Homeland Recap: Returning to a Higher Calling

Is there any doubt Homeland deserved all those Emmys after its riveting second season premiere?

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After much anticipation and a slew of Emmys, Showtime's Homeland returned for its second season. Greg Otto and Tierney Sneed discussed their reaction to the premiere, and what they're hoping to see with the rest of the season.

Tierney: So what did you think of the first episode? It certainly wasn't "slow," but I felt it had sort of a "Let's catch everyone up and lay the foundation for Season 2" feel to it. It did have some, heart-beating, sweaty-palms moments: particularly when Brody stole the target sites from Estes, and Carrie evaded her tail in Beirut. As some critics have pointed out, Season 1 could have ended with a big bang (literally) had Brody gone through with his suicide bomb and Carrie redeemed for her Brody-obsession.

Instead, it ended much more ambiguously, with Brody backing down from the terrorist plot, trying to justify its failure by telling its mastermind Abu Nazir that he would "influence policy" from the inside (ha!), and Carrie succumbing to her fears that her erratic mental state has gotten the best of her. "The Smile" seemed to start at the point of ambiguity, but gained momentum as each of those characters decided to run in more a deliberate direction, with Carrie embracing her new CIA gig, and Brody deciding to break into the safe. How did this episode's arc feel to you?

Greg: I loved that we were off and running in the season debut. I noticed some striking similarities between the construct of 24 (EPs Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa used to work on the Fox hit) and Homeland. Carrie seems to have settled into a normal (or as normal as it can get for Carrie) life and is summoned back into her past by her higher calling. It used to be the same thing for Jack Bauer: Jack was off raising his family the best he could, but bad people were going to do bad things unless Jack stepped back into the fray. The country needed Jack then, just like we need Carrie now.

And the sly groin kick to escape at the end? A complete homage to Bauer. It made me sentimental for the days when Jack would break terrorist necks with his legs.

Tierney: There was so much parallelism between Carrie and Brody: in both climatic scenes I described above (Carrie in the Beirut market, Brody in Estes's office), but also earlier when both were approached to abandon their seemingly "normal" lives and get back to the business started in Season 1. Carrie is approached by Estes and Co. to debrief an old agent who says she'll only talk to Carrie, and Brody by the Nazir-tied journalist Roya to steal the targets. We aren't sure how happy Carrie and Brody are tending gardens and adhering to political allegiances, and how willing they are to get back on the paths that nearly destroyed them in Season 1. They both even have a similar line in these conversations, something along the lines of "I didn't say yes yet" before ultimately saying yes.

What do you think of the parallels between Carrie and Brody? How much are they alike? How much are they different?

Greg: I think the characters have to know they are alike, otherwise they never would have hopped in the sack. Both are loyal to a fault, extremely talented at their work, and both have been (somewhat) successful in hiding their own deep secrets.

But you could make the argument that its purely subconscious at this point (which is kind of a weird thing to say, given they are fictional characters), because Carrie doesn't know that she's dead on about Brody. Their behaviors strike such a similar chord, that even without previews, it would be hard to imagine they would never cross paths again.

Speaking of hiding past secrets, I was floored when Brody's daughter Dana dropped the bomb about her dad's religion to her fellow classmates. Double floored when Brody admitted everything to his family! I am fascinated to find out how this plays out, given how Islam is such an incendiary subject in America. I was also amazed to see that Brody's wife had developed a sense of political consciousness: "I married a U.S. Marine! This can't happen!" Seriously? If she only knew.