Homeland Season 6 Episode 1 Review: “Fair Game”

Homeland Season 6

As much as things change on Homeland, they also stay the same. Tonight’s Season 6 premiere (which Showtime made available to the public weeks ago) has a new setting, new characters, and a new (and potentially exciting) conflict at the center of it, and yet so much of it felt overly familiar. Quinn is angry with Carrie…again, Dar is planning something shady…again, and Carrie and Saul are not working together (at least for the time being)…again. Many past seasons of Homeland have kicked off in this same fashion, only to amp up the tension and the drama as we reach the midway point of the year, and as far as premieres go, “Fair Game” isn’t anything bad; honestly, it’s just a little boring.

However, there are a couple of new, exciting aspects to Season 6 that I should mention. First and foremost, the storyline with Sekou Bah (J. Mallory McCree), a young, African-American Muslim, who, in the FBI’s eyes, appears to be encouraging violence against the United States, is something that we haven’t really seen before on Homeland. Without diving too much into the current political state of America, I’ll just say that this is a very tense time for minority communities throughout the United States, as black people, immigrants, and Muslims around the country worry about their rights and whether or not they’ll be represented in the coming years. Through the character of Sekou, Homeland can explore these issues in a more authentic and effective way than the series did last year with the reporter character that constantly clashed with Carrie (ugh, I was not a fan of that character at all).

Furthermore, I applaud the series for turning its focus toward such a controversial character, as Sekou is an individual that clearly wants to feel heard and represented, as he should, but may be voicing his concerns about these issues in a way that very well could be perceived as radical or extremist. As he says many times throughout “Fair Game,” there’s two sides to every story, and whether it’s Sekou bringing up little-known facts about men and women who have been labeled as “terrorists,” or the President-elect seriously considering whether or not she should pull U.S. troops out of the Middle East, it’s good to see that Homeland isn’t afraid to show both sides of the coin on many hot-button issues, providing us with a realistic look at the world of today instead of simply giving us the viewpoints of people like Saul or Dar. I’m very interested to see where Sekou’s story will go moving forward, especially now that Carrie and her new organization (still funded by Otto, who makes a quick appearance during the premiere) are involved.

In addition to Sekou, though, what has me most curious about Homeland Season 6 is Quinn’s role in it. Quinn being mentally and emotionally broken isn’t anything new; since he was first introduced back in Season 2, we’ve watched Quinn struggle with his demons and try to repent for his sins. However, how does a Quinn that is so physically damaged fit into the world of Homeland? What role can he serve if he’s not Dar and Saul’s go-to assassin, or the leader of a major CIA operation?

Rupert Friend is a terrific actor, and his performance as Quinn has always been a highlight since he first debuted on the series. He continues to be stellar throughout this first episode of Season 6, as we watch Quinn abuse drugs and allow himself to be robbed by a group of lowlifes that couldn’t care less about him. Quinn and Carrie’s relationship remains one of the central components of Homeland‘s DNA, and there’s no denying that his moving in to the floor below her near the end of the hour is a sweet and encouraging moment, one that can instill a bit of hope in fans that not all is lost when it comes to Quinn and his and Carrie’s friendship. But there’s also a dangerous co-dependency to Quinn and Carrie’s relationship, which “Fair Game” hints at, a type of addictive quality that has only appeared to intensify now that Carrie blames herself for Quinn’s current physical and mental condition. One of the major questions that Homeland needs to answer as the show continues throughout this season is simple: Is Quinn better off without Carrie, and in the current state he’s in, can he afford not to be with her? With Quinn in this new, weak position, I’m excited to see where the series takes his character and how it addresses that question.

Aside from those interesting developments, “Fair Game” serves as a pretty standard opening hour for Homeland. I’m happy to see the show taking place stateside again and am hopeful that the New York location will instill the show with a fresh sense of creativity, as the foreign locales for Seasons 4 and 5 did. Mostly, though, I’m just glad to have characters like Saul and Carrie and Quinn back on my television screen, and I’m optimistic that this sixth season can take these characters that I enjoy so much and push them in new, inventive directions. This first hour didn’t do that, but we’ve got 11 more to go. Let’s see what you have in store for us this year, Homeland.

Other thoughts:

  • Not sure yet how I feel about the character of Elizabeth Keane, but Elizabeth Marvel does really solid work in the small bit of screen time she has as the President-elect.
  • It’s nice to see Carrie being a good, stable mother to Frannie again after all the crap that the two of them have gone through in the past. The question is, though, when Carrie inevitably gets wrapped up in this season’s main plot, who will take care of her daughter?
  • We get confirmation that Carrie never took Otto up on his offer to be partners, both professionally and personally, as he tells her that he’s found someone else and encourages her to do the same.
  • This premiere did not have enough Saul. Give me more Mandy Patinkin, Homeland. Please.
  • So we know it’s nothing good, but what exactly do you think Dar and his gang are planning?

What did everyone else think about the Homeland Season 6 premiere? Comment below and let me know.

[Photo credit: JoJo Whilden/Showtime]

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