Critical Condition: Homeland

Homeland (SoHo, 8.30 Mondays)

“Entering season 6, Homeland faces the challenge of age. More than ever, it needs annual, rejuvenating shots of ripped-from-the-headlines zeitgeist. It’s ironic, then, that the new season’s first two episodes demonstrate the risky business of writing to the future. ‘A new paradigm’ is a thematic buzz phrase, with characters and their society chasing or adjusting to new realities. But their flux doesn’t quite speak to our own. It’s a case of so close yet so far away in terms of relevancy, and the misses distract and frustrate investment.” — Entertainment Weekly.

“The season is set during a presidential transition, with a president-elect whose relationship to intelligence agencies is dicey. Not even the most prescient of shows can see the future perfectly, though. The fictional incipient president is a woman, and her politics appear to be dovish … Those details put quite a distance between Homeland and the reality of the real president-elect, Donald J. Trump. But it’s not gender or foreign-policy views that make the show feel out of tune with the times. It’s the courtesy the characters exhibit as they argue and negotiate, their automatic respect for the traditional processes of government.” — New York Times.

“The sixth season of Homeland, at least through two episodes sent to critics, appears to be shifting its focus entirely away from sensationalistic bombing-of-the-week cliffhangers, seemingly leaving the 24 trappings behind to do a riff on HBO’s The Night Of. Just because these first two episodes are going for something slower and ostensibly more thoughtful doesn’t mean it won’t be back on 24 terrain by midseason, and that probably wouldn’t hurt, because these early episodes aren’t really what Homeland does best.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

“In the unlikely event anybody has, within the first five minutes, not grasped the re-education mission of the series’ new season, the writers once given to obliqueness in the interest of mystery and style have Carrie hammering the messaging home … The overwhelming sense of a work drained of vitality — of a series once rich in suspense of the most brilliantly imagined kind, especially in the past two seasons, now flattened, on the evidence of the first episodes, to a deadly predictability, all of it the inevitable result of works dedicated to sermonising.” — Wall Street Journal.

“The sixth season is set during a postelection period that may have sent the show’s writers scrambling into rewrite mode when Donald Trump won the presidency in our universe. In Homeland-world, the new president-elect is a woman — played by House of Cards Elizabeth Marvel. She talks tough and comes on like a maverick. One character says, ‘Her ideas are naive and dangerous.’ In other words, a little Trump dog-whistling is being done for the Homeland faithful.” — Yahoo TV.

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