Homeland, the critically acclaimed Showtime drama, returned for its fourth season on Sunday, October 5 amid much criticism and curious optimism. The series, which was a smash hit in its first season and so highly regarded, has suffered many setbacks and pitfalls over the preceding two seasons. During the third season, many viewers and critics were left wondering whether it was time to deport the faltering spy drama or if it was still worthy of a reprieve.
It was a good thing that Showtime gave Homeland a two-hour season premiere on Sunday, if maybe not for the reason the network intended. Scheduling two episodes in a row was probably meant to make the series’ return and subsequent relaunch, in the wake of the death of Nicholas Brody in the Season 3 finale, a programming event.
After three seasons dominated by the intense psychological and romantic entanglement between CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and the now departed POW/terrorist/congressman/enemy of the state Brody (Damian Lewis), Brody is now deceased and Carrie is starting over. However, as Homeland fans are well aware, Brody may be gone from the human plane of existence, but his departures are not clean and always leave chaos in their wake.
A perfect example of such Brody-related repercussions that have many fans and critics wondering if it is time to deport the spy drama, or whether it is worthy of a reprieve is the introduction of the Mathison-Brody love child, a daughter named Franny. The audience was made well aware of Carrie’s condition during Season 3, and Brody was informed just prior to his execution. However, at the end of the third season, Carrie’s pregnancy was left open-ended. There was no clear resolution provided, however, given Brody’s grisly fate and Carrie’s father’s (the recently departed James Rebhorn) offer to raise the child if she left to take the job offer overseas, it did seem unlikely she would give away or abort the child.
However, one thing the new season of Homeland made clear, which was suspected to be the case all along, is that Carrie Mathison is not mommy material. In fact, she might be more Mommie Dearest than Mother of the Year, but Frannie is still young and Carrie could still turn things around if she is so inclined. However, that likelihood does not seem very realistic. Carrie has always been very career-focused and has a one-track mind, which has made her very successful as a CIA analyst. Motherhood was clearly never part of her plans and given her frequent inability to care for herself, as well as her erratic mental state, that was probably for the best. Moreover, young Franny serves as a lasting reminder of Carrie’s relationship with Brody, which obviously elicits mixed feelings from Carrie. The child bears a startling resemblance to her father and Carrie’s involvement with Brody was always mired in tragedy and disaster on so many levels.
In the new season, Carrie has taken the new posting and is now running the CIA station in Kabul. She also has a new boss, former Sen. Andrew Lockhart, who is portrayed by Tracy Letts. Meanwhile, her longtime mentor Saul Berenson, who is played by Mandy Patinkin, has left the CIA to work in the much more profitable private sector. However, Saul has discovered that the private sector lacks the excitement and synergy that he was accustomed to during his tenure with the CIA and he yearns to be back in the loop.
Another familiar character from season 3 of Homeland is also featured prominently in the fourth season. Peter Quinn, who is portrayed by Rupert Friend, steps into the de facto lead male role, following Brody’s demise. He has joined Carrie in her new post in Kabul, but he is plagued by inner demons and feelings of self-doubt. Could the show runners have a plan to draw Carrie and Quinn together in more ways than one? That remains to be seen, but the notion has possibilities.
Despite its early success, Homeland has many viewers and critics alike wondering whether it was time to deport the faltering spy drama or if it was still worthy of a reprieve. Given Homeland‘s fourth season premiere, which aired Sunday, October 5 on Showtime, the jury is still out. The drama has recovered some of its early edge and glory, but there are many potential pitfalls that could impede its comeback. Viewers and critics will have to draw their own conclusions about whether the once intriguing and engaging spy drama should be deported or is worthy of a reprieve. The fourth season of Homeland is now underway and airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST, only on Showtime.
Opinion By Leigh Haugh