Thursday, October 9, 2014

Homeland is Where the Uncertainty Is

This poster for Season 4 gives you very little to work with- but the intrigue is by design. (via

If there was one thing that fans of Homeland could agree on after Season 3, it was that it was the weakest of the trio. A mix  of things contributed to that- such as the focus on Nicholas Brody's daughter and her bad decisions fueled by teen angst. Carrie's mental instability and love of crying. Brody being reduced to a shell of his former self who had recovered from already being a shell of his former self after being a prisoner of war. Then finally, the killing of Brody. While it made sense storyline-wise, it left a bitter taste in many viewers' mouths.

The lackluster effort was a cause for concern. Many wondered how the franchise would carry on and what direction it would go. I remember after the finale, all I could think was "Screw Homeland. Why do I want to watch anymore?" 

Could the show rebound and return to it's Season 1 and 2 prominence? Or would Homeland become a meme of itself and focus on only Carrie and Dana? (Kidding. That would be godawful.)

Most importantly, one question trumped all the rest.

What the hell are they going to do without Brody? 

As they say, life goes on. Whether in the real world or the fictitious one in Homeland- one death will not bring the world as a whole to its knees. Maybe instead of cursing the series for writing Brody off, we should be more thankful for the amount of Damian Lewis we got to see. Originally, his character was only supposed to last one season. Based off the reaction he received, Brody was made an even bigger focal point of the show in seasons 3 and 4. Yet while he's gone, the aftermath is very clear: life is different for everyone.

Season 4 sees Carrie in Istanbul as the youngest station chief in the agency's history. Her first move is to order a drone strike to take out high value targets. The order is carried out- and while it is immediately viewed as a success, it soon comes to light that innocent lives were lost since a wedding was taking place via a Youtube video from the cell phone of Aayan Ibrahim (Suraj Sharma). It puts the agency and everyone involved in a bind, and creates quite the situation for the Americans and the angry public. Ibrahim's friend is responsible for the posting of it (his cousin assisted), and that creates quite the ripple effect for the college student.

Back home, we are treated to Saul, yet not in his Director of the CIA role. Instead, he is a consultant for the military and is having trouble adjusting to the new role. He even ponders quitting, throwing a monkey wrench in the plans of moving with his wife to "that place on 103rd".

One of the biggest additions this season was adding Corey Stoll (House of Cards, The Strain, Law and Order, The Bourne Legacy) as Sandy. His inclusion to the series couldn't replace the loss of Lewis, but it could help offset it.

While the local population's outrage grows, Sandy walks outside the American station's protected walls and is caught on camera, his image shown to everyone with access to a television. Sandy is chased by an angry mob into the streets and meets up with Carrie and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) in an SUV. It does not end well for the trio, as Sandy is pulled out and put at the mercy of the villagers with Carrie and Quinn left with no choice but to flee.

If Homeland were the MLB Playoffs, Sandy was the Angels to the mob's Royals. His time was over before we even had a chance to fully appreciate it.

Part one ends with Carrie washing blood off of her face and looking in the mirror, possibly thinking to herself, "What the f*ck just happened?"

A successful reboot is what happened Sunday night. The second part of the special  two hour premiere dealt more with the big picture ramifications of the bombing. Carrie was sent back home, and Quinn was left mentally fried. Carrie's interrogating of Quinn proved futile.

"Why would you do this to me?" she asked, eyes wide as a deer's.

Quinn replied bluntly with this mic drop of a line: "Carrie, here's the thing: it's not always about you."

But to the Homeland franchise, it sure as hell is. It's now Claire Danes' show, with everyone else- no matter how integral to the storylines- around her as complimentary pieces.

Carrie's life isn't also different professionally, but personally as well. Her baby she conceived with Brody has been born and she's a daily reminder of Carrie's love for Brody, red hair and all. Her reunion with her is brief and somewhat tormenting. While giving her a bath, she submerges her baby for a moment. In that instant her face conveys an awful alternative option: What if I just get rid of this dilemma? She brings the baby back up and hugs her, sorry for even the slightest bit of mental weakness.

The task of taking care of her has been delegated to Carrie's sister, Maggie. It puts a strain on not only their sister/sister relationship but also Maggie's marriage and everyday life. While Carrie is overseas trying to capture and eliminate foreign baddies, her daughter is growing up without her mother. Carrie puts Maggie under the impression she had returned for a prolonged period of time- yet when she find out Carrie is headed back to Istanbul, she is livid (and rightfully so). Carrie isn't being forced to go- she angled for it, in an attempt to seemingly avoid her own daughter. Maggie sees right through it.

"No one's perfect at this, Carrie. 'Perfect mom' is not the standard. You show up. That's what you do."

After a quick good-bye to her daughter, Carrie jumps on a plane back to the agency's camp overseas. She is the only one aboard. The image of her all alone is symbolic of the series first two parts. For now, Carrie is all by herself. Brody is dead. Sandy is dead. Saul is back home as is her family and daughter. Quinn is mentally MIA.

While you might be alone now, Carrie- don't worry. Myself and the rest of those watching on Sunday nights are here to keep you company no matter how screwed up it gets.

Like it? Love it? Hate it? Let me know @SeanNeutron