Get ready for another stellar season of Homeland, says Grazia TV columnist Paul Flynn...
We find our heroine, Carrie Mathieson, on her knees tending the vegetable patch in her sister’s suburban front garden in the opening scenes of Emmy-guzzling US espionage thriller Homeland. The contrast from the last time we saw her, going the full Bell Jar with cattle paddles in a starkly lit hospital unit, couldn’t be spelt out plainer. When she’s implored to return to the CIA for one job only (yeah, right) she says ‘but Thursdays are the days I make vegetarian lasagne for my family’. Do we buy this cute new domestic goddess routine? Not so much.
There is a brilliant, elliptical torment in the eyes of Claire Danes that she brings to Mathieson, quite apart from her bipolarity, her insane patriotism and her even stranger love of jazz. Though Homeland’s won plaudits for being to the Obama age what 24 was to the post-9/11 Bush administration, there is something dependably old-fashioned and wildly predictable, even Daily Mail-ish about Carrie’s central dilemma of squaring the work/life balance.
Offsetting all this is the returning war hero/villain, Nicholas Brody and his cookie cutter family. Brody is now a Senate Congressman and about to run for office on the Vice Presidential ticket, taking all his demons with him. The ease of his political ascent is itself an accidental metaphor for season 2, which delivers plot points with a luminous Sharpie where S1 favoured the delicacy of a fountain pen.
Still, this is drama of a superior stripe. The real curiosity and star of episode one, without giving anything away, is not Brody or Carrie but his sulky, complicated teenage daughter, Dana. Who saw that coming?
Homeland starts on Channel 4 on Sunday 7 October at 9pm.