Let’s talk Homeland – arguably the most exciting, well-written show currently on TV. If you aren’t watching it, you’re missing out. Claire Danes stars as Carrie, a CIA agent who suspects that Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), the marine who’s been held captive by al-Qaeda for 8 years, has turned against his country and is acting as a spy for the terrorist group. Season one kept us in suspense, always questioning but never sure where Brody’s loyalties lay. By its end, we knew – but we were the only ones. Carrie’s mental health came into question, causing not only her family and colleagues but Carrie herself to question her sanity.
Four episodes into season two, we know who’s playing for whom and exactly how high the stakes are. Yet, the show has lost none of its excitement, none of the thrill. And it’s because of the whip-smart writing and fearless performances. Homeland consistently takes you to the edge but never goes too far, redefining its limits nearly every episode without ever losing its focus.
Danes and Lewis knock it out of the park every episode and I admit that while I know their story lines must keep them apart the majority of the time, the scenes in which they star together, playing off one another, their strong personalities sparring, are some of the most exhilarating. Mandy Patinkin as Carrie’s mentor, Saul, also plays his role to perfection and Morgan Saylor as Brody’s daughter, Dana, shines in every one of her scenes. I can’t predict how her budding relationship with the son of the Vice President will come into play but I don’t doubt that it will have a larger, significant role in the grander scheme of things. Nothing happens just for its own sake with these writers.
I was happy to see Rupert Friend guest starring as Peter Quinn, the guy Estes put in charge of Carrie’s operation. He and Carrie have already established a tense yet charismatic rapport, both annoying and challenging each other, while each simultaneously intrigued by the other. I’ve been a fan of Friend’s since Pride & Prejudice; I hope his run on Homeland is a long and relevant one.
Now that Carrie has forced the CIA’s hand in arresting and questioning Brody, I can’t see any other option but for Brody to turn double agent and spy on his benefactor, Abu Nazir. With these writers, though, who knows what turn of events they’ve got planned. Every time I think I’ve guessed what will happen, they surprise me. Any other show would have dragged this out all season, gotten Brody closer to the White House, made his arrest the cliffhanger in the season finale. But not Homeland. No cheap tricks or predictable plot lines for this show. Its writers are simply too smart for such frivolity. Which is why Sunday night has become my favorite night of the week.