Thursday 21 November 2019

Homeland - 5 things we learned from first episode of new season

Homeland Season 5 premiere picks up two years after Embassy attack in Islamisbad. Claire Danes stars as Carrie Matheson
Homeland Season 5 premiere picks up two years after Embassy attack in Islamisbad. Claire Danes stars as Carrie Matheson

Ed Power

Homeland is back – only not quite as we remember it. A series that has looked distinctly patchy across recent seasons has undergone a soft reboot, with Carrie now working for a non-profit in Berlin and the bloody collapse of Syria and the rise of ISIS providing the dramatic focus.

Here are five things we learned from episode one.

1: Carrie Can't Cut It As A Civilian

In picture-postcard Berlin, Carrie (Claire Danes) is trying to live like a normal person. She is in a stable relationship, her daughter is happy (having nearly been drowned by Carrie during a routine pre-bedtime bath last season) and she is a regular mass-goer. But she can't quite leave her espionage days behind and is soon sucked back into an international conspiracy when tasked with smuggling her billionaire boss into a Hezbollah enclave in Lebannon. The game is afoot!

2: It's All Gone A Bit Snowden at the CIA.

One of the big plot points this year is a potentially ruinous data breach at the agency. The culprits are German activists appalled to discover that the CIA has been helping the government in Berlin keep tabs on its citizens. It's a ripped-from-the headlines conceit that promises to make Homeland 5.0 more grounded than somewhat hysterical recent seasons.

3: There Are A Lot of Unfamiliar Faces.

A new rogues gallery is served up for our delectation. Carrie's boss Otto (Sebastian Koch) owes his fortune in part to atrocities committed by his family in World War II. And what are we to make of her boyfriend Jonas (Alexander Fehling) – also employed at Otto's secret Nazi foundation (we have no evidence it is in fact a secret Nazi foundation - but come on!). If it comes to it, where will his loyalties lie? We are also clearly supposed to have mixed feelings about Allison Carr (Miranda Otto), Berlin's CIA chief – visibly not impressed when Carrie calls on her unannounced.

4: Carrie Has Chilled.

Even as she stepped back into a maelstrom of international intrigue, our heroine seemed different. Less eye-rolling and trembly , more buttoned down and determined. We've been encouraged to believe that in the past two years she has pulled her life together and is a changed person. Thus far, Dane's performance, as ever just the right side of overwrought, backs up this assertion.

5: We're Still Not Missing Brody

Two seasons gone and Damian Lewis's absence has done little to cramp the style of Homeland. Indeed, the show seems entirely liberated with Mr MacGuffin out of the way. They probably should have bumped him off at the start of year one after all (as was the original plan).

Read more:  How much longer can Homeland get away with it?

Carry on, Carrie... Homeland returns tonight 

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