Homeland Season 1 captivated viewers in a way few shows have. It was a highly talked about show about viewers for a variety of reasons, but one of the most unique things about the show was how so many of the episodes ended. Instead of dangling audience members (or characters) off cliffs to draw them back for the next episode, they left viewers with a stunning revelation.
Just enough of a temptation or a tease to leave viewers desperate to know what came next. There was enough information to leave viewers both fascinated, and speculating — what does this clue mean, if this person is in fact so-and-so, then what does this mean for the plot that is unfolding before our very eyes.
Instead of leaving the characters in precarious situations or life-and-death peril, the episode ended with these revelations that left the audience suddenly rethinking what they thought they understood, pondering new possibilities, and eager to come back next week and find out what it all meant.
Those revelations also meant the show was dangerous to watch on DVD, or as a marathon… an episode would end and starting the next episode was positively irresistible. Those temptations would convince a viewer that surely they had time to watch just one more episode and find out what came next, and what it meant for the characters, and suddenly where a few hours might have been set aside for some relaxation with Homeland, suddenly an entire day could have vanished!
Add that writing technique to some fun plot twists, and the show snagged the interest of an audience that likes puzzles, thrillers, and fitting the pieces together as they figure out if Carrie (Claire Danes) is crazy, or if Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) is truly what he appears to be.
While seasons 2 and 3 of Homeland also featured strong writing and interesting conspiracy style plotting, the episodes were less consistent with the “reveal” style endings that had so hooked me in season 1. In fact, it was those reveals that pushed me from encouraging a few friends to watch the show to outright insisting they had to check it out, because the writing was different from so much of what was on the air. Instead of a contrived cliff-hanging situation I was sure all the characters would miraculously survive, these reveals were filled with water-cooler conversation worthy material, with tidbits and revelations that spun my understanding of things I had seen before and left me reconsidering what I thought I already knew.
Homeland continued to be a strong show, using season 1 to explore the return of a Prisoner of War, and his re-integration into his family and life at home. It was full of hopefully impossible possibilities (or at least things I do not want to imagine ever happening in the world I live in) but that was part of the magic of the show. It was believable, real — and horrifying.
Season 2 was full of consequences, and season 3 was trying to figure out if a person can make amends for their youthful indiscretions. (Or at least that is my best attempt at a spoiler-less summary of the seasons.)
Once I started watching the seasons on DVD, I could not walk away. I had recorded the episodes as they aired, having learned during the first season that waiting until next week for the next episode is a form of torture. But finding time to watch the seasons had not come until this past weekend, and suddenly, I lost a day to season 2 of Homeland, and the following day to season 3 — which in fact went into the DVD player so quickly on the heels of season 2 if someone had been watching me they might have thought they were all out of one boxed set.
Homeland is a show with a knack for making this particular viewer at least, not just want but need to know what comes next, how that crumb is going to be used, and how things are going to play out. As a result, I am recording season 4 so I can marathon through it the moment the last episode has aired!
Homeland airs Sundays on Showtime