The first season of Homeland was one of the best programmes on TV. It should have been a difficult act to follow, but so far season two has been even better as the show has expanded its focus to create a wider, more involving story line.
After last year’s explosive final – in every sense other than the most literal one – Damian Lewis’ Sergeant Nicholas Brody is juggling a hectic work life balance. It’s not easy trying to run for Vice President and carry out the orders of a known terrorist while at the same time trying your best to prevent people finding out what you did at the end of series one. Get that man a double whisky and a back rub.
At the same time Carrie Mathison (Clare Danes) is trying to move on after being fired from the CIA, but it’s not long before the two of them are locking horns – and other things – once again.
What I’ve been most impressed with is how the writers have re-energised this season after the cop-out ending last time around. They’ve crafted a beautiful series of events that managed to replace everyone on the board in a naturalistic fashion while at the same time expanding the tale.
In fact the whole programme feels bigger. The focus has moved from a single character to the ensemble cast. Characters who were sidelined last year – like Dana, Brody’s daughter and Mike Faber, Brody’s best friend and his wife’s former lover – now have their own story lines which in turn helps to develop the drama.
Great writing is only part of a successful series. You need good actors to translate the words from the page to the screen and Homeland has some of the best. The number of acting awards this series has received is entirely unsurprising: there are genuinely no weak links – including the child actors, who (let’s be honest) are often a bit rubbish in these kind of shows.
The only negatives are the problems left over from season one. I still don’t buy the love relationship between Carrie and Brody. I get that they share a connection as they’ve both seen the nasty side of war, but it still feels like a clunky plot device. The other problem is the CIA mole. He or she seems to have been completely forgotten despite the fact that they caused major problems for Carrie during the first season.
Surely catching this person would be fairly high up in the CIA’s list of priorities, although having said that the mole will probably return/be caught in this week’s episode and make me look a fool. Though if that does happen you’ll find no fool happier than me!
It’s important to point out that neither of these issues spoil the series. Every episode is filled with so much tension you need to lie on the sofa after the end credits and take a five-minute breather. I just hope they manage to sustain this hectic pace. If so, Homeland could be one of the greatest TV series of this decade.