Sunday, September 30, 2012

Emmy-awarded "Homeland" Season 2 starts tonight, more credible account of CIA than most

Spurred by recent Emmy results, I checked out “Homeland” tonight, on Showtime HD, the first episode of Season 2 called “The Smile”.

I suppose that the series gives a more realistic look at what may go on at Langley than most other, more high profile shows and movies about the CIA.  I wonder if the agency really does hire back troubled agents and give them new assignments, after electroshock therapy especially.

Claire Daines, as Carrie Mathison, seems to be struggling to have some kind of family life, growing her own vegetables and cooking for her family, when she gets sent on a three-day intelligence trip to Beirut. Carrie believes that Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a rising political star and former Marine gunnery NCO, was the same person as an asset actually held by Al Qaeda and converted to radical Islam, and the show, at the end, confirms some of that belief.   Carrie has to show some ingenuity to escape from a dragnet in a market in Beirut.  Is this real life for CIA case officers?  I doubt it, but it sounds more believable than ABC’s “Missing”.

The opening sequence of the show replays some 9/11 footage in black-and-white, and the plot suggests that Carrie is coming into specific intelligence about a homeland attack.  In the meantime, Brody seems able to get into the CIA and get his hands on classified stuff.  Not sure I believe that could happen.

One interest aspect of the episode was the quickness with which CIA agents are sent around the world, and how they try to live their family lives as if they didn’t do anything unusual.  That sort of thing happens in my novel manuscript. I actually pruned some of the excess travel from my novel because I didn't think it was believable. 

The official site is here.

You wonder if CIA employees really are “military”.  Maybe so, while pretending not to be.  The show does an interesting reconstruction of what the atrium in the CIA interior looks like, and how security in-processing works. 

Wikipedia attribution link of Lamgley CIA entrance picture.

If you have it, watch this program in HD.  It takes some doing to find the HD channel number for your zipcode, at least on Comcast; for me, it was one channel lower than the regular one.

The episode was directed by Michael Cuesta, who is also a producer.  Cuesta directed "L.I.E." ("Long Island Expressway") in 2001.  That film had a showing at the Lagoon Theater (Landmark) in Minneapolis on September 11, 2001, and Cuesta was there for a Question and Answer.  I met him personally in a bar in downtown Minneapolis afterward; he was stranded there because of the airlines shutdown after 9/11. (I lived in Minneapolis myself at the time.) I recall that the DVD of "L.I.E." was edited to remove the old World Trade Center towers.  Since he directs this series with its subject matter, I'm sure he remembers that day and that film showing well.

The show does not seem to have any commercial breaks, which means that the viewer gets a full hour of rather densely-plotted television viewing. 


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