Homeland, Season 2 (Showtime, 2012).
***SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1***
After the events of the Season 1 finale, Carrie has retired from her position as a CIA agent and is at home taking care of her mental health, while Brody is launching a successful career as a Congressman, eventually planning to run for office as Vice President alongside Walden. Everything changes when one of Carrie’s former assets insists that she has some information she will only share with the discharged agent. Meanwhile, Abu Nazir coerces Brody into using his position as a Congressman for further terrorist action, and introduces him to a new contact: journalist Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson).
As a comment on real-life politics and current affairs, we have to admit Homeland is rather poor. While Season 1 tried somehow to escape clichés about the Arab world, it has totally dropped that approach by now. Homeland’s universe presents no shades of grey: we are the good guys and anything is justified to stop the bad guys, who are completely wrong and want to destroy our lifestyle. The morality of Homeland Security’s methods is never questioned, only whether they’re going to be effective against the enemy or not. The Other, in this case incarnated in the Arab world, is not given two glances and is only used as a strawman, as a much needed enemy with no traits.
But if you look at it in a vacuum, Homeland’s treatment of psychology and strategy is brilliant. Brody is besieged on all sides: he needs to keep making difficult choices, protecting his previous ones with layers upon layers of lies. We can really feel his pain: not only his family’s safety is at stake, but also his humanity and his moral integrity. Carrie is developed as a great connoiseur of the human mind: she knows just what to say to break the person in front of her. She knows how to seduce, convince, expose herself, how to use her every asset in and out of the professional area.
The mortal dance between Nazir and the CIA is exhilarating to watch: there is continuous deceiving, bluffing and second-guessing. Since the viewer is positioned with the CIA, we know what they know and we are led along the way with them in a lot of tension. Have they really won? Have they really outsmarted Abu Nazir? Or does he still have an ace up his sleeve? Is Brody being honest to us? Or does he have his own agenda?
Recommended for lovers of thrillers, spy flicks and strategists everywhere.