Homeland: 101 Pilot Review
“Pilot” (Series 1 | Episode 1)
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a pilot to a new show this good. Howard Gordon (24, X-Files) has devised one of the best new shows around. Gordon, along with fellow writers Alex Gansa and Gideon Raff have taken the themes terrorism, politics and military intelligence that made 24 such a dynamic show and developed them into an original, exciting drama.
If that wasn’t enough, they’ve spearheaded this new series’ cast with the acting force that is Damian Lewis. Fans of the 2001’s Band of Brothers will instantly recognise Lewis as Major Dick Winters in the popular World War II drama, helmed by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. However, this is not the fearless Easy Company commander that so many fans adored.
As Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody, Lewis is absolutely amazing – handling the complexity of this dark character perfectly. The pilot gave us some glimpse of what’s to come from this man and it was intriguing. When Brody was asked an important question by someone his reaction was a lie, we know it’s a lie because there was a short, sharp flashback that depicted the truth to what had happened. If he’s been flipped, which presumably he has, then this visual tool is going to be the most effective source of our understanding. Without it, there will be no way to tell when Brody is lying or telling the truth, and one thing is for sure – Lewis isn’t giving anything away.
Brody’s intentions are heavily scrutinised by a somewhat disturbed CIA agent, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). The last, and possibly only, thing I’ve seen Danes in was 2007’s Stardust…which sucked. Thankfully, Danes has proven in just one episode that she is right for Homeland. Mathison is an enigma. She’s a unique take on a CIA agent with her questionable methods, slightly bi-polar personality and peculiar evening habits, she is not the usual polished, slick government operative that you’d see in most TV shows. Combining these opposing characters in a story about deception, disguise and defiance is going to be a winning format.
As for the rest of the cast, there’s Brody’s wife, Jessica (Morena Baccarin – V, Stargate SG-1) who, like The Walking Dead’s Lori Grimes, has been heavily involved with Brody’s best bud, whilst under the assumption that her husband was dead. Brody was quick to put the pieces together on this one, what he will do now that he knows is still anybody’s guess. Brody appears to have been turned by a known terrorist called Abu Nazir, little is known about him but no doubt he’ll play a big part within Brody’s secret life.
Mathison on the other hand has a couple of friends, her boss Saul is a seasoned agent with a close eye on her investigation and her tech specialist Virgil (played by David Marciano, The Shield) is as blunt as he is brilliant.
The premise to this show is more than enough to get most people interested. A U.S Marine turned terrorist isn’t something we’ve seen depicted on the small screen in the last 10 years and by having Lewis as the lead you can be sure this character’s authenticity is in good hands. After hearing so much about Homeland’s popularity in the states I wondered why it had been so successful, now after watching only the pilot episode I can clearly see why.
Scene of the Episode | The debriefing – this was the first time we’ve seen the show’s two main leads in an interaction and it gave us a firm taste of what’s to come. Mathison was as subtle as a flying brick in her interrogation of Brody and I’m pretty confident that she’s placed herself firmly on his radar.
Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.