I don’t envy the producers or writers of Homeland. It seems now that people aren’t exactly willing the Showtime series to succeed.
The first series, which admittedly I only watched earlier this year, was such a fantastic roller coaster ride that you can understand why it’s been hard to keep up the momentum. It’s understandable that fans are sceptical as to whether the series can find its feet without the draw of Damien Lewis. Fans of the early days of Homeland need to get over it and learn the show has moved on.
With that said, does this new rebooted version actually work, or does it serve as further proof that Homeland should have ended after the second series?
Early signs seem promising but, if like me you’ve never been a big fan of Carrie (Claire Danes) you might find it harder going than usual. The fourth series starts with haphazard Carrie Mathison far from home, back in the field, working as Chief of Station at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
She’s tasked with protecting U.S. interests in the region from the Taliban forces and sometimes that involves checking targets off a kill list. This is a clever device that might just make it feel different enough for longtime viewers to eventually drop their Brody fixation. The tension builds slowly to allow us to get familiar with our new surroundings, but suffers slightly as Carrie and mentor Saul don’t get the chance to have one their intense face to face interactions. The action and tension we’ve come to expect is ramped up when Carrie orders a drone strike which, as with anything Carrie touches, comes back to bite her. It’s here the episode seems to come into its own and give us a glimpse of the tone of the new series. They cleverly show the POVs of both the bombers (the military team Carrie commands) and the people attending the wedding where the U.S.’s main target happens to be.
During the frantic scenes that follow, I found myself drawn in. Admittedly I wasn’t as drawn in as I was in the first episodes of the first series, but there’s something about Homeland that keeps me engaged.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is working for a private contractor that’s bidding for defense jobs and back with wife Mira. All should be well in his life, but as this is Homeland, he’s far from content with his new life. He isn’t seeing eye to eye with his new boss and longing for something more challenging. This was obviously a device to reunite Saul with Carrie, though we may have to wait a while for him to touchdown in Afghanistan.
Carrie’s time in Afghanistan is made even more complicated when video of her disastrous drone strike goes viral online. The video leads to Sandy Bachman to being exposed in the press as an agent which sends the local into a frenzy and Bachman running for his life. It’s here I found myself on the edge of my seat as Carrie and Quinn (who is also working in Afghan) race to his rescue but are caught between their agent and the locals who are vying for his blood. As Sandy is dragged away by a murderous crowd, Carrie and Quinn speed away and I could take a breath. In was in these final wonderfully brutal moments I believe the new series of Homeland found its feet and set out the building blocks of the rebooted fourth outing. Broady and his family may be gone, and although I’ll miss them greatly, I’m not giving up on Homeland just yet and I don’t think fans of tense and exciting dramas should either.
Homeland Sundays 9.00pm on Channel 4