Homeland Season Five

Homeland S5

As the excellence of the first season and a half of Homeland gets further away and hopes we have of the series righting itself get smaller and smaller. Still, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin are still in the cast, so things could get better, right? Right?

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Homeland Season Four

Homeland S4
Credit: Showtime

Homeland was so good, so great, for its first season and a half that it seemed possible that Showtime was going to threaten HBO as the source for the best dramatic series on premium cable. Then Homeland stopped being great, or often even good, and Game of Thrones started on HBO and even the relative excellence of Masters of Sex is not enough to make Showtime a real rival.

All of this is a long way of saying that it would be good for Showtime if Homeland is able to recapture its excellence. Does that happen in season four?

If you haven’t watched the first three seasons then do so and then go here for the recaps.

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Catch Up on Homeland Season Three

Homeland S3
Credit: Showtime

It’s difficult to think of another show that went from all-timer to also-ran faster than Homeland. Many shows have a good first season, improve in the second and maybe third and then begin a slow decline. Just as there are aging curves for baseball players there are aging curves for TV shows. Homeland, however, started with a great, almost perfect season, an excellent first half of its second season, then fell apart. So what about season three?

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Homeland The Star

Credit: Showtime

Well, it only took an extra season and a half (or possibly two seasons) but the writers of Homeland finally did what needed to be done and killed Nicholas Brody. The most satisfying part for me is that everyone but Carrie seemed to realize that killing Brody was best, including Brody. Sure he would love to believe in the dream of sitting on a beach with Carrie and their daughter, but you will grab anything to stop yourself from falling. There was no future for Brody and I’m glad Homeland finally realized that.

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Homeland Big Man in Tehran

Credit: Showtime

It is my belief that no final episode of a series can change my opinion of everything that came before it, for better or worse. Greatness in television is an accumulation of hundreds (thousands?) of small moments along with a number of big moments that add up to something amazing. It’s important for a show to make the most out of those big moments because those are the ones we remember best, but its all the satisfying smaller moments that predispose us to thinking that what we are watching may be great. A series like Homeland, which did almost everything right in its first season, is a show that finds ways to waste both big and small moments.

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Homeland Good Night

Credit: Showtime

I don’t know if there is any way that Homeland could have lived up to its near perfect first season but “Good Night” makes me think it would have been fine if it focused on various operations hatched by Saul and Carrie. I’m not making a case for the plausibility of Saul’s plan, rather making the case that “Good Night” was a tense, entertaining hour. There weren’t any surprises; we knew the team would run into adversity and we knew that somehow Brody would find a way to finish the mission, but it was still satisfying.

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Homeland One Last Time

Credit: Showtime

My favorite moment of “One Last Time” was when Dana Lazaro asks Brody if he ever asked himself if she would want to see him. If there is one theme running through Homeland as it pertains to Carrie and Brody it is if they ever ask themselves if what is so important to them is good for anyone else. And the Homeland writers should wonder if what is important to Carrie and Brody should be important to us.

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Homeland A Red Wheelbarrow

Credit: Showtime

For crying out loud.

So Saul takes his bag filled with $10 million and ransoms Brody out of his heroin haze and now we know that the second part of Saul’s plan, or at least that in involves Brody. I guess I need to wait to see just how dependent Saul’s plan is on Brody but this feels like a giant shoe-horn is being used to make Brody matter to people other than Carrie.

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Homeland Gerontion

Credit: Showtime

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry and Elaine decide to sleep together again and they develop rules? George is curious to hear the rules because he doesn’t think it can work yet he’s impressed after Jerry tells him the first rule. Unfortunately, the second rule can’t work and George correctly predicts this when Jerry tells it to him. I thought of that with regard to Saul’s plan. I don’t know what the second part is but after the first part was (improbably) successful, I am interested in hearing the second part but skeptical it will (or should) work.

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Homeland Still Positive

Credit: Showtime

So Carrie’s pregnant because of course she’s pregnant. There can never be a questionable choice that Homeland won’t make. Will Carrie’s pregnancy be a factor at some point later in the season? I guess it will be. I guess this means that we will be seeing Brody again at some point, which I consider a mixed blessing. The Carrie pregnancy thing is annoying because it mars what was otherwise a satisfying episode.

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