Homeland Season 2 is every bit as captivating and breathtaking as its first season, which won the ‘Best Drama Series’ at the Golden Globes. It manages to continually impress, and even challenges some serious moral issues, as it ventures further into the radical and unknown.

Brody becomes further caught up in his own web of lies, strung between his family, Nazir and his accomplices (who are too close to home for comfort), and the less than trustworthy CIA. Whilst some viewers will undoubtedly complain that the series grows rather absurd, the concept of an Islamic United States marine POW turned terrorist, who is also an influential Congressman and candidate for Vice President already seems implausible and it is a strong testament to the actors, principally Damian Lewis (Brody) and Claire Danes (Carrie), that the series remains captivating and completely viable.

Regardless of the high standard set by the first series, the second becomes more exhilarating, as the war between the CIA, the ‘terrorists’ and Brody somewhere in-between, steps up a gear, perhaps due principally to the return of Nazir to the fold. On top of the increase in the war of words, intellect, and lies, the series becomes increasingly violent and the plot intricate. These improvements serve only to make the show more intoxicating.

Although in many ways the season appears to be a carbon copy of the first, especially the ‘I love you, I love you not’ petal-picking type relationship between Carrie and Brody, and can be tedious at times as Carrie is as irritating as ever, the series is even more ethically challenging and exciting. Furthermore, our trust in the CIA is confronted to the point of breaking, transforming the million-dollar question concerning who is trustworthy in season one, into the billion-dollar question for this season. Watch out because the sub-plots can be a little irritating, although they are certainly interesting, and do not subtract from the main plot, which continues to retain interest.

The truly unexpected series finale has the desired shocking effect, and yet any devout follower of the series would be unsurprised by the lack of a happy ending. Indeed, as everything becomes lined up for a happily ever after, one cannot stop oneself from bracing for the unavoidable misery.

The series does explore some fascinating moral issues, for example the inevitable freedom fighter vs. terrorist argument, and was always going to be more challenged due to the protagonist choosing to associate himself with a terrorist despite being an American soldier. This showdown debate is absolutely fantastic, and yet has the potential to do so much more. The opportunity to seriously challenge this idea is explored to much more depth than in most other films and series, but ultimately the scene (and the show) presents Muslims as bad, and Americans as good. The theme of corruption in politics is also explored, yet the point that is made is glaringly obvious. The essence of the problem of these wasted opportunities is that Brody is an intensely likable character, and so even when he is doing the worst imaginable, we want him to survive. This perhaps, is perhaps also the most fascinating aspect though, as it creates a conflict in the viewers’ minds, rather than on screen. Should we be supporting the terrorist? Is he even a terrorist?

Overall, this review is far more critical than need be, perhaps because whilst the show is excellent, and a must watch for everyone, it falls just agonizingly short of being one of the best ever. The next season will surely be awaited with bated breath.

James Mason

 

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