Warning: Spoiler Alert
Joining any series as it’s embarking on it fourth season would be a tough task, choosing a series with the complexities of the Showtime Original Series “Homeland,” at this point might seem near impossible, save for one fact. Season four shuffles the deck and sets up a new storyline after completing what I refer to as the “Trilogy,” in its first three seasons. I perceive the first three seasons of the show set in the world of the CIA and the people, organizations and countries it battles, as season one being the original, season two as the satisfying sequel and season three, while confusing and tedious at times, wrapped up the story nicely.
Before heading to see what lies ahead though you’ll need some knowledge of what took place during those three seasons. So lets break it down season by season:
Season One: After surviving an eight-year stint as a POW in Iraq, United States forces recover Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) in Iraq and a shocked nation hails his return to American soil. Except reality’s far more complicated than that and Brody’s family’s moved on in his absence. His wife Jessica’s (Morena Baccarin) believed that she’s a widow and would never see her husband again, so a few years ago she began an affair with his best friend Mike Faber (Diego Klattenhoff) and were talking marriage. Brody’s got two teenage children and they barely remember him, so there’s definitely an adjustment period for all.
Although most of the country sees Brody as a hero and a candidate for Congress, a brilliant but bipolar CIA operative Carrie Mathison, (Claire Danes) believes the Marine got turned during captivity and works for a terrorist, a theory that gets ridiculed by her superiors. However the agent trusts her gut and pursues the case on her own and things start adding up, making her accusation more credible.
Brody’s in fact working for a well-known power broker in the Middle East Abu Nazir, (Navid Negahban) who befriended him during captivity and left him in charge of protecting his young son, whom Brody strongly bonded with. However, tragedy struck when a CIA bombing attack, destroyed Abu Nazir’s village and killing his son. Nazir used that event, to turn Brody against the CIA and especially its Director William Walden (Jamey Sheridan) now the Vice President of the United States and planning to run as the current President’s term’s in its last year. Abu Nazir engineered Brody getting found and the Marine came back to his country intent on killing William Walden.
Carrie and her boss Saul Berenson, (Mandy Patinkin) debrief Brody and Carrie’s more certain that Brody’s working for the enemy. Berenson thinks she’s heading in the right direction, but won’t back Mathison’s plan to place the Marine under surveillance to CIA director David Estes, (David Harewood) however Carrie does it without permission with the help of a tech friend. The CIA operative starts stalking Brody, following him everywhere and finally finds the perfect place to “accidentally” run into him, in a meeting for people with mental health issues. The former Sergeant notices her and the two start chatting, which eventually results in them having sex in a car in the parking lot.
Although Mathison’s attracted and developing feelings for Brody, she keeps going full-bore on the surveillance. Meanwhile Nick’s developing a bond with Vice President Walden, who actively recruits him to run for Congress. Things aren’t going as smoothly in the Brody home, as Nick and Jess adjustment to life as a couple once again is proving difficult. Then there are the conflicted feelings of his teenage daughter Dana, (Morgan Saylor) who has stronger memories than her younger brother of “life with Daddy,” however Brody’s still a stranger to her. She walks into the garage while Brody’s engaged in an Islamic prayer-session and Nick explains that he became a Muslim during his capture and Dana accepts it without question promising not to tell anyone including her mother.
The affair between Mathison and Brody heats up, but so do her suspicions and doubts that the former Marine’s exactly who he says he is. Berenson believes her case now’s got credibility, but Estes maintains blowing it off, thinking too much of her case’s based on circumstantial evidence. Carrie decides she’s going to prove her case and take down the apparent hero, so she goes off her meds. Not sure what life’s like for people who really deal with bipolar depression, but on Television the standard practice’s to stop taking your meds without confiding in anybody. The reason’s always explained that although the medication controls the mood-swings, these people decide that they’re far sharper non-medicated. But that move always comes with a toll down the road.
Mathison decides to confront her lover about her suspicions, telling that there are members of the CIA who believe he’s spying for someone in the Middle East and she’s one of those people. Needless to say the talk ends badly and possibly at the worst possible time as Brody and Walden will be at the same event in a couple of days and the former Marine’s scheduled to wear a suicide vest and blow himself, Walden and all around them to dust. Carrie gets wind of the situation and contacts Nick’s daughter Dana, telling her she must get her father to promise to come home that night.
A party official’s shot and killed by a sniper, which causes security to gather all the VIPs and put them in one small secure room, the scenario that Brody and his handlers assumed would occur. The former Marine’s already to take his life for the cause, already leaving a video saying goodbye and explaining the steps he took. He’s just about to ignite the vest, when his cellphone rings with Dana on the other end. She tells him she’s got a bad feeling and he needs to promise her, he’ll see her at their house that night. Nick tries to ignore her pleas, but she finally gets to him and he promises he’ll see her soon, thus ending the threat.
Nick finds out Mathison told Dana to make the call, he then talks to Estes and confesses they had an affair, but she’s now stalking him. Carrie gets in hot water with Estes and going so long without her meds, has her scraping near the bottom. She finally agrees to hospitalization and electro-shock therapy, which she’s undergoing when season one ends.
Season Two: Brody’s now a Congressman and one of the fair-haired boys on Capitol Hill. He’s on a very short-list from which Walden and his advisors pick Walden’s running mate in his campaign for President. After the bombing attempt failed, Brody convinced Abu Nazir that controlling the Vice President could end up far more effective than killing him and Brody’s worked hard to enter the inner circle that gives Walden advice.
