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'Homeland' season premiere ratchets up the tension

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(Read caption) 'Homeland' stars Claire Danes (l.) and Damien Lewis (r.) both took home Emmys for their roles on the show.

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Whether or not you are of the mindset that Homeland trumps such television darlings as Mad Men and Breaking Bad in terms of cable television drama, it’s difficult to ignore just how taut and thrilling the series can be. Just look at how quickly the series brings things to a boil following a cooling period between seasons with a storyline that jumps forward in time, but manages to feel terrifyingly present in terms of the events in the Middle East and the way the American political machine is built almost entirely on hype.

Some time has passed since last season’s breathless finale, and things have largely quieted down in the respective households of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). For one thing, Carrie is living with her father and sister, teaching English as a second language, while Sergeant Brody is now Congressman Brody – and in a ridiculous, yet poignant stab at the insanity of an election year, the potential running mate of Vice President William Walden (Jamey Sheridan). During the transition from increasingly paranoid CIA agent to humble English teacher, and American war hero to effortlessly popular political entity, the common ground that links them, Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban), has largely remained quiet. But, as luck (or the season premiere) would have it, the wheels of the international spy game and of global terrorist organizations never cease to spin.

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