Who to trust in a show where the leads don't even trust themselves?
"Homeland" will probably have plenty of new viewers when its second season premieres Sunday, thanks to the armful of Emmys it just won, including for best drama and for leads Claire Danes and Damian Lewis.
Those new viewers should be able to get into the swing of the things quickly by just keeping in mind that the two lead characters don't trust each other, or themselves. And that they're as unable to predict their own actions as you are.
Sgt. Nicholas Brody (Lewis) is a returned POW who spent years with terrorists who tried to turn him against the United States. He embraced their religion, Islam, but not necessarily their willingness to do violence against the U.S. The season 1 finale placed Brody in position to take out top government officials in a suicide bombing, but he balked after a frantic phone call from his daughter.
CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Danes) was the only person who suspected Brody was a terrorist sympathizer and possible threat. But her bipolar disorder made her unable to trust her own (correct) instincts, and her overaggressive pursuit of Brody got her kicked out of the agency. The season ended with her remembering a key piece of evidence — and then undergoing electroshock therapy likely to make her forget it.
Did we mention their affair? The two had a drunken tryst at a cabin midway through the season — one Brody seems eager to forget as he begins a run for Congress.
With those preliminaries out of the way, here are five things you'll want to know about season 2:
1. BRODY & CARRIE'S POSITIONS ARE REVERSED
In season 1, she was in the CIA — as inside as you can get. He was all-but forgotten by his country before his return. Even his wife was starting to move on.
This time, Brody is a politcal insider being groomed for greatness. And Carrie is a disgraced ex-agent no one wants.
But you can bet that will change.
2. YES, THERE IS A REASON TO REUNITE THEM
A few months ago, we asked executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa about some of our wilder theories about what machinations might bring our leads back together. Gansa smiled to say we were overthinking it. "They're in love," he said.
3. CARRIE'S GOING TO BEIRUT
What will bring Carrie back into the fold, besides love? Her past. As Gordon told us at the Emmys, season 2 finds Carrie traveling to Beirut to meet a contact there who won't talk to anyone else. So much for that personae non grata thing.
4. BRODY COULD STILL BREAK EITHER WAY
"For a long time in the first season, we talked about whether Brody is going to be a terrorist or not," said executive producer Gideon Raff, who created the Israeli series that inspired "Homeland."
"We didn't have the answer in the beginning when we started writing and shooting the show," Raff added. "We still played with the idea of him being this way or that way."
Brody is still trying to figure it out. He promised his former captors at the end of season 1 that he had only bailed out on the suicide bombing to get in position to do even more damage. But it felt like he was just buying time. We'll find out soon enough.
5. YOU CAN WATCH THE FIRST 20 MINUTES RIGHT NOW
If the wait until Sunday is really killing you, you can watch the start of the premiere by clicking here.
"Homeland" premieres at 10/9c Sunday, following the Season 7 premiere of "Dexter" on Showtime.