Hey, guys! Time for part two of the pilot reviews!
Episode grade: A-
Plot: Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA operations officer, believes that an American Marine Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who was held captive by Al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war, was turned by the enemy and now poses a significant risk to national security while the rest of America see him as a hero.
What worked: This is going to be a little tough to review because this is one of those shows that are a lot more enjoyable when nothing is spoiled, so I am going to be purposely vague and won’t go too much into the arcing story of the episode. Anyway, let’s head right into it!
With the absence of 24, there has been an America-is-under-attack guilty pleasure void to fill in TV Land. It has been over a year, but I think Homeland does just that, only it’s more sophisticated and interesting (so far!) If my score is any indication, you would be correct in assuming that a lot worked in this pilot episode. Homeland is a very well paced show and every scene has you on high alert for any revelations that might be revealed. While I was watching the pilot, I found myself constantly analyzing Sgt. Brody’s behavior to see if I could figure out if he was indeed a threat and what his actions, and reactions, signified. I have not seen Damian Lewis in anything since Band of Brothers, which I consider one of the best series of all time, so it’s really nice to see him shining once again. His role as U.S. Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody is very interesting; stoic and gentle at one moment, then suddenly violent and eerie the next. It’s really intriguing to watch.
I also really like Claire Danes in this role. She plays a believable, neurotic CIA agent (who is also on anti-psychotic drugs! Yikes!) It’s definitely a different role for her. She’s bitchy, brilliant, and relentless all in one (the complete package, guys) and it’s nice to see a strong female lead which such intelligence and determination. I can only imagine the intense scenes that are in store for her that will no doubt happen later this season. Despite her off-putting personality, she does have people in her life that really care for her and that I think do a really good job as playing likable roles. Mandy Patinkin (Criminal Minds) as Saul Berenson, the CIA’s Middle-East Division Chief, plays Carrie’s old boss, mentor, and somewhat of a father figure and David Marciano (The Shield) as Virgil, who aids her in the surveillance of Sgt. Brody and is the one who presses her about why she is using the anti-psychotic drugs.
Morena Baccarin (Jessica Brody, Nicholas’ wife) is as gorgeous and stunning as ever and I am glad to see her with long hair again (yowza). The rest of the cast is very solid except for a few minor quibbles that are mentioned below.
Without touching on the plot too much, I’ll just say that there’s a pretty big reveal at the end that made me really appreciate where this show is heading. I wish I could talk more about it, but you will have to watch it for yourself! Highly recommended. I can see this show being the breakout series of 2011; also, keep an eye out for a renewal much earlier than normal.
What didn’t work: Though the pilot is very well done, there are still issues here and there, the most obvious being how certain contrived clichés find its way into the series. What I mean by this is that Carrie’s co-workers, especially her boss, are often portrayed as unintelligent bureaucrats who never ask the right questions. And when Carrie does ask these perfectly reasonable inquiries–this is most profound during the group interrogation of Sgt. Brody–she is shot down and shunned for it. Do TV shows always need stupid people in high places to make the lead role seem more intelligent? Anyway, it really doesn’t take too much away from the show and it is still early and things will undoubtedly change to the better once the show gets its bearings. I have a feeling we will end up liking certain people we currently dislike later on in the series. That’s how it works, right?
Outlook: Good show. Good outlook. Will buy from again. Looking forward to see where things go.
Note: I don’t know if I will be getting around to be doing weekly reviews of ‘Person of Interest’ because of time constraints. I really want to keep the reviews to shows that I really enjoy so I can put more effort into them. However, I am also thinking about doing a weekly TV round-up with much shorter reviews of all the shows I watched during the week, which would not be exclusive to freshman series. Could be more fun! What do you think?