Homeland was brilliant, now it's Hatufim's turn

By Simon Round, May 10, 2012

Channel 4

Damian Lewis as Brody

Damian Lewis as Brody

There can be very few people who sat down to watch the first episode of Channel 4's gripping psychological thriller who were not there for the final instalment last Sunday. The series, adapted from Gideon Raff's Israeli drama Hatufim, was a beautifully written, multi-layered dissection of two minds - that of US marine Nicholas Brody, memorably played by Damian Lewis, and of bi-polar CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes). Mathison was convinced that Brody had been "turned" by his captors after spending eight years as a prisoner of Al Qaeda. Even without the is-he-or-isn't-he? dimension, this would have been an absorbing drama. However, Homeland was more than that. The war on terror was painted in shades of grey rather than black and white. Brody still managed to be sympathetic even when he was preparing to carry out his suicide bombing, while his target, the vice president, was painted as a heartless murderer.

Just as gripping was Brody's relationship with his wife Jessica (Morena Baccarin), who, in his absence, had started a relationship with his best buddy Mike. And as a portrait of a hormone-drenched teenager, you would do no better than Morgan Saylor as Brody's daughter Dana.

Carrie, handicapped by her own mental illness and the fact that she fell in love with her foe, was brilliantly drawn. Her CIA relationships with colleague Saul Berenson and boss Estes, also resembled those of a dysfunctional family.

Saul (Mandy Patinkin) in particular rivalled Carrie in complexity. Fiercely devoted to his job, despite the toll it took on his marriage, he was full of compassion not only for Carrie, but even for an Al Qaeda terrorist suspect who committed suicide in custody - prompting him to recite Kaddish.

If the series was tense, the finale was heart-thumping with Brody, in suicide-bomber's jacket, preparing to blow the vice-president and his advisers to kingdom come, as a seemingly demented Carrie pleaded with Dana to call him to "talk him down".

If there is a criticism, it is that we were left with too many loose ends. These will doubtless be tied up in the promised second series which will be broadcast on Channel 4. Happily, for those who cannot wait, Raff's original Israeli series has just begun on Sky Arts, and will be reviewed next week.

Last updated: 7:23pm, May 10 2012