Homeland, Season Two: A Review

Ken AshfordPopular Culture2 Comments

Yeah.  Spoliers, probably.

The writers of Showtime's Homeland had a hit on their hands with Season One.  It was a unique show with clever plot twists and great acting.  And the question was: how do you follow up a hit season like that?

Well, having watched Season Two of Homeland, I have the answer: you don't.

Season Two had a real plausibility problem.  Yes, I know, I know.  The whole show is implausible in a way.  But here's the difference — in Season One, when the plot would veer to some dark and unforeseen corner, we went with it.  In Season Two, when the plot (or some odd subplot) emerged, we kind of went, "Really? Um… okay… I guess."

It started pretty early in Season Two, in Episode 2.  We see the CIA plan a hit on the arch-nemesis of Season One, Abu Nazir.  And Brody, still loyal to Nazir, is sitting in a CIA office with the Vice President and a bunch of other high-ranking people, watching it unfold on various television monitors.  How does Brody save the day?  He sends a text to Nazir.  And sure enough, Nazir lives another day (although several of his henchmen meet their maker).

Really?  Um… okay… I guess.

Then, in Episode 3, Nazir gives Brody an assignment — to go get the guy in Gettysburg who made the bomb vest, and take him to a safe house before the CIA can swoop in on him.

Brody?  Isn't there anyone else who can do this?  Why would Nazir ask a Congressman to do this rather menial task?

Really? Um… okay… I guess.

Episode 4 had an unconvincing moment as well.  Carrie is talking to Brody in a bar — it's a set-up; she's trying to get information from him.  In the course of the conversation, he asks her about electro-shock therapy, and she breaks down.  Afterwards, she calls the CIA (who have been watching this on the hidden cam monitors) and says that her breakdown with Brody revealed to him that she was lying about everything. "He's on to us", she insists.  (And of course, she's right). 

But how was Brody able to tell that he was being set-up merely because Carrie reacted emotionally when talking about her electro-shock?  I'm not sure what one thing has to do with the other, but…

Really? Um… okay… I guess.

Episode 5 was the course-changing plot of the entire series.  Under questioning by the CIA, Brody confesses.  He confesses everything.  EVen though he had been tortured for 8 years by al Qaeda, all it took was a stab in the hand, and Carrie's battering eyes, and he caves.

Really?  Really?  Um… okay.

And then we're treated for the rest of the series to silly subplots — e.g., the Vice President's son and Dana, Brody's daughter, get invovled in a hit-and-run, which, in the end, doesn't do much but give actress Morgan Saylor, a lot to do.

But gone are the moments where we are left in doubt as to where Brody stands.  After Episode 5, we know where he stands, and it's not as much fun.

And even toward the end… are we supposed to believe that the big bad NSA assassin refuses to kill Brody, simply because he saw how happy Brody and Carrie were at the cabin?  What kind of a pussy assassin is that?  They spent episode after episode making this guy to mean real business, and then he can't carry out his assignment?  Because his heart is softened by seeing love???

Fortunately, the Season Two finale cleanses most of Season Two, kills off many secondary charactors, and puts the show in a whole new light.  It's really a different show now, or has the potential to be.  We probably won't see much of Brody's family anymore (since he's left them for Carrie).  In fact, we may not even see much of Brody.  And it looks like Saul — still the best thing about the show — is running the CIA, given that the CIA ranks thinned out considerably.

The big baddies, Vice President Walden and Abu Nazir are gone.  Now, the show has become The Fugitive with Brody on the run for a crime he didn't commit, and Carrie being the only one who can prove his innocence.  It's a better plot-line that Season Two, and hopefully it will take some twists.

And F. Murray Abraham, too.  A star that big doesn't get on a series for five minutes in the 10th episode.

What they do with it is anybody's guess.  But hopefully, it won't be the Brody-Carrie mughy love story again.