It is easy to see why Homeland as a series is an award winning show with over 43 gongs and a plethora of nominations. The Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin vehicle, along with Brit actor Rupert Friend, feels as real as any spy thriller with computer leaks, CIA operatives moving behind the scenes and major issues in the middle east. Classed as a mystery, thriller, the show exudes sense of gravitas with its cast list alone.
Having come late to the Homeland verse, based on nothing more than a reluctance to watch Claire Danes in anything, the lure of Patinkin was finally enough to make watching at least one episode irresistible in the end. The show itself is adapted from the original Israeli series Hatufim and follows Claire Danes’ character Carrie Mathieson, who is a CIA operative.
In the first four seasons, English actor Damian Lewis played Nicholas Brody. Carrie and Brody were the “headliners” and Saul Berenson (Patinkin) rounded out this triangle. Saul recruited Carrie to the organization and is the chief of the Middle East Division of the CIA. Season 5 sees Brody gone, with no visitations from the “other side” since his death in season 3 and Carrie herself is marked for death.
The fourth episode in season five has Peter Quinn (Friend) going through the motions of killing Mathieson after getting her name via a German postal drop from Saul. He spares her life and sets up a way for Carrie to disappear. She does not believe that Saul ordered her death and they set out to find out who did.
By the end of the show it is revealed that if is not Saul, then someone very close to him has ordered her death. A fellow operative Alison Carr (Aussie actress Miranda Otto) answers the phone when Claire rings the number found on a hitman’s cell.
Meanwhile, in keeping with the show’s middle eastern theme and topicality, Saul is trying to replace the existing Syrian leader with a substitute, a general who has taken his daughter out of the country for a kidney transplant. After trying to set the military man up as replacement, the general’s plane explodes as it leaves the medical facility.
The writing of the series is such that one does not need to binge or even head back to the start of season five to get caught up in the action. With the amount of high quality acting, from Patinkin alone there is enough truth in his performance to carry a battleship, the settings (from the cobblestone streets in the German town to the foley artists getting the sound of those floorboards just right) and the dressings, graffiti filled walls and interiors that scream Europe, this show is almost instantly addictive.
One does not have to be a world traveler to appreciate the authenticity of the sets and the actors’ accents and nuances of dialect, for instance the casting of this episode alone was spot on. Utilizing European actors for the roles of Russian baddies and German hackers gave the show the authenticity it is famous for.
This is high drama, if one were to look for a television version of gravitas, Homeland is it. Despite not being a Claire Danes fan, this is breath-taking TV. There is enough subterfuge and nefarious goings on to satisfy any spy or thriller fan.
The episode dealt with other things; greed and corruption were also on the menu as were stupidity and death. The Showtime series has a little something for everyone and for those who have walked the streets of Germany, or Europe, for any length of time, the feeling of the show getting it right is overwhelming.
Homeland airs Sundays on Showtime. Tune in and watch the gravitas.