Truism: Screwed-up Government Operatives Make for Good Drama

The CIA – it’s a mean world populated with passionately righetous and harmfully cold people (at least the HOMELAND version is); the kind of weird/friendly amicable coldness that seduces you into imagining you could have a coffee and a friendly chat with most of the characters in HOMELAND. Then. Out of nowhere. They’d cut you down at the knees if it meant defending their ego or, in any minor way whatsoever, proving their rightness on any given subject. Let’s face it, jerky, screwed-up government operatives make for good drama. HOMELAND nails this.

Unlike THE WALKING DEAD, which gets periodically bogged down in time-wasting nonsense, HOMELAND maintains a dramatic pace; an ebb and flow. I guess what I’m saying is, it’s rarely uninteresting. Here’s more two reasons why:

The show’s primary asset is Claire Daines. She has this great, amorphus ability to dissolve the hindering gauise of objectification (downside of being hot) and play agent Mathison in all her distressed humanity. Perhaps it’s a habit of Ms Daine’s, but her eyes tell the story. Watch them. You’ll sense the crazy (not actual crazy, as Brody, her target, wants everyone to think, but “I’m right and I’m going to prove it” crazy, which is a better crazy, at least for Mathison’s line of work).

HOMELANDS’ secondary asset is Damian Lewis. Sure, Mandy Patinkin’s Saul Berenson is a steady and likeable moral center, but with Lewis’s Brody, we’re constantly reminded that there’s something terribly wrong with the guy. His incessant lying is rather astonishing, always reaching new heights. And with Brody, we can’t escape the idea that his brain has been messed with; this sense of irreperable damage. As much as we want to like Brody, he’s never going to be who he use to be. He’s a hollow shell of his former self. A different sort of walking dead. The kind that’s so phoney it hurts.

A couple notes concerning the Blu-ray presentaion. Firstly, you can watch Season Two in the “Season Viewing” mode. I believe that’s what it’s called. This playback option saved me numerous times from backtracking and figuring out where the hell I’d stopped watching. It’s like having a binge watching assistant. Somehow it even picks up where you left off between discs. Apparently a Blu-ray player can remember these things. (Thank you Season Viewing-mode!) And secondly, I love HOMELAND’s multi-channel surround sound mix. There’s nothing quite like the espoinage environmet, all steeped in audio subtlety.

HOMELAND: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON …it’s twelve episodes to keep binge watchers in their happy place.

Make sure you’re subscribed to The Post-Movie Podcast on iTunes, as Mr Black and I will further discuss HOMELAND: SEASON TWO.

About Stephen Slaughter Head

Stephen Slaughter Head co-founded the much-loved movie news website IGN FilmForce. He has more than 2,000 published articles at IGN.com. His filmmaking interviews, reviews and features have been published at AOL, Script magazine, Esquire magazine and the Boston Phoenix. He is also the host of the Diabolique Webcast at DiaboliqueMagazine.com. You can contact him directly on Twitter at twitter.com/stevehead.