Continuing to turn the whole Manchurian Candidate scenario on its head, Homeland returned on TV3, Monday, with no let-up in suspense - or in its peculiar ability to make the viewer half- sympathise with a terrorist.
Congressman Nick Brody, (Damian Lewis) seemingly rehabilitated after long years in Muslim terrorist custody, has secretly been turned, and is covertly prepared to do the bidding of a shadowy extremist. Or is he? That's one of the most suspenseful elements of the series, that Brody begins as a disturbing automaton, literally willing to strap on a bomb and die for his cause, but is now coming out of the trance and wants only to practise his secret religion.
He is settling back into life with his family and a shot at the vice- presidency, reconciled with his new, non-violent role of influencing United States foreign policy for the benefit of his terrorist mentor. He has dropped the inscrutable passive-aggressive demeanour and could almost be a regular guy. But the mentor reaches out again, and before the end of the episode he's rifling through the CIA boss' secret files, and has once again gone chillingly blank behind those ice blue eyes.
Meanwhile, the mentally fragile CIA agent Carrie Matheson (Claire Danes), who has been pursuing him in the teeth of her bosses' opposition, has been pensioned off back to her family having been sectioned for hysteria. But as we know, her allegations about an imminent attack at a high-powered political gathering were horrifyingly sane, given that Brody came within a whisker of carrying out a suicide bombing. She is pulled back into Brody's ambit when an old contact in Beirut comes forward with information about his mentor's plans to attack the US. Her old bosses persuade her to go back east to talk to the informant and she agrees. Since the last series, her manic obsessiveness has been replaced by a fearful headlight possum gawp - which is prescient since by the final ad break she is being chased through a souk by a Lebanese agent with a gun.
Among other pleasures: Brody's strong relationship with his teenaged daughter and his Koran; his social-climbing wife's understandable incomprehension when he admits his religion; the beauty of Beirut; the unpredictability of any of the main characters. Not hard to fathom where all those Emmys came from.
ONE TO WATCH
Harry's Law, TV One, 10.55pm Kathy Bates returns as the salty American lawyer who has a midlife anti-crisis, trading her lucrative corporate job for a backstreet practice.
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