Carrie, recovered and back on the job, finds out that her instincts were spot-on when the Agency somehow gets a copy of Brody’s suicide video. Estes never apologizes to Mathison or admits he messed up, instead he wants to use Brody as a double-agent to take down Abu Nazir. If he does that and resigns his Congressional seat, the United States will decline to press charges and he’ll be a free man.
Brody and Carrie start heating up again as Nick realizes his marriage to Jessica’s over, she fell in love with Mike while imprisoned and he’d assumed the role of the dad in the family. Brody tries to get Abu Nazir into a situation that will result in his downfall, but the Middle Eastern War Lord figures things out and comes to the United States.
Abu Nazir captures Carrie, but then lets her go, after Brody agrees to kill the Vice President. Walden has a severe heart condition and Brody exacerbates it, takes his meds away and refuses to let the front-runner to become the next President of the United States call 911 and he dies on the carpet of his office. Carrie returns to the warehouse that held her with a SWAT Team, Abu Nazir steps out of the shadows and looks like he’s reaching into his robe and gets gunned down immediately.
With nobody aware of his role in Walden’s death, Brody’s off the hook and a free man. He and Carrie decide to leave the country adopt new identities and start life over again. However, first there’s the memorial service at CIA Headquarters they both need to attend, but they leave early as Estes’ eulogizes his former boss at the Agency.
They head back to Carrie’s office to celebrate and discuss the future when Nick notices, someone moved his SUV from the parking lot to right in front of CIA Headquarters, while they are realizing what’s happened, the vehicle explodes destroying the chapel with all inside. The bombing was Abu Nazir getting revenge from beyond the grave on Brody. Saul, out of the country on Agency business, rushes back to Washington to become acting Director of the CIA.
All the evidence points to Brody, although he wasn’t involved and to make matters worse, the tape of his goodbye speech before sacrificing himself to kill Walden surfaces on TV. Claire and Brody’s plans for a new life together gone, she gets him to the Canadian border and he turns into a fugitive eluding authorities as season two concludes.
Season Three: Congress and the Senate want answers on the bombing of the CIA building and one Senator Andrew Lockhart’s getting lots of face time on the tube. Acting Director Saul Berenson throws the blame on Brody and seemingly throws Mathison under the bus, telling Congressional Committees, broadcast live on national TV that Carrie had an affair with Brody and she’s bipolar and a history of staying off her meds. Mathison gets into a debate one on one with Lockhart, as she addressed his committee and comes out looking bad. Operative Peter Quinn, (Rupert Friend) who joined the team during the second season, can’t understand while this avalanche of manure’s falling on Carrie’s head. She’s even involuntarily hospitalized spending a stint in the psychiatric ward.
Just when this viewer thought that the scenario they presented made no sense, they revealed they planned it that way. In an unusual move the show runners kept the audience in the dark about the plan concocted by Saul and Carrie, to throw the blame elsewhere so the real architect of the attack would act less cautious, making themselves visible enough to get caught. Berenson’s found his man, an old friend in Iran who worked with Saul when the Shah still ruled the country Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub.) Berenson’s investigation uncovers Javadi’s stolen large sums of money from Iran, a deed that would cost his life if the Iranian government found out. So once again Berenson turns an agent, as Javadi’s next in line to become President of his country. Saul plans to get Brody asylum from Iran for blowing up the CIA building, then getting tight with the current President until Brody gets the chance to kill him. Javadi then becomes ruler of Iran and the United States has the friendliest government in that nation since the they overthrew the Shah in 1979.
Brody’s not survived well in his travels as the CIA find him imprisoned in a South American prison turned into a junkie by his captors who filled his veins with Heroin. By the time he got rescued, other Marines believed he was too far gone to recover enough to carry out orders. Brody shocked them all however, getting back into top physical shape, hoping this mission would clear his name.
While this went on the gears were turning in the nation’s capitol, as Andrew Lockhart has surprisingly been named as next Director of the CIA, which could make for a tough transition as Berenson and Lockhart don’t get along. Although maintaining his game face, Saul’s crushed by the decision as he assumed the position was his. But ever the professional the mission comes first and he gives it all his attention.
After some very tense moments and some needless deaths, Brody gets asylum from Iran. The President and the former marine meet which is when Brody’s supposed to kill him, however he doesn’t. For the next few weeks Brody becomes a celebrity in the Middle East as he denounces the United States and Western culture. The powers at the CIA determine that they have to assassinate Brody, however Carrie gets to him first and warns him of his fate. She also tells him she’s carrying his child.
After an attempt on his life goes awry, he meets with the Iranian President and tells him all about the CIA plan and Javadi’s role in the plot and then kills the President. However he’s soon caught and he’s hung in public as a giant crane grabs the noose attached to his next and Brody quickly dies. The upside of the mission’s that relations between the United States and Iran are far improved from what they were before Brody’s mission, as the third season and the trilogy come to an end.
The game resets in Season four, as Saul’s no longer with the Agency moving onto the private sector. Carrie’s now stationed outside of the country as Bureau Chief in Kabul, while her infant daughter remains in the States being cared for by her father and sister. Lockhart’s reign as CIA Director seems rather bumpy from all the preseason rumors, could Saul be coming back this time as a confirmed Director of the Agency?
If you enjoy, intrigue, espionage as well as sharp writing and stellar acting, than Homeland’s a show for you, but be prepared this show’s not escapist TV. The writers seem to have a good handle on events in the Middle East and within the Agency. A critic a few years ago labeled it “the thinking person’s version of 24.” Never having seen the Fox series, I can’t comment on the comparison, but Homeland will keep you thinking.
Homeland Debuts Sunday October 5, at 9:00pm on Showtime.