By Victoria Looseleaf
Talk about your major wardrobe malfunction: Thank you, Homeland, for sparing Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis, another amazing British actor with a killer American accent, above left and below), in your 90-minute season one finale. (Spoiler alert: Brody’s bespoke bomb vest, which would have taken down a bunker full of heavy hitters, including Jamey Sheridan’s Vice President William Walden, initially fails to detonate in the ex-Marine’s quivering fingers.)
As to how we feel about Claire Danes‘ C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison, opting for electroshock therapy during the ep’s final moments, well, desperate actions call for desperate measures, and Carrie’s bi-polar affliction has been part of her brilliance. We only hope she doesn’t lose too much of her short term-memory in the long run, a cliffhanger, fersure, as just before getting zapped Carrie realizes something crucial to Brody’s having been turned into a terrorist.
Danes (left), in a word, is phenomenal, and not only because she studied modern dance, performing as recently as 2007 at New York’s P.S. 122, but because she’s fearless in showing raw emotion and dogged determination. In so doing, she helps to lead us through this twisty-turny, cat-and-mouse, post-9/11 psychological thriller, at the same time becoming part of a new golden era of television, one that rivets with its blood-and-guts/sweat-and-tears’ sensibility.
Completing the thespian trifecta is Mandy Patinkin, who, as Carrie’s C.I.A. boss and mentor, the wise, chicken soup-toting Saul Berenson, brings a bit of much-needed menschdom to the series, his own marital problems also coming in and out of focus. Patinkin, though he was George in Stephen Sondheim’s magnificent Sunday In the Park With George (his Dot was Bernadette Peters, both seen below in a tribute to Sondheim’s 80th birthday), hadn’t been our favorite onscreen presence in recent years, so it’s great to have him back in such a textured, yet tic-less role.
Then again, everyone on Homeland hits the right notes, from the gorgeous Morena Baccarin as Brody’s wife Jessica, to David Harewood as Saul’s superior, David Estes. (Another Brit, oy, this invasion could be cause for worry if we didn’t love these dudes so much. Btw, that would also include our going gaga for PBS Masterpiece’s recent Page Eight, David Hare’s take on modern-day espionage, which featured flawless performances by Bill Nighy, Ralph Fiennes and Michael Gambon, as well as BBC’s The Hour, starring Ben Whishaw and Dominic West – click here to read about those lads.)
Speaking of Hare (we loved his adaptation of The Reader), and writers in general, cuz if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage. And Homeland’s got writing to beat the Hail-To-The-Chief-band. Adapted from an Israeli TV series by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, Homeland takes us on a multifaceted journey where paranoia rules, tensions are sky-high and there are more cover-ups than those found on a pimply-faced teenager. Who else but but an outstanding scribe could conjure sniper Tom Walker (Chris Chalk), carjacking an old lady in order to fire bullets from her luxury condo (no Texas Book Depository here). Just another day – and another way – to breech security.
Should we be scared?
Oh, yeah, and we owe it to Showtime. With HBO’s Boardwalk Empire also just having finished an equally fabulous season (its second – click here to read our farewells to Michael Pitt’s Jimmy Darmody), we’re gonna have some pretty empty Sundays for a while. The good news is that Homeland is available On Demand, so we can go back to not only reveling in some of the show’s stellar moments (the trysting between Carrie and Brody in a parking lot was hot and turned out to have intended consequences…), but also to unravel stuff we may not have gotten the first time around. (Hey – we wouldn’t mind unraveling a bit of Brody!)
We’ll be watching the Golden Globes January 15 (click here for our Ricky Gervais update), rooting for Homeland for Best Television Series – Drama (Boardwalk killed Jimmy; they also won last year) and Danes and Lewis for Best Actress and Actor (though snubs for Patinkin and Pitt as Supporting Actors leave us cold). In any case, it’s almost time to light our Hannukah candles – and go see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (Keith Olbermann raved about the flick with Gary Oldman in the Alec Guinness role originally written by John le Carré), to see how secret agents, moles and the like did it in the old days.
This just in: Congratulations to the incandescent Claire Danes for her Golden Globe award for best actress in a TV drama series; and to the show, itself, which won for best TV drama. Well-deserved and we couldn’t be happier, except that we wished Damian Lewis would have snagged a Globe for best actor (and don’t get us started on Kelsey Grammer, who robbed Mr. Lewis of the honor). In any case: Well done, Ms. D. and all the peeps involved in the show. Keep up the great work.