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Homeland Season Premiere Review: Locations, Locations, Locations

by at . Comments

Between the critical acclaim, its abundance of fans and one of the most impressive nights at the Emmys ever*, Homeland is coming off of one of the best seasons in television history. That's a lot to live up to.

"The Smile" did an astounding job, not only at returning with the excitement, suspense and heart we were used to from last fall, but also at sidelining some of my worries that the idea of season one was so good that the writers might not be able to re-imagine the magic a second time around.

* Homeland was the first show since Cagney & Lacey in 1985 to win four out the big five drama awards (Garnering series, actor, actress and writing, but failing to earn directing honors). There have been a lot of great series over the last 25 years or so that failed to accomplish what Homeland did at last Sunday's Emmys.

Homeland Season 2 Premiere Pic

The season premiere wasn't in-your-face impressive in the way most pilots have to be in order to grab our attentions. Rather, it dropped us back into this world with characters that we grew to know, love and/or hate last season. Most of them were in new situations, but because all of them were strongly written and acted, everything felt very familiar.

Due to her condition, Carrie seemed to be somewhere in between the ace CIA agent she was to start the first season, and the crazy, fired,and locked-up agent she was by the end of the year.

One of the questions I had for the future of this program was "how will they keep Carrie involved after everything that went down at the end of last season?" The answer - she has made so many great contacts and relationships on the job over the years that the CIA will need to use her at length before anyone realizes she was right about Brody - was more than acceptable.

Moreover, I will never tire of watching Claire Danes at work. Whether it be freaking out over the very thought of returning to the field, having trouble remembering her cover because she's been out of the game and/or the electric shock therapy, or stepping up to the plate and knocking out her tail with that disguise and mirror trick, Danes plays Carrie Mathison with such complexity it is hard to not be on the edge of your seat.

Speaking of edge-sitting, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Damian Lewis is back! Not to be outdone by Danes at the Emmys, or on the screen, Lewis was admirable yet again in the return of Homeland. His ability to portray a man who continues to commit acts most of us would never dream of, and yet still have us rooting for him to succeed, is beyond commendable.

Why I was silently cheering for Brody to get those locations out of Estes' safe, and clean up the desk before getting caught is beyond me...but I was. Further, the direction in a scene like that should not go unnoticed. They took such a simple thing, and turned it into the most important moment of our lives as we waited for that door to open and for our man Brody to be caught red-handed.

Lost in the shuffle of all the excitement should not be the fact that Brody is still very much involved with Nazir. His deep seeded love for Issa is a crucial factor in that, and Nazir is using that to his advantage. That, combined with his new religious beliefs, make everything that much more complicated when he screams honestly, "I am not a terrorist!"

I love that he admitted his religious beliefs to Jessica after Dana blurted them out at school. A worse show would have dragged that family secret out for seasons upon seasons, but it seems Homeland has figured out a good sense of pacing. His truths need to come out so that his bigger secrets can stay dormant.

And as great as everything Danes and Lewis did in this season premiere was, my favorite part might have been the difference between Jessica and Dana's reactions to the Qur'an business. Yeah, I know Dana has known about it for a while, but still, seeing her help her father bury the book in the back yard was pretty powerful stuff.

Jessica throwing a fit was equally as haunting, especially when she started mentioning Carrie. I hope she continues putting some pieces together. That might be a nice little story line for Morena Baccarin this season.

"The Smile" was very satisfying, both as an episode in and of itself, and as the beginning of a season. It is already a season of promise. Coming off of the tremendous first year Homeland enjoyed, that's saying something.

What did you all think of the premiere of Homeland's second season?  What was your favorite moment?  Are you excited to have these characters back in your lives?  And is Brody actually going to end up as Vice President of the United States?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (97 Votes)

Dan Forcella is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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@ superman: his cell phone was impounded at the entrance of the building.

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When he's in that office to open the safe, there are two major stupid things: 1. He should have memorized the combination. Having the numbers on his person was a huge risk should he have been caught or halfway caught. 2. Why on earth wasn't he just snapping a pic with his cell phone instead of using all that time writing down the codes in the notebook? I know.. It wouldn't have been the same suspense but still it was stupid. Still a great show with outstanding acting tho.

