Post 9/11 Blues by RizMC is an apt title for this Atlantic import. The world changed after September 11th and western culture has taken its time to respond. Adapted from a hit Israeli TV series of the same name, Homeland is what you might call a television spy drama along the lines of a Hollywood version of Spooks. The series directly deals with an America coming to terms with its current role in the world after a ten year war on terror. The opening credits are testament to this fact. Footage of the 9/11 attacks are interspersed with newsreels from the bombing of the USS Cole, the Lockerbie bombings and UN Security Council votes. With tense pulsating action that drives the weaving plot from episode to episode, there are two principal characters that together form the fulcrum upon which loyalty to country is tested and true beliefs are scrutinised.
One half of this story is Carrie Mathison, a CIA intelligence officer who is haunted by her past operational failures as well as her own mental illness. An independent and thoroughly engaging character, Miss Mathison is the show’s Bond-esque figure. With wilful disregard for protocol and a pill popping habit, she is driven by a desire to protect her homeland from another attack. Miss Mathison is played by Claire Danes with uncompromising force. A scene that will particularly stay with viewers involves Miss Mathison being put through electroconvulsive therapy.
The other half of this story is Sergeant Nicholas Brodie (Damien Lewis), a marine who has for many years been held as a prisoner in Iraq by Abu Nazir’s terrorist cell. The mental and physical scars that drive this returned veteran are put under the spotlight by Miss Danes and her agency’s associates. With the modern intelligence apparatus in full use, Sergeant Brodie’s ‘imperfect’ family life are laid bare, with each action and reaction being read as a sign of guilt or obfuscation. Acting as resident voyeur, Miss Danes big brother role is a pertinent reminder of the limitless extent of state intrusion to which Orwell so rightly highlighted.
The cast that revolves around this pair exhibit some notable performances. Amongst them is Saul Berenson, the father figure of Miss Mathison and Middle-East Division Chief, resembles a grizzly old bear in aspect and appearance. Whilst Morena Baccarin’s Jessica Brodie, the wife telephoned in the act of fornication with news of Brodie’s return and David Harewood’s David Estes, the Director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Centre who’s buffeting by terrorist incidents seems to continue on a daily basis also turn in stellar performances.
Series 1 attracted a large and committed audience, with a recently re-elected president naming it as his favourite TV show. It is amusing to think that as life so often mirrors art, not to mention the other way round, a commander in chief may gain some intellectual succour from this thoroughly modern drama. With the second series having just ended its twelve episode run and with a third series already commissioned, Homeland will thankfully be a Sunday night spectacle for many years to come.