homeland

“How long do think those guys out there are gonna keep watching?”

Yesterday, the final episode of series two of Homeland was aired on Channel 4 in the UK. Those in the U.S. had already had chance to see and digest the ‘explosive’ finale and decide if it gave sufficient cause to look forward to a third series.

As the Showtime saga of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) and Carrie Mathisan (Claire Danes) has progressed, the Fox 21 producers have been dogged by accusations  of implausability and complaints about gaping plot holes.

A few armchair critics dared to say the same about the first series but their dissenting voices were drowned out by the widespread acclaim culminating in a clutch of TV industry Awards.

It has to be accepted that shows like these always have details that are far-fetched or just plain bonkers.

Screenwriter and producer, Alex Gansa, argues that these can be justified in the cause of gripping drama. This after all, is a fiction so viewers shouldn’t expect everything to be realistic or 100% believable.

Inconsistencies tend to be more widely tolerated when the story itself is compelling. The first series worked so well because at its heart was the fascinating cat and mouse game that expertly teased the audience with the question over whether Brody had been turned into a terrorist and, if so, how far.

It was fascinating to watch Carrie as her quest for the truth intensified and her behaviour became more and more reckless. Her frustration was believable so you understood how she could be driven to acts that put her in danger and alienated her from her CIA colleagues.

While in the first series Carrie was a loose canon, in the second she was more like a misguided cruise missile. Her impulsiveness evolved to the point that she constantly put herself into life-threatening situations often based on no more than a wild hunch.

Up to a point you could praise her actions as demonstrations of a finely tuned female intuition but too frequently they defied any sense or logic. The most extreme example was the unarmed pursuit of Homeland’s very own Bin Laden, Abul Nazir, in a dark labyrinthian building.

In short, this character was perfectly summed up by Saul (Mandy Patinkin) in this week’s final episode as  “the smartest and the dumbest person I’ve ever known”.

Had the first series ended with the deaths of Carrie or Brody, the drama would have been heralded as a masterpiece but few programme makers these days have the courage or conviction to take such a bold, franchise-destroying step.

Stretching Homeland out is a classic case of sacrificing hard-hitting drama for the sake of ratings although it must be doing something right as it has kept me watching for 24 episodes and I will almost certainly tune into the third installment.

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