martes, 2 de octubre de 2012

The Smile: Homeland Season 2 premiere

(Although I tried to refrain from spoilers, the review might include some light ones.)

Homeland debuted its sophomore season last night with an episode titled simply "The Smile". The premiere takes place several months after the first season, which left Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) still alive, loose, and set for political stardom while Carrie Mathison's (Claire Danes) life was in shambles. Carrie had been unable to prove Brody's connection to terrorist Abu Nazir and, after a severe mental breakdown, was institutionalized and set for electroshock therapy. Brody, on the other hand, was persuaded from his terrorist attack against Vice-president Walden (Jamey Sheridan) by his daughter Dana, albeit unknowingly to her. After that, he persuaded his boss Abu Nazir that he could serve his purpose better with his political position.

Season 2 finds both Carrie and Brody in very different positions, but facing similar decisions. Brody is already serving as Congressman and is about to be selected as Walden's running mate for the next election, when he is approached by an ally of Abu Nazir to retrieve some classified information about potential targets in the US. Meanwhile, Carrie is recovering from her breakdown along her sister and father, while working as an English teacher when she is thrown into the loop again to contact one of her former assets in Lebanon that might have information about a future attack. Both characters are reluctant to accept their missions at first. Carrie still holds a grudge against the agency after the way she was treated upon her dismissal, while Brody doesn't want to be complicit in the death of innocent people. Still, both comply when they are presented with a chance to right some wrongs from the past. Brody has the chance to avenge Issa's death, while Carrie has the chance to redeem herself.

The episode was pretty good. It had some worthy moments. Nazir's request of Brody (to snatch a folder from a safe) seemed too simple for his reach, but perhaps it was a way to test him first. Plus, the scene where he does it is pretty tense. A scene I really liked was the one at Dana's school, mostly because I know that a lot of people have the same closed-minded point of view of Dana's schoolmates. The generalizations, the broad blanket statements, talking without really knowing or understanding anything; that's the kind of things that lead to the problems that our society has right now. I also liked her final scene with Brody, and I can already see where this is leading with her. We'll see.

As for Carrie, I liked how we see the anger eating at her once her past colleagues start contacting her. And from the first time Galvez contacts her at her new job, you see that sort of crazy anger in her eyes that we saw in the last episode of the first season. She seems to accept what the CIA asks of her, reluctantly. When she is about to meet her mentor, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), she is chased by a Lebanese policeman. In trying to lose him, she runs through the streets and alleys, and her smile, the one that lends the episode its title, tells so much. In a way, it's the smile that shows how much she wanted this again, but it's also the kind of psychotic smile that reminds us of the Carrie we last saw in the first season. Regarding the performance, it's stellar work. Claire Danes continues the great work she began in last season. I have to admit, I never thought this girl had it in her.

So, to sum it all up, the episode was a pretty good premiere with some great acting and a nice set-up for the season. All of the cast was in top shape, and I can't wait to see what's next. Grade: A-

(All pictures belong to Showtime and its affiliates)

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