Tuesday, 4 October 2011

And the Best Pilot of the Season is...

Showtime's Homeland! After reading this post, this post, and this post about the show before it aired, it was wonderful to find that it exceeded expectations, and that people watched it.

The marvelous thing about the pilot is that along with believably presenting a world of the highest stakes (like 24 did in its less nutso seasons), we find ourselves treated to multiple character studies by some really amazing actors. Damian Lewis is better than I've ever seen him in this character, to the point that I can't really imagine another actor playing this role. I'll write more on him in a few episodes. In the best way possible, I can't quite get my head wrapped around him. I also think Morena Baccarin shows here that same dynamism we were treated to in V for two seasons.

Claire Danes is revelatory. She has that same watchable intuitiveness here that she's always had, and she draws you in by passionately leading you to believe that every word she's speaking is true, even though empirical evidence may tell you otherwise. Not to beat the dead horse that everyone's beating, but this quality is what makes My So-Called Life so perpetually terrific: you care about Angela Chase, and Danes pulls you into Angela's emotional world, but you recognize that Angela is an unreliable narrator, a teenage girl figuring it out as she goes.** In Homeland, Danes and the writers bring this to Carrie Matheson, who is damaged, unstable, even paranoid. I love the shades of gray here. I love the jarring wrongness of Carrie trying to seduce Saul in a moment of desperation. I love that Carrie is a little awkward with people, and that she takes anti-psychotics. Most of all, though, I love that she actually could be wrong about this whole thing. Yessss.

I'm beyond impressed with this show's first hour, and I look forward to seeing if it can build on its excellent pilot. I do find myself a bit concerned about long-term potential, and whether the central mystery is enough to sustain it through the whole season, but the strength of the pilot makes me prone to trusting its makers from steering it into another The Killing-level disaster. Watch it if you haven't!

**As a special treat, check out this Vulture article comparing Danes's new character with Angela Chase. 15 shades of awesome. Boom.

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