At the end of Homeland's second season critics and fans were still on the fence as to whether the show could reclaim its season one glory or would simple fall into the category of shows we once loved. But the show's panel at the Television Critics Association press tour—and the reaction from said panel's audience—made us believe there's hope yet for the show.
First off, critics that had gotten the chance to see the first two episodes of the new season were effusive. HitFix's Alan Sepinwall remarked in his summary that he "liked" the episodes "a lot, particularly in how they deal with the aftermath of season 2." Meanwhile The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman said they were "refreshingly grounded, beautifully acted and sharply written."
But—light spoiler alert—what was missing from those two episodes that made us most excited for the new season. Despite the a whole lot of Brody in the teaser released yesterday, Damian Lewis' war hero-turned-terrorist does not show up in that first pair of outings. For Lewis fans and Carrie-Brody 'shippers that might be bad news, but it's heartening that the showrunners sacrificed the presence of their lead actor for storytelling purposes. "It’s about where the story was taking us," Alex Gansa said according to Ray Richmond at Deadline. Fellow showrunner Howard Gordon credited the lack of Brody to "timing and touch," per Sepinwall's report.
Whereas it felt like season two played a lot for shock value—running high off the season one success—this hint about season three, implies that the creative team is taking a step back to the season one mindset where tense, emotional mystery was a driving force. Brody's storyline persistently defied any sort of logic in season two, and a break from him undoubtedly helps ground the show. (Note, Gansa didn't think revealing Brody's absence should be kept under wraps, but he did think that it would be a spoil to reveal when he returned.)
That's not to say the show will be perfect. The Brody family is back even though Brody's on the lam—though apparently Dana is less "eye-rolling and annoying," Goodman tweeted—and our heroine Carrie Mathison is off her meds and is in isolation for what Claire Danes called "a good chunk of the season," Vulture's Denise Martin reported.
Still, the attitude on display—not haughty, very thoughtful—makes us think we'll be hooked again when the show premieres September 29.