Homeland: Season 2 developed by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting)
Starring Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Morena Baccarin, Jackson Pace, Morgan Saylor, Mandy Patinkin, David Harewood, Diego Klattenhoff, Rupert Friend.
*Spoiler Alert for Season 1 in effect*
The Writers’ Conundrum
I don’t envy television writers. In a serialized format, and hopefully over the course of many years, writers must pen consistent characters while simultaneously breaking barriers to keep the viewer interested. Just as the public grew weary of Creed’s act after 3 identical albums, so too will shows lose eyeballs if there isn’t a continual push for shocking developments in overarching narratives.
Often times, this phenomenon carries the label, “jumping the shark.” But not all shows jump the shark in a similar fashion, nor do they require consistent delineation between before and after this event as if everything good occurs on one side of the shark and everything putrid on the other.
In fact, Season 2 of Showtime’s Homeland raises intriguing questions about this point of no return.
A critical darling during its first season as a slow-broiling CIA thriller, much of what dredged around below the surface explodes in Season 2. For this reason, the writers have left themselves in a difficult position. Given the circumstances of Season 2, where do they go from here without completely losing credibility with its audience?
When Orbiting Paths Direct Us to the Center
Season 2 begins a few months after the events of Season 1’s finale. Carrie (Claire Danes), no longer working with the CIA, lives with her father and manages her bi-polar disorder while making a small income teaching ESL.
Her life, however, is turned upside down when a former informant has vital information for U.S. national security but will only speak with Carrie.
With much coaxing from CTC director David Estes (David Harewood) and former mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), Carrie agrees to meet her asset. With this one pledge, Carrie dives back into her intelligence work setting a course straight for U.S. Congressman and supposed terrorist, Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis).
Brody, meanwhile, is getting his feet wet in the United States government, but continues to feel the pressure from his al-Qaeda handlers. He desires change from within. And yet, whenever lynchpin Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) requires crucial information, he sends his messengers to Brody with threats in case Brody refuses to comply.
In Consideration of What’s Next
As the season unfolds, Homeland’s main characters make a series of choices that not only make their future contributions to the show tenuous, but also contribute to the current plot with volatile results.
In essence, Homeland’s second season is drastically different from its first. Where Season 1 depicted a slow thriller with heavy doses of mystery, Season 2 replaces much of the slow, character-driven aspects with fast-paced action. Body counts rise; relationships fray.
Yet the show remains imminently watchable, for now.
My main worry with Homeland going forward sits with the writer’s keyboard. Given the stakes of Season 2, the writers can’t have a character issue a mea culpa and then move on to the next chapter. With the many gigantic plot developments, it seems as if Season 3 might require some space to breath. But will the writers have the guts to follow through with this recommendation? Certainly a fair number of viewers will get hooked with the action and yearn for more. Homeland needs some time for introspection and I hope we get it.
But in the meantime, continue watching the show. If you have yet to see Season 2, I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5