Homeland: “Fair Game” Season 6 Premiere Review

Photo Credit:http://variety.com/2016/tv/news/homeland-season-6-presidential-election-peter-quinn-back-1201783448/

After two seasons abroad, Homeland has finally come home for more headline regurgitating espionage. Since Brody’s death, the show has smartly hit the reset button with each season premiere, allowing the writers to better make their points one at a time season after season. “Fair Game” brings Carrie, Saul, and the rest to New York City following a presidential election. Carrie is working for an organization that combats Islamophobia while Quinn (yes, he’s alive, of course) is in rehab. Then there’s Saul and Dar, who must lead the CIA through a president, and thus policy, transition.

That is where season six feels even more different than seasons four and five did. Homeland is a show practically birthed out of the transition of power between George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Now it’s survived long enough that the country has significantly changed before its eyes. Enter Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel, remaining presidential after her strong stint on House of Cards), a new face in politics written before the outcome of the 2016 election ever occurred. Keane is, thankfully, very carefully written. Don’t mistake the fact that she’s female to mean that she’s a Hillary Clinton stand-in. Upon her meeting with Saul and Dar, it’s immediately clear that she’s not used to these closed-door meetings or entirely how the system works. But it’s also immediately clear how she got elected. She oozes charm and relatability, and she gets right to work, hoping to demilitarize the CIA and have more oversight over the use of drones. In many ways, she seems like the kind of face that the Democratic Party should put up in 2020 to combat Donald Trump, fresh and of the people, but controlled. Keane is meant to have qualities to keep Homeland mirroring headlines no matter who won the election, with the level-headed, presidential appeal of Clinton and the unpredictability of Trump. What the writers have succeeded in doing here, however, is introducing a fascinating political figure in today’s society, one it’ll be exciting to see the CIA face off with.

With so much turmoil in the US following the election, it feels essential that Homeland came home. The premiere also introduces us to Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), a young Nigerian man who films himself talking at notable terrorist sites in New York and uploads it onto his website, where a lot of anti-American content resides. Sekou is arrested late in the premiere, but as Carrie points out, being anti-American isn’t illegal. Practicing Islam in secret from his mother and sister, Sekou is just a kid trying to figure out his place in the world, non-violently. He represents the old American ideals of welcomeness and finding yourself, just with a face and religion many of tried to use as an example of evil. McCree isn’t a very good actor, unfortunately, but his plotline is pivotal to the US right now, showing just how dangerous Islamophobia is to many Americans’ way of life. In representing him and taking on his case, Carrie comes off as truly heroic. This storyline has serious potential, not only for the show’s main characters, but in its overall relevance and strive to better our culture.

Then there’s Quinn’s large chunk of the premiere, which shows that this once fearless warrior’s mind and body are all but shattered. For all Homeland has put its characters through, it’s realistic to see one of them so broken after it all. “Fair Game” takes time to show us a system that doesn’t care for its veterans. So you add veteran’s affairs to Homeland‘s long list of topical storylines. But Rupert Friend has a unique opportunity here, just as the show does. I’m not saying a battered Quinn is primed for the show’s most worthwhile plotline, but by keeping him out of the game after all the mistakes these characters have made feels like a necessary penance.

Homeland is renewed through season eight right now (extra seasons the show likely won’t need), but Quinn’s storyline feels like something that could only happen after a show has reached a reflective era after six or so seasons. The actual script of this episode isn’t the sharpest, but these new characters and storylines really work so far. Somehow, after all the ups and downs the show has had, Homeland still has some gas left. “Fair Game” succeeds in hitting the reset button not only for the show, but for the country that exists inside the show. It’s a very different world than the one we entered in season one, but I’m excited to see how the show continues to reflect our own. Grade: B+

By Matt Dougherty

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