Saturday, 11 October 2014

Homeland Season 3

Despite how much TV is the new cinema, I sadly don't watch much of it. I'm  currently watching Game of Thrones, Vikings, Doctor Who, The Strain and Outlander, but I could and should be watching much more. However, near the top of that TV pile of mine is Homeland, an absolute powerhouse of drama. Though it has made some missteps over it's 3 seasons so far, very few TV series can hold my attention much like Homeland (perhaps apart from Game of Thrones). From its absolutely cracking set-up to its complex characters, it really is a series that needs to be seen by more people. With season 4 in full swing in America, season 3 has finally been made available on DVD and Blu-Ray. However, after two strong seasons does season 3 live up to what came before it? 

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray comes Homeland season 3, a season which basically isn't as good as season 1, but much better than season 2. Based upon the Israeli TV series Prisoners of War, Homeland started out focusing on Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine Sergeant who was listed as missing-in-action since 2003. However, Brody eventually turned up safe and well, and much of the plot revolves around if he may very well have been turned by the enemy during his years of captivity. Convinced of this is CIA case officer Carrie Mathison. However, since the early days of season 1 many elements have shifted in the series, and last we saw these two characters- who now might or might not be in love- Brody was blamed for the terrorist attack on the CIA Headquarters, with Carrie and her team being expected to find him. Needless to say, Homeland isn't exactly the kind of series you can just jump into, as a detailed knowledge of both season 1 and season 2 are vital to enjoying this latest season.

Season 3 kicks off where season 2 left off. Brody is still on the run, the CIA are coming to terms with the terrorist attack that hit at the very heart of their operations, and Carrie is being investigated about her possible shortcomings that may have led to the attack itself. It hits the ground running like never before, and compared to the previous seasons, season 3 quite literally has no filler episodes. Largely gone is the brewing romance between Carrie and Brody, and while much of Carrie's motivation for wanting to clear Brody's name is because of love, this season doesn't put much of its focus on it. That's where season 2 almost jumped the shark for me, through its insistence on the Brody/Carrie love story as well as Brody's annoying family plot lines. In season 3 all of this is chucked out in place of great writing, complicated and often shifting alliances and some rather nifty plot twists. Plus, I won't ruin exactly where Brody is since being on the run, but his entire story arc during this season is truly terrific.

The main hook for me when watching Homeland are the performances, namely those of Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin. Danes plays Carrie perfectly in a role that is both fierce and strong, yet incredibly vulnerable and unpredictable, due to her bipolar disorder. Patinkin is great as Saul Berenson, Carrie's mentor at the CIA, and very much a secondary father figure in her life. However, Lewis literally owns this season, as while it does take him a few episodes to turn up, he manages to not only be the focal point of season 3, but also gives the best performance of any actor since season 1. Sure, Homeland has some incredible writing, tense action scenes, great political intrigue and some jaw-dropping twists, but it all hangs upon on whether the cast can carry it. The cast of Homeland are the best, most capable cast on TV right now, and they handle it with ease.

Overall Homeland season 3 is a fantastic continuation of the series, and ends up leading the story towards some pretty unknown and unexpected territory. There are TV shows out there that stick to familiar ground over the years, but with this season Homeland proved that no one is safe, and that sometimes, even at the height of its success, a show can shake everything up for the better.

Homeland season 3 gets a star spangled 5/5.


Denis Murphy

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