Tag Archives: CIA

Channel 4…Is Homeland Season 3 finally taking off

3 Nov

Homeland Season 3 has struggled. The main bogey-man from the first two seasons, Abu Nazir, is gone and Brody is faraway in Caracas, Venezuela. It has been left to Carrie and Saul to provide the suspense and drama that season 3 desperately needs.

Carrie it seemed was being hung out dry by the CIA over her relationship with Brody. Saul had apparently washed his hands of her, and was determined to have her permanently detained in a mental institution as her trademark erratic behaviour appeared to worsen.

Just when we start to think where was this all going, the story took a dramatic turn. Carrie, it became clear had all along been undercover with Saul’s approval. The plan to make her made a pariah was an elaborate hoax to get people representing Iranian interests to contact her on the basis that she was now vulnerable and isolated, and she had information they needed.

It worked, contact was made. It seemed however it may have worked a bit too well as the Iranians seem somewhat eager to speak to Carrie. So much so in last night’s episode they kidnapped her at night from the flat. Once more Carrie is “out in the wild” and in real danger.

Saul meanwhile was fighting his own battles, battles of a more political nature. After the Langley bombing in Season 2 he had ended being the most likely man to head the CIA going forward, but was outmaneuvered as the President handed the position to a man who sees less of a benefit in human intelligence and more reliance on technology, a view Saul thinks is madness. The appointment clearly put Saul’s career in jeopardy.

Now that we are done with the seemingly pointless distraction of Dana Brody running away with her boyfriend, all the main pieces of season 3 are falling into place. The Iranians are in town and mean business, Carrie is out in the wild with only her skill to rely on, Saul is one again at odds with the powers that be but still needs to protect his people. Folks, Homeland Season 3 has finally got its groove back.

The Americans : ITV shows it has more than reality shows and soaps…

2 Jun

Ok Downton Abbey was a massive worldwide hit for ITV but in recent years the channel seems intent on convincing us that there is nothing “too low brow” for ITV prime time. Granted a lot of the prime time shows are entertaining, but you are often left feeling slightly light-headed at the end of the evening watching ITV as occasionally some of your brain cells lose the will to survive.

So it was a pleasant surprise when after last Saturday’s Britain’s Got Talent ITV decided to go for some radical programme scheduling (for them). No gentle chat show, no light-hearted sitcom instead what we got was a tense, complex political thriller – The Americans.

Take yourself back to the early 80′s and the cold was is still very much alive. Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) are undercover Soviet intelligence agents from the secretive Directorate S of the KGB sent to the U.S. 15 years ago to work deep cover in Washington, D.C.

Their assumed identities are a married couple who run a travel agency, and even their own children Paige (Holly Taylor) and Henry (Keidrich Sellati) do not know their secret.

Their seemingly serene life together is put into jeopardy when a KGB defector reveals the existence of the programme, and is further complicated when one of the FBI agents charged with finding Russian sleeper spies Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) moves in a few doors away.

ITV are hoping to recreate the success Channel 4 had with Homeland with this and the opening episode last saturday was very encouraging. We see Philip is struggling to enticement of the American society even as his wife steadfastly remains true to their mission and you feel that rather than any investigative ability of the FBI may be their undoing.

Watch the trailer here

Catch Up with missed episodes of the The Americas on ITV Player

Homeland Season 2 Finale…1 Brit Down 2 Left Standing

25 Dec
Homeland (TV series)

Homeland (TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a problem there is now a huge void in my Sunday night’s TV schedule and I am not sure it is going to be filled anytime soon, as  it is going to take something big to fill it.

Yes Homeland Season 2 came to an explosive finale on Sunday and when I say explosive I mean both literally and figuratively. 200 dead and the CIA headquarters in Langley blown apart. Abu Nazir’s wrath reached out from the grave and wrecked annihilation. Did this explosive end redeem Season 2?

After all the plaudits and accolades Homeland gathered in the first season, there was a lot to live up to in Season 2. In my opinion it struggled a bit particularly in the middle. Not because it was was not  great TV, it just that season one was stupendously great and often a great first season is very difficult to beat.

Brody’s suicide bomber plot to kill the Vice President had been uncovered and that pretty much killed off a major plot line and the question was where would it go from there.  There were many sub plots left but none of them alone with enough substance to drive a third season except maybe the mole and that is just what seemed to have happened.

Right from Season one we knew there was a leak in the agency, that deep in the Agency there was a ‘third man’ or men .  Who could be

Galvez -The ‘Muslim’ CIA operative, pretty much always under suspicion by people on the programme. He was fingered as a mole by Carrie when it was thought Abu Nazir has escaped but he would be the obvious answer and would be too pat an ending.

Carrie – Bipolar, scatty and at at times maddeningly irrational. Could she be the mole and she doesn’t even realise it, some sort of split personality manifesting itself as the antithesis of what she stands for?  It would be a big reach, but in the last episode she would have been in a position to move Brody’s car, and seemed to encourage them to leave the hall before the bomb went off.

Saul – It seem’s he is becoming the people’s choice for the Mole. His prayers for the dead at the end of the last episode sent social media into a frenzy as people assumed it was an arabic prayer (it was hebrew), but even if that was a red herring there is still the failed lie detector test from season one. I don’t know if it can be him, he just seems to reliable.

