Critical Condition: Homeland

“It’s time to embrace both Carrie and Homeland like we did at the start,” IndieWIRE says of the season five premiere (SoHo, 9.20 Monday).

VarietyHomeland returns from its bounce-back fourth season playing the long game, once again almost eerily mirroring headlines while slowly unfolding an espionage plot that, even after three episodes, remains hazy in its contours. … At its best, what Homeland achieves better than most is tapping into not just the apprehensions raised by terrorism — and the sacrifices undertaken by those who combat it — but also the moral and political tradeoffs associated with that struggle.

Homeland begins its fifth season like a drama approaching its endgame. To be clear: Nobody associated with Homeland has said that this upcoming season will be its last, and it’s hard to imagine Showtime cashing out on a hit series that had a renewed burst of critical and awards attention last season. But the three new episodes made available for critics find Homeland in an introspective frame of mind for a season that seems destined to bring Carrie Mathison’s journey full-circle.”

“With its masterfully prescient knack for melding international headlines with implausible tales of espionage, Homeland kicks off with parallel plots involving the Islamic State and a computer-hacking incident … Carrie’s boss is demanding a high-security humanitarian visit to an ISIS trouble spot, and a viewer realises that this updated Homeland runs the same as it always has.”

NYT“The early episodes are written and directed by Homeland veterans, but they have a different rhythm and mood than we’re used to, in keeping with the new locale, the scene of so many chilly, ticktock Cold War thrillers. (The season is not only set but was also filmed in Berlin.) The temperature is lower, the volume is quieter, and there’s an emphasis on subtle le Carré-style spycraft over lethal action. But in larger ways it’s the same show, for better and for worse.”

“[The] third hour takes a couple of holy-crap twists that strongly suggests Homeland really wants this to be the most unpredictable season it can possibly be. It’s not giving anything away to say that Carrie is still struggling with her bipolar disorder, but we’ve never seen it manifest its symptoms in quite this way before. If you thought you were tired of the Carrie on and off her meds storylines, I’ll tell you: So was I. It’s the way third-episode writers Meredith Stiehm and Alex Gansa set up and execute this latest Carrie psychodrama that gives it the import and narrative propulsion that makes it well worth investing in the Mathison Mental Health Project once again.”

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