"Homeland," Season 2, Episode 1

Season 2, Episode 1


A subtle pleasure of Showtime’s “Homeland” is its command of espionage shop-talk. When its CIA operatives use phrases like “unconfirmed assets,” it can be refreshing to hear an exciting one-hour drama in which the characters’ jargon doesn’t come from the professions of crime or law enforcement. “Homeland’s” an all-around excellent show that deserves its acclaim and awards, but is refreshing for what it isn’t almost as for what it is. After more than a decade of top-notch shows about male antiheroes and their power dynamics at work and home (“The Sopranos,” “The Shield,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “Boardwalk Empire”), “Homeland’s” female protagonist and concern for geopolitics makes it stand out.

When last we saw Carrie Mathison (played by newly-minted Emmy-winner Claire Danes), she was at possibly the lowest point a TV protagonist had ever been. Her bipolar disorder precipitated a nervous breakdown, but also the realization that former Marine P.O.W. Nick Brody (Damian Lewis) was possibly a sleeper agent working for a terrorist. Carrie was able to (indirectly) dissuade Brody from being a suicide bomber, and for her troubles, she was discredited, arrested, drummed out of the CIA and even forced to apologize to Brody, even though she was right about him all along. (I’m still indignant over that.)

Faith shaken in herself, she checked into a mental hospital and, while on the verge of receiving electro-shock treatments, remembered a tell-tale detail that confirmed Brody’s double identity. Then: BZZZT! Would Carrie remember the clue? And if not, what would Brody do with his new political connections?