Homeland Series 2 Episode 1 Preview: ‘The Smile’ includes some spoilers

by Matt D

It’s fair to say that Homeland has been one of the biggest successes on Channel 4 for a long time with the ratings steadily climbing on a weekly basis as everybody was gripped by the story of Claire Danes’ unstable CIA Agent Carrie Matheson and Damian Lewis’ marine Nicholas Brody who may or may not have been a terrorist.

Since the first season ended the show became the big winner at last fortnight’s Emmy Awards picking up three major accolades while it has even been revealed that Barack Obama is a massive fan of the show. To honour loyal British fans of the show Channel 4 is airing Homeland less than a week after it is shown in the USA while it is confident that the ratings will continue to rise despite it going up against the mighty Downton Abbey. Though I won’t spoil any major plot developments in this preview I will talk about some elements of the story so if you want to go into Sunday’s episode completely fresh than stop reading now.

Series Two picks up about six months after the end of the first series and we find Carrie in quite a different mood than we did last time when she was just about to go through that electo-shock treatment. She is now back in the bosom of her family as her sister tries to shield her from the outside world by making her father turn off the news any time she is in the room. Carrie fills her days picking vegetables in the garden and teaching English as a Second Language at a local college. It seems that she doesn’t miss her life in the agency instead concentrating on getting better and living a normal life.

Meanwhile Saul has been sent to Beirut where there is major unrest following the Israeli bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities. Saul is told that an unknown woman wants to talk to the CIA who it later transpires is Fatima Ali the wife of a Hezbollah Commander. Fatima was once being used as an asset by the CIA however she is being unresponsive refusing to divulge any information until she speaks to the agent who first contacted her – Carrie.

As Carrie’s story plays out so does Brody’s who is still a congressman despite being revealed in the first series to be working for Abu Nazir. Brody is approached by Vice President Walden, who is beginning his campaign to become president, and asks the former marine if he would like to be considered as a running mate on the ballot an offer that he gladly accepts. At the same time Jessica is getting used to life as the wife of a politician and Chris is enjoying the popularity that being the son of a potential vice presidential candidate is getting him. Predictably though Dana isn’t enjoying her new life or her new school where she has failed to make a friend and where she sees the majority of her classmates as snobs. It is Dana who accidentally blurts out a secret about her father that could have an impact on both his marriage and his political career.

Though I’ll talk more about my thoughts on the episode after it airs in the UK, I have to say that as ever the camera-work on this episode of Homeland is an intense as ever with the scenes in Beirut being a particular highlight. Danes and Lewis are both great here as is Mandy Patinkin as Saul, who we finally get to see in action, while Morgan Saylor is absolutely captivating as Dana especially in the final scene. I think the thing I loved the most about this episode though was that it was a slow-burner and while it could’ve gone in all guns blazing takes time to establish the new lives of our central characters. The last ten minutes though are as tense as anything in season one as Danes explores the dark side of Carrie once again and there is a reason that this first episode is called The Smile.

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