Homeland: Season 4 developed by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon (Teakwood Lane Productions, Cherry Pie Productions, Keshet Broadcasting)
Starring Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, Rupert Friend, Tracy Letts, Maury Sterling, F. Murray Abraham, Nazanin Boniadi, Laila Robins, and Mark Moses.
*Spoiler Alert for Previous Seasons*
Representing Our Culture Psyche
Sometimes, the success of a show emerges from its relationship with culture. 24 represents such an example. Launched shortly after 9/11, the show quickly gained acclaim and cultural status as an hour each week where America could collectively let off steam and kill some bad guys. The show earned a die-hard following with a take-no-prisoners philosophy and carried actual stakes with many beloved characters meeting the reaper.
In the broader cultural milieu, America faced uncertainty with a War on Terror and a new normal where terrorism could situate the home front as a war zone. The country felt the righteous rage of injustice and 24 let us all commence plots of revenge, much like the youth of World War II killing Nazis through a comic book.
With further shifting in our culture, 24 has diminished and it seems Homeland has emerged as the replacement.
The Drone Queen
Season 4 of the series commissions the main character, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), to the Middle East, first as station chief in Kabul—where she earns the nickname “Drone Queen” for her indiscriminate ability of dropping bombs on terrorists in the tribal areas.
After a rash decision to bomb a Pakistani wedding attended by known terrorist, Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar), a revolt in Islamabad leads to the death of CIA station chief, Sandy Bachman (Corey Stoll).
And so begins the narrative as Carrie receives the burden of Pakistan station chief with the help of her go-to team members Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), Max (Maury Sterling), and Fara (Nazanin Boniadi).
Who was the mastermind behind Sandy’s death? Is Pakistan involved in anti-American terrorist plots? Who are Carrie’s friends? Who are her enemies? And in the background to these narratives, Carrie’s daughter waits at home for a mother she barely knows.
A Finger on the Pulse of a Nation
Despite some ups and downs after a sterling first season, Homeland seems to have its pulse on the minds of America. Where the 2000s found definition in active warfare, the 2010s seem to revolve around paranoia. America doesn’t feel like the global super power it once was and it feels like much of the world would love to bump us down a notch.
Therefore, we see danger in every shadow. We believe every friend has ulterior motive. Every handshake has a knife in the back. And so Season 4 of Homeland takes the champion’s belt from 24. Even with some ponderous episode choices at the front and back of the season, Homeland offers up a spy thriller steeped in the paranoia our society seems express these days. For that reason alone, Homeland is worth your time.
Verdict: 4 out of 5