By Brent Glass
There has been much to say about television in the past decade. It has been dubbed The Golden Age of Television with little rebuttal, and some relatively recent shows have been quickly adopted into the elite status. Some of the previously alluded-to shows pan out (Mad Men) while others show promise and then dwindle (Dexter). A show now in its third season that’s in the make-it-or-break-it-stage is Homeland.
The acclaimed Showtime series exploded onto the scene a little over two years ago to rave reviews by critics and everyday viewers alike. My obsession came a little later; it was nearly a year ago, around Christmastime. I was (am) always looking for the next big thing to change my pop culture world. I decided Homeland deserved a shot. Unsurprisingly, the show grabbed me by the shirt-collar and pulled me in nice and close. I didn’t have a subscription to Showtime so I resorted to using the shady streaming sites that freely offer beautiful women for dates. I powered through slow loading times and finished the first season. I’m certain it was one of the best seasons of television I have ever seen.
Without giving away much, Homeland’s first season was a cat-and-mouse game between bipolar CIA-operative, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and the traitorous Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). A prisoner-of-war for eight years, Brody was returned to America a hero. Carrie, based on intelligence acquired on location earlier in her career, was the only person in the CIA (and America) that suspected Brody had been turned into an Islamist terrorist. Brody, thrust into the limelight, turned his recognition into a successful run for Congress, thus placing a terrorist in the lawmaking body of the country he is out to destroy. Needless to say, it was an exhilarating season complete with plenty of plausible “what-ifs” and titillating “they just did what!?-s.” Danes and Lewis certainly brought their A-game, both being nominated for Emmys. Feeding my gluttonous media binge, I moved right along to the second season.
There wasn’t much time for the anticipation to build between season one and two for me; I watched them seamlessly. However, I had this looming feeling (for the ten minutes between seasons) that the second installment would not be as good. Six episodes later that feeling was squashed. The writers of Homeland masterfully adjusted, resolving the major question of the first season and creating a new enigma for the next twelve episodes. About the time I completely kicked my “looming feeling” it returned in full force. The last few episodes seemed to ditch the aforementioned “plausible ‘what-ifs’” and instead created the most improbable situations imaginable. I believe they shot themselves in the foot with the last episode of the second season.
Even those who have not watched Homeland an iota probably know (as long as they’re tuned into pop culture) that Nichloas Brody is still alive in the show. Stupid. Understandably, Homeland’s staff wanted to keep award-winning Damian Lewis around, but they should have let him go for the good of the show. In order to keep the plot plausible (and not incredibly ridiculous) the writers should have killed Nicholas Brody. Sometimes characters need to die. George R. R. Martin, the author of A Game of Thrones, is definitely no novice when it comes to knowing when to let a character go; Homeland needs to learn.
Thus far the third season has been weird. Carrie and Brody have two distant storylines that are loosely connected. Worse yet, however, is how little their storylines are progressing. After watching the first three episodes of this season I can’t really think of anything memorable Carrie has done. It’s getting old. Brody had a semi-exciting plot last episode but it was so random and isolated that it didn’t click. Lastly, there are the residual familial problems of those Brody left behind which, in my mind, have become stale.
Last night the fourth episode aired and it was not a confidence booster. However, I do believe there is a chance the writers could turn it around; television shows, unlike movies, are a lot more forgiving in that way. I will definitely finish this season. If, for some reason, the writers do not catch-on and Homeland fails to adapt, it may be enough to make me permanently turn Homeland off. For those of you who have not watched Homeland yet, do not let this deter you! It was a great show and still could be.
Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working as a freelance writer for Sagamore Institute, creating a social media management business (Connect You Consulting) and working full-time as a Management Assistant to the owner of a car dealership. He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 in either economics, public policy, political science or business.