Homeland opens its fourth season with an intense two hour return to form.
There’s been lots of talk about the decline of Homeland, with its incredible first season and then the steady decline across the next two. After dealing with the Brody issue, and by that I mean not just Carrie’s baby daddy, but his entire brood, Homeland returns to espionage fueled tales that made it so great to begin with. It’s not a hard reset, but it’s pretty damn close.
Carrie is back in the field now, running the show in Kabul, and known as “The Drone Queen.” Indeed, in the opening minutes we watch as she orders a strike based on what seemed to be solid intel on the location of Taliban leader Haissam Haqqani. It quickly becomes a nightmare for all involved, when it’s revealed that location was a wedding where the Taliban leader was killed along with 40 civilians. To add to the PR troubles, a student named Aayan, also the nephew of Haqqani, survived with phone footage of the wedding just seconds before the missiles hit, that goes viral across the web. There’s also a mystery around the intel that led to the hit, acquired from Sandy Bachman, a lone wolf agent who is traditionally reliable, although extremely secretive about his sources and activities.
As far as Beard-watch 2014, Saul is still kicking, although he’s struggling to switch gears to the private sector after losing out on the promotion to director last season. Employed at a defense contracting firm, Saul nearly blows important meetings by spouting his foreign policy opinions. Mira is back in the picture, but Saul’s having issues putting down roots and focusing on her needs, which is a bit of a shame given how hard he fought for her.
With all this action going on, I almost forgot Carrie has a baby now, left back at home in the care of her sister. It’s a bone of contention between them, and we can see the struggle on Carrie’s face as she tries to avoid anything to do with the child. On a happier note, Quinn is still kicking around, although he’s struggling even more with the violence of his past, which is expertly contrasted with Carrie’s ability to compartmentalize the events around her.
The acting is as solid as it’s always been, especially now that these characters are given so much more to do. Early shout out to Claire Danes’ ability to play up both Carrie’s badass side to an uncomfortable degree, as well as her darker places when dealing with the infant. As Aayan, Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi) is delivering a solid performance that is slowly building up to a great payoff. There’s lots of tension as we watch to see if he’s going to turn and aid America’s interest or seek revenge as a terrorist.
SO the big question with Homeland’s return is: after all we’ve watched, does the audience still care about these characters? I can say that after these episodes, fans and newcomers have no need to doubt that the creative team is bent on re-energizing Homeland back to its previous heights. I think we can call this one a welcome comeback.
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