As the second season of Homeland began, there were several unanswered questions lingering from the incredible ﬁrst season. How would the writers work Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) into the story now that she’s been dismissed from the CIA? Would Sergeant Brody’s (Damian Lewis) political aspirations become reality? How would that affect his apparent loyalties to the terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir?
At the beginning of the season two premiere, the characters seemed to have found peace, a stark contrast to last season’s constant state of tension and ﬂux. Carrie is teaching English as a second language after being ﬁred by the CIA and undergoing electroshock therapy. She spends her days living quietly and working on her recovery from the nervous breakdown that necessitated her hospitalization at the end of season one.
Sgt. Brody has retired from the Marine Corps and is now a Congressman, his political star rising. The uncertainty about his loyalties appeared to be resolved, as was the tension between him and his wife.
But, as is becoming a signature of Homeland, the peace is short lived and the trouble that follows the relative calm takes the characters into a deeper, darker place. The writers work Carrie Mathison back into the thick of the story masterfully in a way that’s credible and believable, not an easy task considering how they virtually destroyed her character at the end of season one. Despite her dilemma, there is never a cheap, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in,” moment from Carrie, although the episode is written in a way that the audience knows that’s exactly how she feels.
Brody’s period of serenity is shattered, both professionally and personally, in another clever piece of writing. The facade that he was apparently living behind is sufﬁciently destroyed and we are given a glimpse of the predicament he is still very much in. Rarely will we see a better use of conﬂict in any medium.
Adding to the complexity of Brody’s circumstances is the emergence of his wife, Jessica, (Morena Baccarin) into an opinionated and demanding character, something of a contrast to her guilt-ridden persona in season one. It’s yet another dimension that Brody will have to contend with as his life and situation continue to spiral into oblivion. Fortunately for him, his daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor), the reason he wasn’t able to detonate his suicide vest at the end of the ﬁrst season, has evolved into an understanding and sympathetic young woman. She displays a ﬁerce loyalty to her father that is sure to be tested in later episodes and should provide to be an interesting sub plot.
The one fault with Homeland that has carried over from the ﬁrst season is the apparent weakness of Mathison’s former boss, the CIA Counterterrorism Center Director David Estes, for women. Estes (David Harewood) is tough, intelligent, and uncompromising, yet we learned in season one that he had a history of carrying on relationships with co-workers, including Carrie. In the season two premiere, he stonewalls an attractive female reporter, yet cannot seem to resist her invitation to dinner. It’s a characteristic that seems out of place for such a savvy, career-minded character like Estes, and it’s something that will need to be explained later in the series.
Finally, there is a background of chaotic world events, ripped right from the headlines, that hovers over the series like a black storm cloud. The writers use possible near-future conﬂict (in the season premiere, Israel has just bombed several Iranian nuclear facilities, enraging the Middle East) to create an aura of simmering tension and urgency. There are no cheap spy-movie clichés here. The writers of Homeland never seem to take the easy way out, preferring instead to blend creativity and plausibility into a unique and addictive storyline.