Series Review: Homeland Season 5 (2015)

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Rating: 8.5/10

So, I saw the latest season of Homeland. It is amazing. It is some of their best work (and season four was amazing as well). It was on my watching list, but I really thought I would finish Supernatural Season three first and then go watch the final season of the love of my life, Downton Abbey. Yet I felt myself inclined to watch this first and I loved it immensely. As usual, I’ve done a Like and dislike section, and sorry for the lengthy post, but I LOVED it 🙂

What I liked:

The new characters. YES all the way. Otto During, Jonas, the bitchy journalist with some very valid points, Miranda Otto’s trademark coolness in her role as Berlin station chief and all the German intelligence workers complemented the main characters very well this season.

I am huge fans of Otto and Jonas especially. The Nazi history and Otto’s determination to rectify his family’s terrible past makes him a complete fucking awesome guy. His clear-headedness in times of big trouble perfectly balances out his philanthropic idealisms – really liked the guy. What I liked the most was that he is a man who has seen how terrible the world is but still believes he can do some good in in.

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Jonas is in contrast the normal, kind and beautiful man any woman could ever hope to come across. He has such goodness in him and it is so rare to find such a humane and relatable character in Homeland (they are all cooked).

It is really good to see Miranda Otto again in a great role. I, Frankenstein was so terrible I won’t even refer to that as somewhere I’ve seen her. Anyway, I really like the woman. She has this perpetual frostiness of character that makes her seem so dangerous. She seems like such a conflicted person and it is impossible to pin down whether you like or dislike her.

Then there is Astrid – the German police officer that was so adept with dealing with people’s bullshit. One of my favorite new additions to Homeland and keeping it all crossed that she returns in the next season.

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The old characters

Carrie is (almost) normal. Can anyone who doesn’t hate Carrie M on an Umbridge level please raise their hand? Thought so. Carrie is impossible throughout seasons 1-4. She has moments where you are like, okay, I’ll deal with her, then she tries to drown a baby she’s crazy again and you’re just like “fuck off you mad fucking lunatic” This doesn’t happen in Season 5. There are a few seconds when you genuinely dislike her, but it isn’t the hate we’ve gotten accustomed to. She’s more normal than she’s ever been and it is miraculous.

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So much more Quinn. I think everyone was really concerned when our favorite assassin went and did his own thing at the end of season four. Well, he’s back, and his storyline is very well developed. He meshes in and out with Carrie’s drama – because it remains a fact that if you know Carrie M you are going to be in a sticky situation because of her, but he also has an arc that is entirely his own and that I immensely enjoyed. He has a pretty rough season and some parts are actually hard to watch, but it makes great television and very worthy gasps.

Saul Berenson. This guy is still my favorite character in the show. I get a thrill every time he says: “I am a spy” I don’t know why, but it comes through so incredibly confident – he knows how good he is in his job. He made some pretty questionable decisions this season, but I will forgive him because he is great and he is badass.

Homeland didn’t particularly accuse any given country of crimes they really work their asses off to show that they aren’t part of terrorism.

I really love the hell out of Homeland. It is a solid show about real world problems with really flawed characters. It is rough and honest and scary because it is mostly about extremist Muslim organizations. However, and I am inclined to take their side on this, Pakistanis were very offended when their government was portrayed as terrorist-enablers in Season 4. Homeland Season 5 1) only sasses countries that are used to sassing (i.e. Germany, Russia and the USA). They use a legitimate terror organization as their chosen group to focus on, but it more focuses on different cells within ISIS. So good up to the writers to coming up with something that doesn’t offend a particular brand of people who aren’t already used to being offended and focusing on an actual terrorist organization. I think.

The storyline changed completely.

The Brody Arc worked well in season one and two, and was really tiring in three. Season four still had some dregs about that whole scenario (even though four was an excellent season), we were all done with Brody. (Sorry, Damian Lewis). Season five is two years after season four and it allows a time frame to give Carrie to sort herself out – which she miraculously did. There are also new arcs within Homeland that didn’t exist before – focusing on Quinn, traitors in the CIA and the tension between Saul and Dar Adal, billionaires and their philanthropy and how that is not always the best idea.

