As a show, Homeland definitely has its ups and downs and its third year was a clear example of that. This season started solidly, then suffered through a weak third episode, was reinvigorated by a stunning middle section, followed by a slight regression before the moving finale. But, like season three, the show’s lows can be pretty low but its highs really high.
At its best, Homeland is a challenging drama that remains bitingly relevant in the post-9/11 world we live in. It asks challenging questions of those in power throughout the Western world, especially with regards to the CIA. But, more importantly, it is open about these questions and includes moments that shine a harsh light upon American’s international affairs.
On the other hand, I can only presume that a degree of artist licence is taken with some of the more action-packed sequences. It’s hard to believe that things are really that dramatic amongst the upper echelons of international crisis management, though I may be wrong. But, even if the drama is actually totally unrealistic, it still makes for some truly nail-biting sequences.
But far more clear-cut is the sheer quality of the production. The direction is well-measured and the hand-held camera work is incredibly effective, while still remaining unobtrusive throughout. Then there are the performances, which are as strong as ever. Damian Lewis (Brody), Clair Danes (Carrie) and Mandy Patinkin (Saul) are all excellent, as are much of the supporting cast. There are a number of weak links, but the characters in question are pretty much kept to the sidelines throughout.
Like the final moments of season 3, Homeland has its wobbles, but that does little to tarnish the shows undeniable power.