Homeland Season 6 Premiere Brings Doom and Gloom to New York City

Homeland Season 6 poster cropped

Homeland Season 6 Premiere Plot Summary:

Following the Germany incident, former CIA operative Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes) is living in Brooklyn, and working at a foundation that provides legal aid to Muslims in America. She is also the quasi-guardian of Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) who is still feeling the physical and emotional effects of being exposed to nerve gas. There’s also a new president in town and she may not be who Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham), and Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) want in charge.

A few years ago Homeland was one of the best original dramas on television. Now, it’s become a passable, and predictable hour of television that’s luckily buoyed by strong performances, and the occasional big thrill action sequence.

And let’s be honest, this series should never have lasted past Season Three (which was a rough season to begin with). The whole premise of this show was that an American POW (Nicholas Brody) had returned home after years of imprisonment. The question immediately arose — was he actually a terrorist, or was he still the man he was before he went to war. Terrific performances, perfectly executed plot twists and wrinkles, and an excruciating (but entertaining) atmosphere of suspense surrounded this series. It was awesome. However, the moment Nicholas Brody died, the series should’ve gone with him. Instead, we’ve shifted the series focus to Saul and Carrie, and how they deal with terrorism in different parts of the world for the last couple seasons.

Since Brody’s death show’s formula has gotten terribly repetitive — Carrie and Saul are in a new location which means a frustrating new threat, a new boss who does not agree with Saul and Dar, and Carrie ultimately starts acting like a crazy person when things begin to unravel. The tone is somber and dour. Everyone gets really serious. Things get gloomy. Relationships are ruined. Beloved side characters get viciously killed. And that’s exactly what happens in this first episode (minus side character death). It’s so painfully cookie cutter.

The one wrinkle added into this season is tragic, and disturbing condition of Peter Quinn. The former assassin/operative is now suffering severe physical and mental effects from being exposed to nerve gas, and is now strung out on heroin/opioids. His scenes are tough to watch, and give Rupert Friend credit, he really could’ve gone over the top with this performance, but luckily he reigns it in, and delivers us a tragic, broken performance that’ll rip your heart in two.

The premiere also succeeds is introducing Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), a young Muslim American who posts a series of online videos chronicling domestic terrorism, and the “truth” behind them. Bah’s rhetoric seemingly supports the terroristic actions, but is vague enough not to. So at least we have a little intrigue here. He’s arrested by the FBI, and Carrie and the foundation she works for goes to bat for him. Here’s hoping she doesn’t sleep with him like she did with that young recruit in Season 4. That was ridiculous.

The sixth season premiere of Homeland wasn’t bad. No, it was a solid episode of television. But, that’s where the problem lies. This show used to be great, and even in down seasons it has delivered amazing episodes. However, the road to those amazing moments is paved with a lot of slow moving and/or repetitive storylines. Here’s hoping they can do something here, because if any show has the potential to be great again, it’s Homeland.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Bill Bodkin is the gray bearded owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, he is lucky husband, and proud father to a beautiful daughter named Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites