You’re Nuts If You Skip the New Season of Homeland

Homeland fans are eyeing the show’s upcoming fourth season with trepidation. After last year’s slog through unnecessary plot arcs, the show fell out of favor with viewers. But then the finale slammed us with an intriguing twist, making us wonder where writers would take things next. The new season begins tonight, answering the question that’s been on viewers’ minds: Will Homeland return as the series we once loved? (Before reading ahead, know that this piece contains spoilers.)

First, let’s look back at the end of last season. Fans were shocked when would-be terrorist Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was publicly executed in Iran after a CIA mission. His lover, agency operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), watched him die while pregnant with his child.

Viewers didn’t see the plot twist coming, but the dramatic end to the lead characters’ tumultuous relationship was praised. There was no steam left in the couple’s storyline, plus we welcomed the end of plot arcs about Brody’s beleaguered family. Come on, no one will miss Dana Brody’s teenage drama, or even her dad’s random heroin addiction in Venezuela.

After Homeland’s meandering third season, why should viewers tune in this year? We’ve got three reasons why you won’t want to miss Homeland’s new episodes.

There’s still tons of international drama.

Since Homeland is largely a treatise on the U.S. war on terror, the show always delivers gripping espionage crises. Season four opens with Carrie in Afghanistan, heading the CIA’s Kabul post and green-lighting drone strikes in the region. After a suspicious CIA bombing in rural Pakistan, doubts get raised about the intelligence and non-standard execution of the strike.

As Carrie and her colleagues come under scrutiny, it’s clear her counterpart in Pakistan’s capital is hiding something. Carrie flies to the capital, Islamabad, where much of season four’s action will take place. We also get background about the bombing’s lone survivor, who seems content to privately mourn his family. But is he secretly hiding feelings of vengeance — or will he become a CIA asset?

And what about Carrie’s former mentor, Saul (Mandy Patinkin)? Well, he’s in New York City trying to salvage his marriage and working for a private contractor. He mouths off about foreign policy in meetings while his bosses are just trying to get lucrative government contracts. Saul may have left the CIA, but the CIA’s culture clearly hasn’t left him. How does he fit into this season?

Fans will be horrified by Carrie’s parenting skills (or lack thereof).

Astute viewers remember that last season’s finale mentioned Carrie would be overseas, but in relatively safe Istanbul, Turkey. She was also supposed to be raising the child she had with Brody. About that…

Carrie’s position in the unstable Afghanistan-Pakistan region isn’t a fluke. She can’t bring dependents to war zones and is using work to avoid parenting duties in Washington where Carrie’s frustrated sister is caring for the baby. After tension over the botched bombing heats up, Carrie is forced to return to D.C. to meet with the CIA’s director. She’s also forced to confront motherhood.

Carrie can’t tear herself from her feelings for Brody, especially when holding his child. One especially terrifying scene shows that Carrie’s bipolar disorder can quickly cloud her judgement and she has no place around children.

While in D.C., Carrie maneuvers her way into a long-term post in Islamabad and dodges her responsibilities. However, it seems Homeland isn’t done with the motherhood storyline. What’s next for Carrie and her (poor) baby?

Carrie might enter another emotionally fucked up relationship.

Remember Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), the former black ops agent who helped interrogate Brody in season two? He and Carrie initially locked horns, but they eventually gained respect for each other. Quinn’s back this season and could prove more pivotal than ever.

Quinn is stationed in Islamabad during the bombing and is Carrie’s trusted ally in Pakistan. He flies back to D.C. with her, where he begins unravelling. Quinn wants to quit, but will his budding feelings for Carrie take him back to a conflict zone?

Seeing Carrie and Quinn couple up would be sexy, but they’re both broken people on the verge of snapping. They’re also conflicted about their dangerous jobs, which could spell trouble if they became emotionally conflicted about one another. A potential relationship would be dramatic, but is the storyline so obvious that writers will go in a different direction?

So many questions have been raised by the fourth season’s opening episodes — missing out would be a mistake. Tune in to tonight’s two-episode return of Homeland at 9/8C on Showtime.

[Photo Credit: Showtime]