So the finale of Homeland is upon us tonight, and what a journey it’s been. For a series that started out looking like every one of those empty conspiracy thrillers America loves so much (I’m looking at you, “The Event“) it’s been refreshing to see Homeland change into a rare example of well acted, tense and involving dramas, helped along not in the least by a great cast. The finale is bound to excite; teasing us with answers, whilst also filling our minds with even more questions. So why do I feel slightly apprehensive of what’s become a Sunday night staple?
The irony is that despite its dedication to serious, well-thought out and seemingly realistic plots, Homeland, because of its very format as a television series, can never be as realistic as real world conflict because we all know it’s already been commissioned for a second season. Much like the greatest blockbuster films where you know the “goodie” won’t really be dead when the sentimental music strikes up, this single fact meant that whilst getting involved in all of the drama of the series, there was always a small, annoying voice in the back of my mind bleating “You know it won’t all be wrapped up soon anyway – there’s at least another season of this to go”. Who knows, maybe the series will do a Skins, and the finale will feature an almighty explosion that sees all characters jettisoned into outer space, so that the next season can have completely different characters in almost the same predicament reliving everything again for our amusement (whilst taking copious drugs), but somehow I doubt it. Many of the main characters will be staying on because they’re what’s at the heart of Homeland – how on earth could we get a new Carrie?
There’s nothing inherently wrong of course with Homeland getting another season – it only cements what we’ve all been thinking about it from about episode four onwards – that it’s great TV. It’s just a shame that, in the nature of the real world vs the world of the programme, the news of another series somewhat breaks all of the hard work its been doing to instil an idea of drama and suspense into the proceedings.
Whilst I can just about let this slide, what I’m more worried about is this series turning into another Lost or Heroes. Each of these had an amazing first season, and granted, even their second ones weren’t so bad. But then they carried on. And, in Lost‘s case, on again. Until the memory of that first exciting season was whisked away, like so many mysterious and unexplainable appearances of black smoke. Granted, Homeland has a few things on its side – there aren’t any random encounters with polar bears appearing out of nowhere that the writers will have to explain – so it’s looking more likely already that season two will be able to fit the mould of the first. But still, somehow, the doubts linger. It’s just the way it goes unfortunately – after that first great idea, few writers are ever able to continue in the same vein, especially when commercially forced to do so – which is why so often in the TV world we see first season fad fading to second/third season flop.
I hope this won’t be the case for Homeland, and that the writers are able to steer clear of Lost‘s choppy waters. All they have to do is make sure they bring us a second season not because the network or even the audience demands it – but because the story does.