Cameron Lee ‘20 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
Spoiler Alert: This review contains spoilers for the season 6 premiere of Homeland.
After a failed terrorist attack in Berlin last season, Homeland has once again changed its location. This season is set in New York City and, while the scenery may have changed, this episode is very much what viewers have come to expect from the show. Several months have gone by since the end of last season; Quinn (Rupert Friend) is very much alive and is slowly recovering from all the damage he endured last season in a veterans hospital. Carrie (Claire Danes) is now working for a non-profit organization that defends Muslim clients against discrimination. Otto During (Sebastian Koch), who was Carrie’s old boss last season in Germany, comes to visit Carrie and, like in the season five finale, tries to get romantically involved with Carrie. This ends up going rather poorly. At the same time, Saul (Mandy Patinkin) and the always shady Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) are in charge of briefing the new president-elect, Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), on current CIA operations. Dar Adal is, of course, concerned about the new president’s motivations and experience regarding the CIA.
Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison in Homeland. PC: Slashfilm.com
He also thinks that she plans on dismantling the CIA. The reason for this is revealed to be because her son died while serving in the Iraq War. Saul, on the other hand, is more open to Keane’s point of view. After the briefing, Dar Adal secretly meets with Tovah Rivlin, who works for Mossad. He tells her that certain operations must be quickly put into motion. What these operations consist of is unclear but, considering that Dar Adal has always been a duplicitous figure in the world of Homeland, one should expect these operations to have a significant impact on this year’s storyline. Meanwhile, Quinn refuses to see Carrie when she comes to visit him in the Veterans hospital. He later escapes from the VH and gets picked up by a prostitute. She drives him to a flophouse where Quinn partakes in taking lots of drugs and having sex. He then gets mugged and pistol whipped in the face just for good measure. Carrie finds him and brings him back to the VA but, after seeing Quinn suffering while being restrained, she takes him out of the VA and lets Quinn live at her place.
The premiere also introduces us to a new character, a young black muslim teenager named Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), who is most likely going to be the focus of the first half of this season. Sekou goes around the city filming and posting videos of himself at various sites of past domestic terrorism attacks and chronicles the events and his views on them. Following the filming of one of these videos, he is arrested by the FBI for materially supporting terrorism. Carrie is called in to represent Sekou and is told by FBI agent Ray Conlin (Dominic Fumusa) that they found plane tickets to Boko Haram, which is the base of operations for ISIS, and $5,000 under his bed. This is obviously going to be a tough case for Carrie to take on, as the evidence is pretty damning in favor of a harsh sentence for Sekou. We know little about Sekou’s motivations and backstory but as the season progresses we are sure to learn more about Sekou. The final scene of the premiere shows Dar Adal meeting with top US officials without Saul. Dar Adal comments that “It’s probably for the best.” Hopefully, Saul hasn’t gotten himself kidnapped again like in season four.
Homeland premieres often contain a lot of substance and plot development that carries through the entire season. This premiere is slower and much more character driven than most Homeland premieres. It set up many different themes and issues that are very relevant today. Homeland tries to explore new ideas every season but tends to drop them towards the latter half of every season. But, Homeland also starts to get really interesting and compelling at the midway point of the season. This show follows a model and it often works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This premiere proves that Homeland is back. For better or worse.
Episode grade: B