent Carrie Mathison is called back to work on an assignment requiring her unique rapport with a would-be defector in Beirut, and is allowed to stay despite her loose cannon unreliability.

Although increasingly ludicrous, the plot twists are no more so than in many equivalent series. It is also quite amusing to spot the occasional error, as when a supposed Beirut street seems to contain a number of Hebrew shop signs.

"Homeland" stands out for me as the only popular mainstream American drama which avoids an unquestioning, gung-ho, patriotic stance on US foreign policy on the lines of "US good no matter what – Muslim terrorists bad". Apart from the fact that, in real life, Brody would surely have had more counselling, we remain unsure as to what extent he really is a terrorist, and whether his embracing of Islam is the result of brainwashing or a genuine spiritual response. Walden, a former Director of the CIA, now Vice President, and Estes, the Head of CIA Counterterrorism are portrayed as corrupt and amoral "bad men" in contrast to Abu Nazir who sometimes arouses sympathy, and to the complex Brody who at one points expresses the desire to prove that he can be "a good man". In the background, the confusion and shifting emotions of Brody's wife, children and former friends are convincing, adding depth to the thud and blunder main plot.

Although I felt that the final episode was very much a case of putting everything in place for Season 3, at least I can look forward to this as a fresh knotted situation to unpick rather than the "flogging to death" of a worn-out scenario.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars

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