If you have not seen season one, this review contains spoilers.
If you have not seen season one, this review contains spoilers.
Things aren't looking good for ginger-haired terrorist Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). Season one of 'Homeland' was an intensely satisfying thriller, which ended with ready-to-die martyr Brody being talked down from blowing himself up by his unaware daughter. When it finally came to putting his life on the line and strapping on that explosive-laden vest, Brody had second thoughts. He couldn't leave his wife and kids behind so ignominiously. And that's what makes 'Homeland' so damn good. There's no black and white here. It's an espionage-filled world full of varying shades of gray.
Brody isn't the only conflicted character. Enter CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) who spent the first season proving that she was the most batshit insane character on television. The fact that the season ended with her getting her brain scrambled in and attempt to return to normalcy was oddly expected, but nonetheless surprising. Carrie's correct, but unproven, obsession with Brody's terrorist ties drove her mad. Hurricane Carrie ended up being one of television's most unstoppable forces, right up there with Walter White's Walter Whiteness and the general badassery of 'Game of Thrones.'
Watching Carrie was, to put it in clichéd but perfectly understandable terms, a roller coaster ride. Every bug-eyed moment, every teary declaration, every underhanded dealing, drove Carrie down a road leading to electroshock therapy. It wasn't pretty, that's for sure. But it was damn fun to watch.
Season two picks up about six months after the first season's finale. Carrie is recuperating with her family. She's lost her position at the Agency and doesn't necessarily want it back. However, when the CIA finds out that there's a credible threat to the country they bring Carrie back in for a one-time mission so she can speak to one of her trusted informants. It's no surprise that that ends up bringing Carrie back into the fold, so to speak.
Saul (Mandy Patinkin), driven almost insane by Carrie's utter nuttiness in the first season, begins to realize there's a method to her madness. That's when the season gets really good. If you haven't seen the second season yet, then spoiler alert!
Someone else besides Carrie knows the truth behind Brody. Well, not the whole truth. There isn't any one character that possesses that knowledge in this show. Whether there is an actual truth at the center of the who terrifying façade is entirely up for debate. Though, it's nice to see a few more people working together with Carrie instead of openly working against her. She needed vindication.
The acting in 'Homeland' continues to be superb. Creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa have crafted a tantalizing story with deeply rich, beautifully flawed main characters. Rooting for Carrie is a bitter-sweet sort of thing. On one hand she's fighting for the country and trying to protect its population from catastrophe. On the other hand, you get the feeling that she's so dedicated simply because she's obsessed with being right.
Brody is another brilliant enigma. In any other show his character wouldn't be as layered. He's genuinely torn between the family that he loves and the terrorist, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), that he grew to love. Since the characters are anything but stereotypes it's nearly impossible to predict how they'll react to the situations they're placed in. After two seasons 'Homeland' remains one of television's best shows. Hands down.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
There are three 50GB Blu-ray Discs in this set. Each disc contains 4 hour-long episodes. They're housed in a standard Blu-ray keepcase and come complete with a slipcover. The back of the case indicates this is a Region A-only release.
There's little, if any nit-picking to do with 20th Century Fox's transfer of 'Homeland: The Complete Second Season.' Like the first season's Blu-ray release, the second season showcases amazing detail, wonderful definition, and immaculate color reproduction.
Textures, faces, and skin all appear as natural as they possibly can. The faintest freckles and the smallest tears are still easily seen in this presentation. The fabric of Brody's suits is almost tangible. Blacks are deep, providing stark shadows that never crush detail unnecessarily.
The digitally shot show has a filmic quality to it. It never appears flat or lifeless. Depth and dimension are equally great here. Mid-range detail is almost as startling as close-ups. It's far too easy to get lost in the luxuriousness of Mandy Patinkin's immaculate Saul beard. Honestly, I have a hard time finding anything wrong with this presentation. The only thing keeping it from a five-star rating is the fact that many people probably wouldn't end up using it as demo material to show off their setups.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix keeps you on your toes. Simply from the unsettling and jarring jazz-accompanied opening credit scene you know you're in for a different sort of sound mix. 'Homeland' plays more with nuanced sound rather than beating you over the head with loudness. That certainly works to its advantage. The show's sound design accurately reflects its unpredictability as a story.
All the hushed dialogue and tear-tinged whispers are expertly captured and reproduced through the center speaker. Carrie, Saul, and Brody don't speak in a normal tone of voice very often so it's imperative that their whispers are hushed but clear.
Low-end accompaniment is steady throughout the season. Whether it's the bass in Sean Callery's jazz-inspired score or the brunt of an explosion, LFE is resolute. The rear channels pick up the hustle and bustle of Middle Eastern marketplaces and the busy hive that is the Central Intelligence Agency. Directionality, fidelity, and clarity are all top-notch. If you enjoyed the sound of the first season on Blu-ray, nothing has changed. It's really great here too.
I can't get enough 'Homeland.' Carrie Mathison is still one of my favorite characters on television, simply because she's completely unpredictable. She's crazy, literally, and that's what makes her so fun to watch. 'Homeland' is full of complex characters that never act like the stereotypes that we've become accustomed to seeing in shows of this ilk. The second season of 'Homeland' is definitely recommended.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.