Damian Lewis, Morgan Saylor, Jackson Place, and Morena Baccarin in Homeland.
The word “homeland” makes me kind of queasy, especially when used by the Bush administration in launching the Department of Homeland Security nine years ago. It’s reminiscent of the beloved Nazi “fatherland.” The less patriarchal “motherland,” preferred by the Soviet Union, sounds just as creepy. But as the title for a new series on Showtime, Homeland makes for a tantalizingly tense television drama in which creepy is a good thing. The brilliant Claire Danes plays Carrie Mathison, a crack CIA agent taking medications to mask bipolar disorder. Mandy Patinkin is a marvel as Saul Berenson, a seasoned spook who’s her mentor. As performers, they’re both at the top of their game.
In the October 2 debut, the inciting incident takes place in Iraq, where Carrie is on an unauthorized covert mission. After a jailed militant awaiting execution tells her that an American POW has been “turned” by al Qaeda, she’s busted before learning more details, put on probation, and reassigned to the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Of course, nothing can keep this obsessive woman from the work that gives her life its sole meaning.