Danes is nearly indescribably great in her portrayal of Carrie, still feeling like a relative self-confident badass but so subservient to her own emotions that pretty much any scene she’s in you wait on the edge of your seat for the other shoe to drop. She’s the nerve-wracking, paranoid nexus of the show, and even though she’s as stable as ever, she’ll still set your teeth on edge in the most delightfully rewarding way possible. The rest of the cast at large is back here, too, with Saul (Mandy Patinkin) still the gravely voice of reason of the show, now leading Peter (Rupert Friend) on a few off-the-books missions in attempts to round up what appears to be the remnants of Haqqani’s men and women from last season.
The new players are worthy additions to the cast as well, including Allison (Miranda Otto), who’s in charge of the the CIA’s Berlin station and faces far more than she was bargaining for when the hacked documents begin threatening to leak an American-Germany surveillance partnership that may not be entirely legal. Otto is enjoyably succinct and crude in her captaining of the Berlin branch, but it’s newbie Laura (Sarah Sokolovic) who becomes immediately captivating as a headstrong journalist on the trail of the leak, becoming a catalyst for some of season five’s most tense moments so far.
Maybe the biggest issue with this iteration of the show is the fact that the writers are beginning to spin some redundancies into the plot (Carrie is “better,” Carrie ignores her pills, Carrie is paranoid again) that certainly feel a bit déjà vu-y after a while. I mean, seen one obsessive interconnected-yarn-wall mural-of-suspects, seen ’em all. But the show still manages to come back from its lulls with upticks of violence and mayhem that cause far more hand-to-mouth shock than ever before. And that’s what Homeland reigns king of in 2015: five seasons in and it still manages to produce some of the most uncomfortably tense espionage sequences on – and off of – television.
And there’s massive hope for the rest of the season to continue to deliver in that department, especially with an episode two cliffhanger that promises while Peter and Carrie may be out of luck in the relationship department, they definitely haven’t seen the last of one another. There’s just a ridiculously satisfying amount of content in these first few episodes, and in promises moving forward, that make Homeland‘s cloak-and-dagger world one of the most easily absorbing right now on TV. It’s undeniably somewhat dark and nihilistic in its presentation of a world nearly constantly on the brink of chaos, but, truthfully, it’s sometimes too much damn fun for its own good.
Carrie gets pulled back into the twisted espionage world of Homeland in the darkly tense opening hours of season five, and if you ever gave up on the show in the past, you'd be doing yourself a favor in joining her.