The storyline went crazy dark Yeah, you are wondering if I’m a lunatic because the previous seasons were already dark. Season 5 deals with such complex and tense situations and I really enjoyed the following:

  • The moral dilemma between free journalism and keeping a country safe
  • What the Syrian government is actually doing to their people right now
  • The insanity that is the Syrian environment right now
  • A look into the mind of people who help terrorists and why they do it

Not all Muslims belong to ISIS.

Homeland never ever hinted that all Muslims are extremists, but it sure wasn’t anything they loudly vetoed. Season 5 changes that and adds to the growing number of voices ensuring Islamophobia doesn’t become an out of control problem.

What I didn’t like:

There are a few things that I would have liked more information on. I get that Allison wanted to hide her Russian ties and that her Iraqi (triple) agent was the secret to that, but 1) why was it in the secret documents and 2) they could have developed that more. It was probably hard to get all that into only twelve episodes though.

That’s really it for what I didn’t like. The season was great, and Homeland is really building a reputation as a show that remains good, even when they completely changed large parts of their story – it is a very difficult feat.

What’s your opinion on Homeland? Have you seen it?

Top Ten Television Crushes

Have I done one of these already? If so, I don’t care because I am doing another one! My list has certainly evolved the past few months with some pretty awesome and fine gentlemen working their way in! As I’m writing this the post is threatening to turn into a novel, so sorry for the long one!!

Special mentions:

Luke Danes – Scott Patterson, Gilmore Girls

Jon Snow – Kit Harrington, Game of Thrones

Jax Teller – Charlie Hunnam, Sons of Anarchy

Chuck Bass – Gossip Girl

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10. 

Jess Mariano – Milo Ventimiglia, Gilmore Girls

Character rating: 8/10

Smoky factor: 8/10

Final Score: 16/20

Jess comes in at number 10 because he is the perfect bad boy that every girl should have once in her life. He is not always good to Rory and his problems in life keeps him back, but later on in the story his character becomes extremely satisfying to see succeed.

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9. 

Seely Booth – David Boreanz, Bones

Character rating: 8/10

Smoky factor: 8/10

Final Score: 16/20

I LOVVEEE Bones. The show is good and takes place in a lab which, as it is part of my career world, I enjoy immensely (although the drinking and eating around human remains… nope).

Booth is so damn fine. The height, the size, the character, just take me now. I have a big thing for the whole injured soldier story so that factors in really well too.

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8.

Damon Salvatore – Ian Somerhalder, Vampire Diaries

Character rating:  7.5/10

Smoky factor: 9/10

Final Score: 16.5/20

I’ve only seen the first three seasons and I’m not that interested in seeing the rest because season three is already rather boring, but the main attraction of that show is Damon Salvatore. He is comfortable with his nature and doesn’t whine as much as his brother. Also, the eyes of Ian Somerhalder, paired with the black hair and that fuck-it-all attitude. Win.

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7.

Robb Stark – Richard Madden, Game of Thrones

Character rating: 8/10

Smoky factor: 8.5/10

Rating: 16.5/20

SOB. He was everything until George Martin was George Martin and killed him off. I’ve noticed that GoT has the same route – endear a character to the watcher/reader, and then pop him. Rob, with his curly hair, his kingly nature and his impulsive streak (that lead to said popping) made such a good character. Richard Madden was a great attribute to the show – looky wise, acting wise and execution of the storyline. He is sorely missed.

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6.

Tom Branson – Allen Leech, Downton Abbey

Character rating: 8.5/10

Smoky factor: 8.5/10

Final Score: 17/20

Tom Branson is initially introduced into Downton as a depiction of the unrest that was very much real in the middle and lower classes in Britain in the 1920s. Tom is adorable in his outspokenness and opinions and his fearless determination to give his opinion. His love story with Sybil is so romantic and fun because it is seen as inappropriate.

I love Tom. He is a good man and can see how the upper class isn’t all that bad although he disagrees with the class system. His grief at Sybil’s death had me so upset because it was done so well. His love for his young daughter and his determination to make life good for her.Just YES.

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5.

