A great show organically grows beyond the original intent of the writers. It’s like a spider web; pulling one string can take you on an entire journey you didn’t expect. You can’t get that kind of depth with vague, short-term characters and plots. A producer friend of mine called it “lighting the Christmas tree”. Don’t just build the damn thing, but take it a step further. When you think you’re done writing it, go back and twist it all up again.
Homeland’s recipe is to die for. It’s no surprise though. Executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, who adapted the material (Israeli show Hatufim was original content) for American television, aren’t exactly novices when it comes to making shows about counter-terrorism – they spent years working on the adventures of Jack Bauer on Fox’s hit 24.” (assignmentx.com). The story is about Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA agent, who often gets the clue no one else does, however, she is met with extreme resistance for her out of the box strategies.
For all of you who want to roll your eyes about her so called CIA agent life, guess again. Her ability to play a tom boy who chases after terrorists is surprisingly spot on. She invests everything into this character and her character invests everything she has into her job.
Carrie is tasked with Middle Eastern intelligence missions and specifically gets information that a POW from Iraq has been turned. She thinks its Sargeant Brody who’s come home after being captured and tortured for 8 years. Things aren’t that simple though and the plot continues to thicken all the way through the finale.
The first season reveals Brody’s experiences, his troublesome return to his family who all have issues of their own, and Carrie’s inability to let go of her suspicions even when everyone is against her. The show gives you a WOW moment at least twice in each episode–so you know you’re not going to be suprememly bored.
Sal is Carrie’s trusty CIA mentor who knows she’s right, but is often stuck in a rock in a hard place because of Carrie’s not-so-hidden schizophrenia attacks and dismantling of protocol. She won’t stop at anything to deliver the truth, even if that means becoming a terrible human being herself. By the way, Sal is actually Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride!! He’s all grown up now. There’s something nostalgic about this cast which certainly doesn’t hurt.
So, you can see how Claire has a meaty role; she deserves every accolade coming her way. Brody, played by Damien Lewis (pictured below), has an astonishing ability to draw you in with his piercing green eyes and the mental torture he releases in odd ways.
The writers did a fantastic job laying out the pain, torment and happiness his character would endure coming home from such an awful experience in Iraq. Damien has this ability to run along the edge of both countries; his character has strong, believable ties to both cultures. You want to hate him in one episode, but love him in another. Homeland deep dives into extreme details about each character’s past and present without being obvious, cheesy or unoriginal.
What makes this show brilliant for me is the way the writers/creators laid out the story for the audience. In the first few episodes you get to spy on Brody through cameras in Carrie’s multiple LCD screens. They were able to show multiple plots running at the same time with ease which induced a huge amount of intrigue. Also, they are able to explain complex terrorist operations with multiple people involved without confusing the audience. It’s a damn smart show, and it makes you feel smarter watching it!
As I’ve told most people I know, you need to watch the show if you haven’t already. You can’t miss the performances that are just going to keep getting better. You don’t know what’s going to happen to Brody and Carrie in season 2, but they left it on a cliff with both of them just hanging on by a thread.