Caitlin Williams watches the start of US thriller, Homeland’s, second series, with baited breath.
The start of the second season of Homeland is already racing across our screens like a bullet shot from the barrel of Tom Walker’s gun. Starting several months after the dramatic ending of the first series, we now see CIA agent Carrie (Clare Danes) adapting to a normal life in the suburbs, the shock-therapy that quelled her obsession with ex-marine turned terrorist Nicholas Brody a distant memory.
Meanwhile, Brody’s (Damian Lewis) slinking his way slyly up the political ladder to top congressman; they are yet to realise how was ‘turned’ by Middle Eastern captors several years ago. Both remain shadowed by their former lives, and the second series continues with the intricate twists that Homeland has become famous for.
As Carrie is dragged back into the war-path of the CIA, the first episode sees us in dusty, dangerous Beirut with new intelligence of Abu Nazir, a staging only comparable to The Bourne Trilogy. Despite being shot in Israel, Lebanese ministers labeled the episode as highly offensive and a consideration of the historical tension between the two nations does suggest why. However, as the Israeli co-creator of the show was blocked from entering Lebanon in the first place, credit goes to the production team for pulling off a fantastic piece of cinematography.
The only thing missing from Homeland so far is a meeting between its two fiery protagonists, Carrie and Brody; sexual tension dropping into the air like notes of jazz. Their highly charged relationship kept viewers hooked in the first series, and with the latest intel discovery in Beirut, this is sure to happen soon and in spectacular fashion. Most fascinating though is Homeland’s insistence on diverting from commonly televised stereotypes.
Danes plays a strong, independent woman constantly at the forefront of the action; like Bond women she is not simply there to provide a stunning side to a male lead. Homeland is just one in a group of new series casting women in the title role; newest BBC series Hunted amongst them. The effect Angelina Jolie has had on Hollywood is perhaps rubbing off on to the smaller screen.
Homeland is also at the forefront of challenging the depiction of religious groups as a threat to the United States. More interesting though is the representation of Brody’s new Islamic belief, which is depicted as more acceptable than the belief of those in the far-east. But despite being defended by a passionate outburst from his daughter at school, Brody’s religion it is still treated as a threat to their new life by his wife.
Yet Homeland’s first series suggested that perhaps the dishonest and self-serving CIA and government where more mixed up in terrorism than would otherwise be expected. Either way Homeland is pushing boundaries, and everything is still to be played for. This challenge is undoubtedly why Obama is rumoured to be such a huge fan of the show; and as the second series bolts towards its conclusion we can only hope that it continues as intensely.
Homeland is on Channel 4 on Sundays at 9pm.