Khal Drogo – Jason Momoa, Game of Thrones

Character rating: 7.5/10

Smoky factor: 10/10

Final Score: 17.5/20

If this post was based solely on characters Khal Drogo would probably have been lower on the list. His character is cool but let’s face it – even though the love story between him and Khaleesi eventually becomes so beautiful it causes physical pain, the start of their sexual relationship is not at all consensual (at least in the series)

So it is thus the looks department that brings Khal Drogo in at number five on this list. He is so hot. All that muscle and manliness and the little scar above the eye and his looks and everything

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4.

Dean Winchester – Jensen Ackles, Supernatural

Character rating: 8.5/10

Smoky factor: 9/10

Final Score: 17.5/20

Ah Dean. Supernatural is such a great show (until season 5) and I’ve been scared plenty of times watching it. We all know who the better Winchester brother is. Sam Winchester is the most annoying crying baby that any show has had (apart from Carrie Matheson in Homeland). Dean however, is everything. HE is strong and resilient and such a good brother and smoking hot. His taste in music, his taste in cars, clothing and food. Everything just wins where Dean is concerned!

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3.

Peter Quinn – Rupert Friend, Homeland

Character rating:9/10

Smoky factor: 8.5/10

Final Score: 17.5/20

This could really be a list of my favorite shows too, as far as the numbering is currently going! I really enjoy Homeland and even though I find the drama, especially in Season 4, very much like a war propaganda from the US, I think the show is really well produced and the characters extremely well written. Carrie Matheson is the bane of everyone’s existence, not just mine, so the show’s quality relies on the supporting cast and the story.

Peter Quinn came to Homeland in Season 2 but never really received the proper character development he deserved. Every season would start off with some introduction on his life and extraordinary work skills and then just fade as Carrie’s crying face got all the attention.

Season 4 finally really starts to focus on Quinn, and although I retched when his feelings for Carrie came out into the open, I really enjoyed that he got more screen time.

Quinn is efficient and loyal and dedicated to his team, all of the things which Carrie is not. When he goes into avenging mode, it is damn hot and I just want to jump through the screen. I enjoy the many layers the character has and how he struggles with many of the decisions his superiors make.

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2. 

Sherlock Holmes – Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock

Character rating: 9/10

Smoky factor: 9.5/10

Final Score: 18.5/20

Sherlock comes in a close second on the favorite characters list. He is so intelligent and quirky and Benedict Cumberbatch brings the legendary sleuth to the screen in the way that no person could have thought possible. The three seasons are all highly entertaining, the banter between Sherlock and Watson is sharp and acerbic and the chemistry onscreen between Cumberbatch and Freeman contributes to the enormous success of the show. The story is sharp and layered and excellently written and produced. However, without Cumberbatch this show would have been really good, but I don’t think that it would have been as excellent. His unique features and nature brings the character to life – no one will ever be Sherlock as well again as he. Then there are Cumberbatch’s eyes and that voice that just kills me. (The hair and his height and his trench coats too)

Michael

1.

Matthew Crawley – Dan Stevens, Downton Abbey

Character rating: 10/10

Smoky factor: 9/10

Final Score: 19/20

Matthew Crawley has forever ruined television crushes for me, because no one will ever be able to compete against him and walk away the victor. I don’t always go for blonde haired guys, so when I do, you must KNOW that it is for character reasons as well as looks. Matthew really perfected my standards here. His character is amazing. He is kind and compassionate in situations where it wouldn’t be unfair of him to lose his temper. He goes through so much in the show and he remains this gentle soul. I love everything about him and I can’t see myself ever giving this spot away to anyone else.

Series Review: Homeland Season 4

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Rating: 8/10

(I did strikethrough on plot reveals – BEWARE!)

Once, long ago, I was able to switch a show off and not binge watch it until two o clock in the morning. That is no more because Homeland has no ethical values about normal sleeping patterns. Season four started off fine, but I was very detached from it all. Then the last few episodes happen: stuff blowing up, sieges, people getting abducted, and death all over the place. I could not stop watching, and I have the feeling that I will have a Sherlock sulk because Homeland is done now and Season 5 hasn’t even aired yet. Season four is miles better than season three. This is the order in which I will rand Homeland seasons in order of excellence:

Season 4

Season 2

Season 1

Season 3

The fourth season felt fresh. I enjoyed it because they didn’t have that pesky Nicholas Brody story arc to deal with anymore, and they could focus on what the show does best – the intricacies of counter-terrorism.