Tvgarth

Claire Danes is a walking, talking tour de force of superior acting that is riveting by any standards. Homeland is so "on point" that its mere existence puts fear and suspense on our TV screens like no other show. And like no other show, I am panting for the next installment. Homeland alone is reason enough to carry Showtime on your cable lineup, but I might also add that Weeds, Nurse Jackie and Web Therapy are also strong contenders. It's nice to see Showtime (finally) stealing a page from HBO and shelling out the time, effort and money to create outstanding and compelling television. ONLY the cable channels are fee to show REAL people in real life situations, acting just like people do, and that includes their language. Thank goodness there are no "CENSORS" standing behind the production of truly excellent television..and hey-if anyone is offended, just turn it off. That SHOULD be the case on Network television, but no, they are still answering to a strict and ridiculous set of standards seldom practiced by "most" people on this planet. So, congratulations to Showtime and all the cast, crew and writers for Homeland! It's a truly excellent, realistic and suspenseful drama that represents television entertainment at its best!

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I was hoping the death of Tom Walker would come up in some way - other than Brody mentioning it to the reporter. I had guessed that Tom Walker had the flash drive on him when he died, the flash drive Brody had left in the rock wall to be discovered after igniting the vest and I imagined that Brody would have some explaining to do. But it seems like the discovery of Walker's body was never addressed - or did I completely miss something?

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I like homeland. And it's great that it's still going on, but some things need to be worked out.
Like "Abu Nazir" in Arabic means "Nazir's father". It's a nickname a man gets when he has a son. And while I accept that Abu Nazir's son's name is not actually Nazir but Issa, they should at least stop calling him "Nazir" every now and then.
Not to mention that (at least in the first episode) they portrayed Beirut like an inhabited desert. It feels like they needed to replace Iraq with another Arab country to shake things up so they ended up portraying Lebanon and Iraq the same way. But at least they got the money bills and the car plates right. :)

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My guess ... or maybe my hope ... is that Nazir pushes Brody to commit an act that he is unwilling to perform. And he is forced to seek out Carrie's help to protect himself and his country. Maybe without the help of the CIA, maybe with the agency's help.

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Enkeli, I like your comment, and I think the title of the episode IS referring to Carrie's smile after she threw away the cell phone from Saul. While each of the other characters may have smiled during the episode (and I'm not sure if they did; I'd have to watch it again), Carrie's was the only one that chilled me. When I saw the title, "The Smile," I immediately flashed to Carrie's face after her escape: terror morphing into elation.

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Very, very good episode. Loved it. I agree: Idon't know why, but I couldn't help but root for Brody when he was getting the file; I shouted at the screen "Hurry!!" and "God!". LOL hadn't been gripped like that by a TV show for a veeeeeery long time. Still, I agree with Bill. I'd prefer if Brody didn't voluntarily give the info away. If it was stolen I wouldn't mind that much, it would be something for the CIA team to stop; and then suspicion might fall on Brody, even if only a little..
Anyway, good! XD
I have a theory -maybe it's very obvious but i'm not sure so for me it's a theory- that the episode is called the smile because of Carrie's smile when she felt the rush of being an excellent agent again (after she escapes, etc). So, is it obvious? I'm not sure.. I would love it if it made reference to meaningful smiles from both main characters but I didn't catch any from Brody (and I was looking for one too). Did any of you see one?

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It will be hard for it to match it's incredible first season, but nevertheless it was still a great watch

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If Brody goes ahead and gives the information he took from the safe to Abu Nazir's terrorist group, and it leads to thousands of innocent Americans being killed, I think it will completely change the dynamic of Homeland. Brody will no longer beviewed as the hero or even anti-hero who fans don't want to see get caught. He will become just another terrorist, no different than those who crashed the planes on 911. It will be interesting to see if TPTB choose to go in that direction. IMO, I don't think it would be in the best interests of the show to do so.