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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – ‘Homeland’

Kate Rice


Disturbing. Unsettling. Ominous. Tense. These are some of the closed-caption background music descriptions that flash onscreen during any given episode of Homeland. And from the chaotic opening credits through the last note of the show, these are the feelings that Homeland delivers. 

Homeland is a complex political espionage drama that’s often difficult to follow and I love it. It’s kind of like eating kale or spinach because you actually enjoy it. Some of its 8 seasons are definitely better than others — but still, each one sucked me in to the point that I’d record every episode before watching because I was too impatient to wait. Good news for you? You don’t have to wait because the show wrapped up in the spring of 2020. 

Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison, a brilliant CIA officer who also suffers from Bipolar Disorder. If you’re thinking that combo sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, you’re right. But man, it’s a fantastic disaster. 

Season one finds our heroine (if you can call her that; her resourcefulness knows NO boundaries) convinced that U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis) has been turned by al-Qaeda during his captivity. What follows is a game of cat and mouse that had me holding my breath, swearing, and feeling exhausted in the best of ways after each episode. Is he a sleeper agent or isn’t he? What’s that vibe between Carrie and Brody? Carrie did what to get the info she needs? Holy —!

Add Mandy Patinkin’s Saul Berenson (a seasoned intelligence officer and Carrie’s friend/mentor) into the mix and you get the sharp sting of love, loyalty and betrayal throughout the entire series. If you prefer your main characters heroic in the traditional sense, this show might not work for you. But, as Saul states toward the end of the last season, Carrie “never loses sight of what’s important.” Translation? Rarely do the needs of the few outweigh the end goal — no matter what the cost. 

Homeland entertained me, agitated me, frustrated me — but you know what? It never bored me. I recently finished the series finale and although it wasn’t a typical “happily ever after,” it was one of the most satisfying finales that I’ve ever watched. 

Watch all eight seasons of Homeland on Showtime on Demand or Hulu, or rent or buy it digitally on DVD/Blu-ray through places like Amazon.