Homeland Season 5 Premiere Plot Summary:
The CIA is sent into a frenzy when a hacker easily breaks into their system in Germany and downloads files of a secret U.S./German spy agreement — this sends Saul (Mandy Patinkin), and Quinn (Rupert Friend) to Berlin. Who happens to be in Berlin as well? Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) of course. Carrie is now working on the security team for a humanitarian fund, and is seemingly happy with a new boyfriend, and being a mom. Of course, the arrival of Saul will throw everything into a tizzy.
Let’s get this out of the way — Homeland will never be as good as it was its first two seasons. Frankly, those first two seasons were about as close to perfect television as you can get. The acting, the writing, the direction, the action, the intrigue — it was beyond brilliant. In fact, had the series ended when Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) fled to Canada, Homeland would’ve easily been hailed as one of the best television series of the past decade. It’d be up there with Breaking Bad on a pedestal of television immortality.
While Homeland will never be as good as it once was, the series has done an amazing job of reinventing itself from a series about a former American POW returning home and possibly being a terrorist, to a series that plops its characters into the thick of current global political crisis and weaves a tale within it. We saw this last season, and in the Season 5 premiere ‘Separation Anxiety’ we find Carrie, Saul, Dar (F. Murray Abraham), and Quinn embroiled in the ISIS conflict. The fact the writers can so effortlessly leave the ghost of Brody behind, and deliver a powerful character-driven within real world events is remarkable.
However, this re-racking of the series central focus has come at a cost. Last season, we were left with a bitter taste in our mouths as the final credits for Season 4 rolled. We were given a non-ending to a series-long storyline, and an all too-quick table setting for Season 5. It was weak, and half-hearted, and left viewers feeling hollow. The show would have to do a lot in order to make good on this lackluster ending.
‘Separation Anxiety’ sure seems like the writers and producers are trying to atone for past sins.
The series once again reboots itself, but in a totally logical manner. Carrie has left the CIA (but retains her clearance) to work as a security advisor for the Düring Foundation in Berlin. Saul is now the head of the CIA with Dar Adal as his right hand while Quinn is back out in field killing anything that moves. This reboot is done seamlessly – we’re reminded of the past, but there’s no dwelling. These characters, particularly Carrie have moved on with their lives. It’s refreshing to see the always on the verge of a breakdown Carrie spending time with her daughter. Remember last season’s premiere when Carrie nearly drowned her baby in the tub? Well, we’ve got a complete, and natural 180 here. Carrie actually seems comfortable not being completely bat shit crazy.
This new season also brings in a number of big-time cast additions, and they are all very exciting additions. First, we get one of the finest European actors in the game today, Sebastian Koch as Carrie’s boss, Düring. If you’ve never seen the excellent German film The Lives of Others, (which snagged a Best Foreign Film Oscar) or the WWI drama The Black Book, you owe it to yourselves to do so. Koch is just such a fine, classic scene-stealing actor — it excites me that he’s now a part of the Homeland team. Miranda Otto, one of the more underrated aspects of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is also onboard as a CIA station chief in Berlin. Then there’s Alexander Fehling, most famous for his role as the new father who gets into a shoot-out with Michael Fassbender & Co. in the Inglorious Basterds, as Carrie’s live-in boyfriend. Fehling has the most arduous of tasks as a romantic foil for Danes, who has always been a dominant force in this series. It’ll be interesting to see his chemistry with her, particularly when we go into Crazy Carrie mode.
There are a few chinks in the armor in this season though. First, the character of journalist Laura Sutton (Sarah Sokolovic) is downright annoying. She’s a little too brash, and a little too blunt for a premiere. Her dialogue was too hamfisted, and the direction for the performance didn’t aid the cause here. Also, the advancement of the hacker storyline, which Sutton may be steering the boat on, does not intrigue me one iota.
‘Separation Anxiety’ serves well as an initial table setting for this season, and proved to be much more effective than the last two premieres for this series. However, this show does have a track record of developing some agonizingly pointless plot lines, and getting a little too messy at times. Yet, the season seems to have a bit more promise than previous ones.
Rating: 8 out of 10