Homeland had a new and viable direction with the Pakistani government and their views on terrorism. Homeland is expert on creating situations where you have no idea who to root for. In season one and two it was Nicholas Brody – a pitiful character that went through probably one of the worst things anyone will ever go through, but I never really had a handle on if he was good or bad. The only villain that I can say I successfully wanted to be popped is Majid Javadi back in Season Three. He was the only character in Homeland that I could hate one hundred percent (maybe that is why Season Three wasn’t so powerful for me). This season’s chosen terrorist, Haissam Haqqani, was revolting and cruel, but he said some things that made me think twice about what he thought of the world.

What I liked:

All the sass that was thrown to Carrie’s side: “There is not even a disease for what is wrong with you”, and “it’s not about you” were two of my favorite lines. Carrie always messes up but no one, except Saul, ever told her exactly what they think about her actions. Not anymore though. Carrie is getting it from all sides, and it is maybe the one thing that can make her character more bearable.

Episodes 6-10: The season started off with the slow pace Homeland is known for, and then exploded with Saul’s kidnapping. The last two episodes had me biting my nails and exclaiming out loud – not something  I usually do when watching a show alone.

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Quinn’s character development:  Quinn and Saul are my favorite characters in this show. I feel about them like I feel about Tyrion Lannister – pop him (or them) and I’m out. A big flaw in Homeland’s makeup was that they started season three with possible character development for Quinn and then just dropped it when they had other things to put up on the screen. Quinn began this season with a traumatic experience but luckily this time around he is developed. I appreciated his German friend’s opinion on Quinn that he will always try to leave the CIA but will never do it – accept that about him or walk away. I do not appreciate the Quinn loves Carrie storyline at all. As I mentioned to Zoë, Quinn needs a real nice person to save him and Carrie doesn’t even qualify as a real person in my eyes. Him hooking up with his apartment block supervisor gave me quite a start, I’ll admit, but I would still prefer him with that lady instead of Carrie.

How the hell did I start liking Director Lockhart? He was such a pig in Season Three when he stole the CIA directorship from Saul. I did not think I would ever like him, and suddenly he is a guy you start feeling sorry for and respecting, especially with the invasion of Embassy and him attempting to save Farah’s life.

Ambassador Martha Boyd: She was classy and kept a cool head during everything. I liked her the entire season through, especially when she refused to let Carrie run amok in the Embassy.

I would have enjoyed more of John Redmond, the second in command at the Istanbul station. He was such a no-nonsense guy – you knew he was good, hardworking and loyal, and once he dealt with not being Chief of Station he got over it and helped Carrie where he could.

Aasar Khan:  I very much enjoyed the addition of Raza Jaffrey as Khan. It was also unclear if Khan was good or bad, but I did start leaning towards good once he kept Carrie safe after she was drugged. He seems like the only good man in the ISI right now, and I would love if he could come back in Season 5. Also, isn’t he just dapper in his military uniform?

Saul’s relationship with Haissam Haqqani during his capture: You have got to have deep admiration for a man that speaks his mind when he is locked up by terrorists. What I liked about Haqqani was his good treatment of Saul (I am sure he didn’t extend the courtesy of that to all his prisoners though) and how they had their debates about their extremely different views on life and freedom.

Dafuq, PLOT TWIST: There was this one moment where I was so WHAT THE FUCK. It messed up my mind completely and I was shocked for about five full minutes until the producers deemed it fit to let you understand what you are seeing. If it HAD been true, I would have recommended the writers start up Days of Our Lives again, because it was such a soapie thing to happen. But WOW was I shocked.

What I didn’t like:

Carrie Mathison. More shows should have strong female leads. That includes Homeland, because Carrie is not a strong female lead. The things she did in this season far eclipses everything she did in the previous three seasons combined. I did not take kindly to her deserting the child she had conceived with the man she apparently had loved so much, and her seducing a vulnerable young man nearly made me retch, she just doing what she wants with not a thought of who gets hurt. Clare Danes should be applauded for being able to portray such a horrific woman.I’ve stomached so much from her in the past three seasons but she really went to a whole new level with her molesting that kid. I don’t care what anyone says, she was way too old and experienced for him.

