In the fifth season of the critically acclaimed Showtime spy-thriller, the team is playing a different game altogether. They’re in a new territory–fighting new enemies. For a series that focused primarily on middle-eastern terror reaching the home front, the shift to a new type of counter-terrorism could have been what Homeland needed to re-vamp itself. But did it need to?
As we come upon the eleventh hour in the season, things having taken a dramatic turn. In the most recent episode, “New Normal,” a threat to Berlin is imminent and the team is taken to extreme lengths to protect both themselves and Germany as a whole. And don’t even get me started about Peter Quinn almost basically dying in front of all of us.
I found that the titular reference to the episode is an interesting metaphor for our current state of society today. In “New Normal,” a terrorist cell operating out of Berlin threatens a massive attack somewhere in Europe. In today’s world, this is the new normal for us. We are constantly being threatened by a plethora of terrorists throughout the world. In Homeland, it is Syrian fighters who plan to release Sarin gas in Berlin. But terrorism can’t be limited to just middle-eastern Islamic groups. It could be, perhaps, that the title doesn’t mean that at all. But, in watching the episode, I can’t help but feel like it’s just another day in the world as a new threat appears.
The truth about this season of Homeland is that they changed the game too much. In the beginning, it was an exciting idea. Carrie Mathison takes Berlin by storm. Fans were excited and the press tore into the pre-release screenings released by Showtime with force. The season started out strong and it was truly a joy to see all of our favorite players–Quinn, Carrie, Saul, Dar, and even Astrid–playing on a different field. But as the season progressed, I became disinterested. The story started to drift into tangents that didn’t make sense and ultimately kept the story from being as impactful.
Now, I will digress that the story did begin to pull itself together–especially with “New Normal”–as most of the other seasons of Homeland do. But throughout the season, I found that the surplus of extra characters was as equally damaging to the season. We have Otto During, Laura Sutton, and Jonas Hollander that had very little to do with the outcome of the story. I understand their importance in the beginning as a way to show what Carrie has been doing since she left the CIA, however their continued presence–and subsequent air time–has altered my thoughts to how this season would play out.
Perhaps it is still too early to make some of these accusations (despite the final two episodes on the horizon). The show still holds some of the core strengths that it has since the very first season. The relationships among the characters are what made this show. The first three seasons wouldn’t have been as effective without the emotional tension between Carrie and Nicholas Brody. And despite Saul and Carrie’s frequent spats, they still seem to keep their relationship intact, five seasons later. I still have hope for the season and I think the creative team behind the show will come through in the last two episodes.
Photos from the next episode, “Our Man In Damascus.”