The opening scene of season six of Homeland was beautiful. The reason? It instantly took me back to those early days of season one. Nothing can beat this drama’s premier outing. Thrilling, gripping, high on emotion; it’s come incredibly close to recapturing some of its early brilliance, but up until now it has never quite managed to do so. It is, of course, too early to tell whether season six will be as satisfying. The signs are promising however, not least because that immersive jazz soundtrack which defined much of Homeland‘s initial run oozed out of my television’s speakers during that opening scene. To have it played against a lingering close-up of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), Homeland’s chief protagonist, only added extra depth to this first couple of minutes. The shots which followed created a moody atmosphere. You could sense the past impacting on the future. This is Carrie in a new place, with a new life, yet she is clearly shaped by all that has gone before her.
The new place she now occupies is Brooklyn, New York. After a stint in Europe, it appears Homeland is returning home to America, and not before time too. The show’s wayward trajectory since season three in particular appears to be coming to an end. It’s a return to basics for Alex Gansa (the show’s creator) and his team. And on this showing, it is to be welcomed. Not that the events of previous seasons are being forgotten however. This is no more true than in the case of Peter Quinn, Carrie’s former right-hand man at the CIA. It is heart-wrenching and quite distressing at times to see him, off the back of his horrendous ordeal in season five, so vulnerable and weak, barely able to hold himself up. Rupert Friend is superb in the role, capturing Quinn’s helplessness in such a way that is so antithetical to his character’s previous force and physicality.
The show also retains its ability to keep its finger on the pulse of real-life events. We also witness, during the opening few minutes, news reporters standing in front of cameras talking eagerly of the forthcoming Inauguration of the President-Elect. They may not have got the gender right – here, it’s “Madame” President-Elect – but in terms of characterisation, Gansa recently reported that she will be “part Trump” at least. It remains to be seen, but the treatment of newcomer Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree) revealed a more hard-line approach to national security, in keeping with Trump’s zero-tolerance views on Muslims that he expressed during his Presidential campaign. Thankfully for Bah, it appears he has Carrie in his corner, who is now working as an advocate for Muslim Americans with a Brooklyn-based charity. She certainly has strong criticisms of this new tougher regime.
So it’s early days but (whisper it) I have high hopes for this season. Let’s see if they turn out to be satisfyingly fulfilled.
Featured Image (C) IMDB