Terrorists getting away: As with Javadi, Haqqani also gets away. It may be unrealistic, but I would have loved if Quinn had managed to blow up the terrorist that had killed Farah.

Carrie’s mom making an appearance: This arc may be an indicator that the focus of Season 5 can be shifting to Carrie’s domestic problems, and I don’t have the patience to deal with that. Her mother came across just as selfish and petty as Carrie was, and we don’t need someone else like that right now. The one thing I do agree with Carrie is that what her mother did, whatever reason, was unfair toward her and her sister as children.

Well, there wasn’t much that I really disliked. I will even go a bit further and say that Carrie wasn’t as horrible in the last fifteen minutes of the 4th season as she usually is. Homeland Season 4 is a must watch, a saving grace after the poor season three and as nail-biting as you could ever hope it to be.

Series Review: Homeland Season 3

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Rating: 7.5/10

Season two was probably the best season that Homeland had produced up to that point, so my expectation for three was phenomenal. It turned out to not be nearly as great. I think they needed this slower season to show how frazzled the intelligence community was by the bombing of the CIA – if this season had exploded like two it would have felt insincere and impossible. I still really enjoyed it though, even with Carrie getting more and more out of hand.

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What I liked:

The hearing at the start of the season: It makes you understand how serious the American government takes it that the guys who are supposed to protecting them from terrorists got their headquarters bombed… by terrorists.

The acting: I could name each and every actor and actress that did their role spectacularly, but as that would be the entire crew; I won’t waste our time here. From Claire Danes down to someone in a small role, it is quite clear that the producers were serious about casting and that they wouldn’t stop until someone perfect was found. I especially admire Claire Danes for her role as Carrie – you have to be absolutely brilliant to play such an annoying fucking person.

The effect the bombing had on Brody’s family: Although not as well developed as it should have been, it was quite well shown how badly Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) took the fact that her father is a terrorist.

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Rupert Friend as Peter Quinn: Okay, it seems like I will get into some character discussion here. Rupert Friend is well cast and I have such a good time when his character is around. He, at least, knows how follow orders, listen to his superiors. I did think his development started nicely then deteriorated into nothing. YOU BETTER NOT KILL HIM, PRODUCERS.

Saul Berenson: Mandy Patinkin is a bright star in this show. He has so much heart and class, and even while I want to shake him about his attitude about Carrie, I love that he care so much and that he isn’t someone who will just kill ruthlessly.

The reprehensible characters: Yes, Carrie does repulse me more than Petyr Baelish, and Brody is the weakest person I have ever seen, but they are so damn human and flawed that it makes for compelling television.

Majid Javadi: What a villain! He is so cold and cruel and the way he dealt with his ex-wife and then calmly explained to Saul his actions gave excellent insight to the beliefs extremists have. He gave me such chills and it is the first time in Homeland that I was convinced a character was bad – he had nothing good to him.

Fara Season 3

The inclusion of Farah Sherazi: My big problem with programs like this is that the fact that there are good Muslims out there is often ignored. Farah was thus essential to the show because she is a modern Muslim woman who honors her beliefs but understands the difference between religion and extremists.

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How Brody’s life deteriorated: The building up to where he was hiding out was excellently paced and his capture and detainment in Caracas was chilling. Even when he repulses me I have such pity for him, how even he eventually understood he shouldn’t be around anymore because there was nothing else he could give society as he had been broken too much already.

What I didn’t like:

The season had a sluggish start.

The Brodys were pushed to the side once Brody went on the run. I really thought the bit of Brody’s home life worked well, and it’s sad that it disappeared.

Where did Mike Faber disappear to? I loved his character and thought that he was the real thing Dana, Jessica and Chris needed.

Peter Quinn had an opening for emotional development, but it soon dissolved all into Carrie, Carrie, Carrie, and he was left untouched for plenty of episodes, just to be picked up and dropped off.

You can’t expect every season to end like Season 2 did, but this Season didn’t have a fraction of the… explosive power (not sorry) that season two ended with.