“Homeland:” Pilot Review

By: Jordan Magrath

Relevancy is often a huge part of the success of a TV show.  Sometimes, this is what hurts Sci-Fy television shows; they just can’t seem to find a place within the cultural niche.  Showtime’s newest show, “Homeland” does a great job of finding a sense of relevancy within a story that could turn out to be spectacularly twisted, and thrilling.

Of the “Pilots” I’ve seen this season, “Homeland” delivered the most punch.  It mixed character introduction pretty well, by also showing some action-packed, dark, and fun flashbacks.  Generally speaking, new shows spend a lot of time at the beginning introducing and developing characters, then doing the same to the story.  In this particular instance, it seemed pretty seamless and most importantly: intriguing.

Overall, the show appears to be about the hunt for a possible military mole in the War on Terror.  The key CIA operations office, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), has found out that there is a P.O.W. that “got turned,” and is working for Al-Qaeda.  There weren’t previously known P.O.W.s until U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was rescued after being held for eight years (holy shit, that’s a long time).

To the public, he appears a giant war hero, but to Mathison, he appears to be a suspect.

Her secret suspicion makes the show as thrilling and enjoyable as it can be.  But really, the reason the show seems so insteresting is because of the two main characters.  Throughout the first two episodes, there are not one, but two, unstable or completely unreadable characters.  Especially Mathison, but also Brody, appear to have some extreme character flaws (and not the bad flaws that ruin the character on screen, but the flaws that we are SUPPOSED to see as an audience).  Mathison is possibly psychotic, and appears to have the whatever-it-takes mentality that could get her in a lot of trouble (kind of like “24’s” Jack Bauer).

Speaking of “24,” I can definitely see aspects of it compared to “Homeland.”  Howard Gordon, one of “24’s” frontrunners, is also developing “Homeland,” and it’s nice to see some crossover for us “24”-junkies.  When talking relevancy, “24’s” questioning of torture and detainment made it a very relevant hit that still resinates today.

The rest of the characters still are left somewhat undeveloped.  Nicholas’ left-behind family was introduced, and his wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin), was sleeping with Nicholas’ best friend Mike (Diego Klattenhoff).  Unfortunately, “Pearl Harbor” ruined this for us, and to be honest, I think it’s a story that was better left out.  Maybe I’ll be surprised, though.  There’s a good reason I’m here writing these things, and not out in the world writing TV shows.

Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is Mathison’s old boss, and he appears to have uncovered her little conspiracy theory, threatening to send her to jail (even despite her pitiful sexual advance).  She eventually convinces him not to (without taking her clothes off), where the creators decided to show us that Brody actually killed his fellow P.O.W., making us assume that he has, in fact, been turned.

From the beginning, I expected him to be involved, and it was shocking to see him guilty from the very first episode.  There was something not quite right, and I’m glad that we know from the beginning.  We won’t have to waste a full season to find out that he was involved.  Instead, we can expect plenty of twists and turns along the way.

The setting will be interesting, and I expect plenty of gritty flashbacks to ensue.  With a beautiful, and psychotic, CIA agent, it makes the onscreen drama even more fun to watch.

This show can go anywhere, and I’m excited I can follow along.

Rating: B+

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