Estes – A mole deep in the top echelons of the CIA. That would hav been a massive coup. There is one problem he is dead and unless the mole plot line ended in season 2 it is unlikely. On a side note we have lost the first of the three Brits on Homeland in Estes (David Hartland). He will be taking Homeland Questions and Answers on his twitter feed on the 26th (https://twitter.com/DavidHarewood)

Quinn – The third Brit (Rupert Friend) in the Mix (alongside Brody and Estes). We all know Hollywood loves its bad guys to be Brits so that’s one thing that swings it in his favour. He is black ops specialist and his past has been kept very quiet. He works for  Dar Adul. Who is he?  Are Quinn and Adul some sort of unit that has gone rogue? Plausible but is it possible?

Whoever it is we know they are able to penetrate America’s most secure facilities and wreck havoc.  Interestingly using Brody’s car to move the bomb pulled him right make into the picture just when he thought his life was all coming together (shades of Arlignton Road there). To compound matters Brody’s suicide tape has been released to the media.

All this gave the end season 2 the massive talking point it needed and redeemed the season while laying the ground for a new season, but in my mind changes the essence of the show.

Brody is permanently tainted and threat to America is now well and truly on home soil turning the programme into a mix of  The Fugitve and 24.

Season 3 is going to be more of a challenge for the writers than the last two seasons, but for me I am still in.

In Homeland there is no Movember for Abu Nazir!

26 Nov

In the much missed comedy series “The Fast Show” the character Swiss Tony was famous for comparing any situation he found himself as like “making love to a beautiful woman”. I was going to use that analogy to qualify how much I loved Homeland but like Swiss Tony I would simply not be making any sense. It is probably enough to say I do really like it.

I noticed that I have been getting a lot of folk from the US on my previous posts about Homeland. Just a note to say that the here in the UK we are running a week behind so my observations and comments on homeland are effectively at least a week old as far as you guys are concerned.

Back to the show. A few weeks ago I contemplated whether Homeland had jumped the shark, there was the massacre of the CIA agents and the sub plot with the Vice President’s son’s hit and run accident and Brody being turned. Where was it going go from there? Where was the suspense going to come from? Well I should apologise it hasn’t jumped the shark and I think I jumped the gun on that one.

This week we got an insight into where the series might be going. We see Brody weighed down by the pressure of being a double agent and the stress it is causing him, and his relationship with his family particularly his wife and daughter. As the stress becomes unbearable  he snaps and is prepared to damn the consequences and walk away from the deal he had with the CIA, only the timely intervention by Carrie using all the assets at her disposal to persuade him to stay the course.

However she made have acted too late as it seems his handler Roya had already become suspicious of Brody’s loyalty, this sets in motion a chain events which sees Brodie snatched from an open field in the countryside late at night bundled into a helicopter and flown to some destination unknown.

There he comes  face to face with man at the centre of all his travails, and the only adult in the whole programme who does not refer to him by his surname and that includes his wife. The man is Abu Nazir and he was clean-shaven, obviously not quite got the Movember idea.

Channel 4…Did Homeland “Jump the shark” yesterday?

12 Nov

Do you remember any of the following

  • When you found out in Heroes that Sylar somehow hadn’t died at the beginning of Season 2
  • In Only Fools and Horses, after Del Boy, Rodney and Grand dad finally became millionaires and then in the next programme had lost it!
  • When Who Wants To Be A Millionaire became a series of endless specials. Husbands and Wives, Mothers and Sons, Celebs, Bosses and Chauffeurs etc…

They are arguably the points at which great shows should have come to a dignified end but refused and ended like the proverbial Grand dad still strutting his stuff at a night club with kids who weren’t born when he qualified for a free bus pass.

Homeland has been a great show, but the lingering question after the Season One reveal was how will they keep the suspense and drama going. We all know knew what Sgt Brody was up to, granted there were still some unanswered questions like, the Mole and why he did it.

This season things have moved on a pace, and a gripping one at that. The CIA found out what Brody been up to, and he’s been turned.  Suddenly the most the remaining underlying uncertainty that propelled the show was rapidly fizzing away, where the taut, tense drama going to come from.

In yesterday’s episode Brody gave up the location the workshop of the tailor who provided the suicide vest to the CIA. He had also made contact with the reporter Royya Hammad (his intermediary to Abu Nazir) while wearing a wire and she had revealed that there was something of interest in the tailor’s workshop. Royya Hammad was latter followed and seen in discussion with a man with a vaguely middle eastern look, whom CIA tried to follow him but lost.

These three sub plots all come together to provide the subtext to the dramatic, unexpected, incredible and arguably  implausible (by Homeland standards) end to yesterday’s episode.

As the CIA agents were searching the Tailor’s shop a number of men dressed in SWAT type body armour and sub machine guns burst in and in the resultant gun fire all the CIA men were shot dead and the invaders retrieved a large case from behind  false  wall and escaped. One of the invaders was revealed to be the man Royya had been talking to.

That many agent killed at one go in a small town. It almost seems gratuitous violence to reboot the show – a “shark jumping” moment, psychological tension replaced by formulaic violence. We will only really know when we see how they follow on next week if this is a real change in the show’s direction.