It could be, no TV drama has ever given viewers such a damaged pair of protagonists as Brody and Carrie on “Homeland.”
Marine Sgt. Nicholas Brody was a prisoner of war in Afghanistan who returned home a national hero — and, covertly, a terrorist turncoat (having been turned by Al-Qaida during his 8-year imprisonment).
Carrie Mathison was a CIA agent whose obsessive inability to prove Brody’s betrayal, coupled with her bipolar disorder, led to her dismissal from the agency and a mental breakdown.
During this Showtime series’ gripping first season, Carrie and Brody played a cat-and-mouse game of global intrigue, swapping roles as one, then the other, seemed to gain the upper hand. Along the way, they had a brief, tumultuous love affair.
On Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT, “Homeland” begins its second season, boasting a haul of Emmys that includes the best drama award and trophies for best actress and actor for stars Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
Six months after last season’s action, Brody is a newly elected U.S. congressman and a prospective vice presidential candidate still in thrall to al-Qaida. Carrie now works as a teacher and continues her recovery, still reeling from her painful conclusion that Brody was innocent all along.
“The writers have carried off this trick — haven’t they? — of creating two engaging anti-heroes,” says Lewis during a recent interview.
Speaking as if an audience member, he sums up the show’s shrewd symmetry: “Carrie Mathison can save us, and we WANT her to save us. But her illness and her ambition at times creates a self-absorbed monster who will stop at nothing just to achieve her goals.
“Brody, on the other hand, is barely defensible because of his endless lying and the fact that he represents such danger. But there’s sympathy for him, because he’s a victim as well.”
Sympathy! For the man who, only at the last second — stunned by a plaintive telephone call from his daughter — scrapped his plot to assassinate a room full of government bigwigs with his suicide vest bomb. Instead, he returned home to his loving wife and two children, still committed to the cause and beyond redemption, and with no one the wiser.
“He’s developed sociopathic tendencies and an ability to compartmentalize his life: He can be one person in one situation, another person in another situation,” says Lewis, looking pleased. “For an actor, that kind of ambiguity and complexity is tremendous fun.”
Read the full interview at The Washington Post.