Homeland season 4 Blu-ray Review
Spoiler alert: if you haven’t seen the three seasons, I wouldn’t read this review
My love-hate relationship with Showtime’s ‘Homeland’ took an unexpected, drastic turn with the fourth season of the usually uneven show. I loved the first season, almost quit watching after the second, thought the third was okay and then fell in love again with the fourth season. I can’t remember a show that managed to correct all of its problems from one season to the next, but ‘Homeland’ came back in a big way by jettisoning all of the emotional garbage that had built up in the first three seasons in favor of getting down to the nitty-gritty spy work. For those that have lost faith in ‘Homeland’, trust that it found its form again in seasons four and might actually be better than ever.
When we left off with the third season, Brody had just died and Carrie (Danes) revealed she was pregnant. Brody’s death was the best thing that happened to ‘Homeland’ because the drama between him and Carrie was nausea inducing. But season four starts out roughly a year later, with Carrie leading her own post in Pakistan. But when the site leader at Islamabad is murdered, Carrie wields some political prowess to get appointed to the post herself. She convinces Quinn (Friend) and her old team to join her as she navigates through the murky waters to determine who she can trust, all the while trying to find a wanted terrorist. Things get more complicated when Saul (Patinkin) gets kidnapped and she discovers a traitor living in the embassy.
The last five episodes or so are filled with so much intensity and pulse-pounding action that I was physically sore after each episode because I was so clinched up. I haven’t been that way since the last episode of the first season and even then, I felt the show let me down. But in the fourth season, things don’t always go well for our heroes and the constant twists and turns give an air of believability to the show that makes everything that much more captivating.
Thankfully, the emotional relationship and family drama has been almost completely axed from ‘Homeland’. Brody’s family is nowhere to be seen and Carrie is willingly taking her meds. There’s a short arc when her meds get altered, but it actually works well in the show. By getting rid of all the non-spy related things in Carrie’s life, the showrunners managed to strip Carrie and the show of all the unnecessary baggage that had ruined the show in previous seasons. This is also a more mature and collected Carrie since she’s not blasting off and doing her own thing, which means she’s not making stupid decisions. Instead, she’s clearly an excellent spy and is incredible at her job, which is something we lost sight of in the previous seasons.
It’s hard to find too much wrong with the fourth season, but if there is one weak point, it might be with the seldom used Mandy Patinkin. In previous years, he and Danes shared the show, but he’s a secondary character in this season. I love Saul, but in some ways, his reduced screentime is a good thing because he was part of the Carrie problem in previous seasons. It worked for one season, but I’d like to find a way to get him back in the spy game and working with Carrie as opposed to directing her. They clearly set up something for him over the course of season four and hopefully that will come to fruition.
Due to its inconsistency, ‘Homeland’ is one of the more puzzling shows on television. So although I’d love to hail the fourth season as its return to form and a sign things have turned a corner, my faith in the show is minimal while my hope is extremely high. The very last episode of the fourth season almost negated everything positive I’ve said, but if you’ve toughed it out through three seasons and are on the fence about catching the fourth, know that the fourth might be the best season yet. If ‘Homeland’ can continue with this momentum, it’s only going to get better.
Video: ‘Homeland’ looks beautiful on Blu-ray, whether the show is in a dark room or outside, ‘Homeland’ always looks great.
Audio: The audio was also very well done.
Deleted Scenes (10:50): There are several scenes spread out over all three discs. Most of these are filler scenes and nothing that would make a difference to their respective episodes.
From Script to Screen (23:15): These are several mini-featurettes that focus on the story and writing of various episodes. They’re interesting, but I would have liked a longer, more structured feature about how they decided to go in the directions they went.
Character Profiles (16:55): Quinn, Aasar Khan and Fara Sherazi get profiles.