Homeland: Season 2, Episodes 1-9
They said it couldn't be done! They said it wouldn't be done! They said it shouldn't be done! Then they saw the huge ratings for Homeland season one and thought: "Yes, actually, let's make a second season, there's money to be made here."
And so we have the next year, in which Sergeant Brody continues to try and balance his roles as Congressman, father, terrorist, CIA asset, and competing with The Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln for Most Successful Disguised Englishman On US TV. (Recently vacated by Hugh Laurie when House was cancelled.) Can they keep things interesting, or did they blow this whole premise to pieces when they outed Brody as an incompetent terror sympathiser at the end of season one?
Spoilers follow for Homeland season two right up to episode nine, the most recent to be aired on UK Channel 4, so catch up on 4OD before reading on.
The Loneliness Of A Drunk Homeland WriterI went into Homeland season two with the same unease as everyone else, not eased by the opening episode, setting things up thusly: Brody is a Congressman and he still might be a terrorist bringing down the system from within, but he also could've decided he wants out, and we're going to drag out this revelation for months. Basically, a slightly altered retelling of season one, with more politics and less domestic spying.
Fortunately for everyone, they didn't do that. Perhaps they were teasing us all along, or they had a whiskey-soaked moment of realistion in a hotel room late at night, after finalising episode one. Y'know, the kind of thing you might see in the show itself: "Shit... we're just trapped in a cycle aren't we? Playing our role, groped by off-screen puppet masters, but it's not too late to break the cycle! Let's do it! Fight the entropy! Let's... arrest Brody instead!" And so they did that, and things improved.
Brody was arrested, stabbed through the hand by crazed CIA/FBI assassin Quinn, and finally ended up as a double-treble agent spying on Abu Nazir for them, his allegiances a confused mess. This is where I expected him to end up - since the producers are determined to keep Damian Lewis on the show - but not until season three at least. Credit to them for surprising me, although the latter half of the season is settling into a more traditional "build up to terrorist attack" rhythm, so we might not get good reveals concerning Brody and Carrie until the final weeks.
Watching A Dull Villain Eating Breakfast While Depressed?With three episodes left, and at the pace this series normally runs, we don't have time for much else. I mean, the latest episode took most of its running time to show us a range of depressed people eating breakfast, reveal the content of Abu Nazir's chat with Brody (assuming he isn't lying) and avert a crap terrorist attack. Has to be said, this show does lack three-dimensional or charismatic villains outside their lead red-headed anti-hero. Nazir, his puppet journalist and that (now-dead?) hitman chap are all bland. Sadly, they've invested too much time in Nazir to knock him off casually and bring in someone "bigger", but I wouldn't mind seeing him taken out during the upcoming season finale still. And not in the "love to hate him" way, just the "Sweet, now we can bring in someone interesting" one.
Oh, and no review of Homeland season two would be complete without a derogatory comment about the Dana romance/hit-and-run storyline, I suppose. So, um, yeah. It didn't consume me with as much rage as some, but they could have done it in less space - especially if its only role was to piss Brody off for one episode. Honestly, they could've had Dana announce it without most of the build-up and that plotline would have worked still. Maybe it'll play a greater role later, you never know.
And finally (for this week), the understandable revelation that the CIA/FBI/Evil Government Coalition have decided to knock Brody off once all this is over. To be honest, his moral compass is so unstable and whirling, I can see their point. Even if he helps them get Nazir, he'll still turn up at the funeral wearing a bomb vest, then detonate it whilst weeping and screaming "I'M SO SORRY DADDY THEY TRICKED ME WITH LOVE!". I want twenty pence from all of you if that now happens.
Anyway, we'll hopefully have regular reviews here on Television @ The Digital Fix for the remaining three episodes of Homeland, so let's see if I'm right. At the very least, I might've called Nazir's death right.
Homeland airs on Channel 4 at 9PM on Sundays. Catch up with recent episodes on 4OD.