I’d had my eye on Homeland before it had premiered in the States and way ahead of its acquisition by Channel 4. Having been spellbound by Band of Brothers for most of my teenage years, I’ve always kept track of Damian Lewis’s IMDb page to see what the redhead was up to next. If you too are aware of his work, you’ll know he rarely disappoints.
Lewis plays Sergeant Nicholas Brody, a Marine held captive by Al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Nazir. Having been missing-in-action, presumed dead, a stunned Delta Force team find him during a raid of Nazir’s compound some eight years later. He returns home to a hero’s welcome, but not everyone believes his story. Claire Danes’s Carrie Mathison is the CIA agent who, after being told that “an American prisoner of war had been turned”, begins to suspect that Brody might not be all that he seems.
And so the first season begins. It is difficult to discuss Homeland without giving away a one of the many crucial plot twists. To say that this show will keep you guessing is a bit of an understatement. Whilst this could be frustrating, it is in fact mesmerizing and gives you a clue as to why viewers and critics alike are raving about this show.
Homeland is not flawless. Whilst Carrie is clearly excellent at her job, one does have difficulty believing that the CIA would have missed her pretty violent mood disorder during recruitment. Carrie is cold at times, clearly lonely and certainly paranoid, all of which makes her a difficult lead character to warm to.
But perhaps that is the point. Without Carrie, you are left with Brody who, despite his more agreeable personality, seems to be hiding something. The writers have given the viewers quite the conundrum. Do we side with the pathologically unstable yet brilliant CIA Agent or the all-American hero who might just want to blow everyone to kingdom come?
This is just one of many questions thrown at us from episode one. The writers have been too busy constructing a maze of lies, deceit and deception to give us more of the answers we crave. The rather unsettling, yet admittedly enthralling, realisation that has now set in is that, whilst the plot has moved on at near breakneck speed, we still have so far to go.
The brief glimpses in to the characters’ past are often the most interesting and revealing moments within the show. The ‘flashback’ is one of the primary narrative tools used by the writers, and for the most part they are done extremely well. If anything they help define the show’s individuality as it was always going to have to battle with the likes of 24 in the minds of the viewers.
Homeland is not 24. It is better than 24. And that comes from somebody who has watched every single episode of the latter. I don’t know if Homeland will stretch for a marathon eight seasons but it will definitely have a second season. And the even better news for us poor, worried and stressed students is that all twelve episodes of season one will be waiting for us on 4oD by the start of revision week.