Showtime's new psychological thriller, filmed mostly in Charlotte, comes from the executive producers of "24," but borrows much more heavily from a "Manchurian Candidate"-type drama.
"Homeland" tells the story of Marine POW Nick Brody (Damian Lewis, "Band of Brothers," "Life") who was rescued and returned home after eight years in Afghanistan. He's welcomed back to America as a hero, but CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, "My So-Called Life" "Temple Grandin") believes he was "turned" while in captivity, and that he's back to assist Al Qaeda with a terrorist attack on U.S. soil.
Carrie makes a compelling case. After all, Brody's behavior is often quite odd, but how much of that can be attributed to the trauma of his imprisonment and torture? There's also the matter of Carrie's mental state. We learn in the pilot that Carrie is bi-polar, a condition she conceals from her employers, and one that for the most part, goes untreated. Let's just say she doesn't always demonstrate the best judgment.
So is Brody a bad guy, or is Carrie unstable and paranoid?
I've watched three episodes and could still go either way on that, which is the point. Even though "Homeland" tackles the same post-9/11 security issues as "24," there's much more ambiguity in this series and more exploration of moral shades of gray.
Ultimately, the audience can trust neither Brody nor Carrie, so our faith often lands on the shoulders of Carrie's mentor and boss, played by Mandy Patinkin. And Patinkin's character definitely has his hands full in managing Carrie.
The tempo sits nicely between "Rubicon" (too plodding) and "24" (too frantic). There's definitely tension and some of the scenes are a little hard to watch. And in addition to the psychological thriller aspect of the story, it's fascinating to see Brody navigate his home life after eight years away (he left behind a wife, and two children who barely remember him).
"Homeland" debuts on Showtime at 10 p.m. right after "Dexter."