Terry Morrow: In second season, 'Homeland' reaches near-perfect balance

Carrie (Claire Danes, right) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin)  are on a mission in the Middle East in the season opener of "Homeland," debuting Sunday night.

Copyright: Showtime 2012

Carrie (Claire Danes, right) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) are on a mission in the Middle East in the season opener of "Homeland," debuting Sunday night.

There's no place like "Homeland."

Deserving of the outstanding drama series Emmy award this year, "Homeland" returns (10 p.m. Sunday, Showtime) as riveting as ever and with all the proper components in place. The opener darts from here to there but never without reason made clear to the audience.

Weeks after the season one cliffhanger, "Homeland" finds Carrie (Emmy winner Claire Danes) putting her life together, albeit in a numbing state. The electro-shock therapy has done its job on her, and she's docile. Her days are spent domesticating, that fetching adventurous spirit fleeting from her eyes.

Meanwhile Brody (Damian Lewis) continues his climb up the political ladder. He's told he's the "future of the party" during this election year, though he has an agenda that the audience is still guessing about.

Whenever Saul (Mandy Patinkin) shows up, you can be assured it's a plot-moving device, and his arrival in the opener is not disappointing. Carrie soon finds herself wrapped up in another mission, creating one of the most compelling cat-and-mouse scenes of recent memory (although a berka-wearing Samantha's chase scene in "Sex and The City 2" kind of ruins the drama of the "Homeland" scenario).

"Homeland" is many things — complex and coy being foremost in the scripts and the performances. Season two promises not to stray from that.

Best of all, "Homeland" isn't just a spy story. It's built upon a collection of personal stories vital to the plot. If it was about the Carrie and Brody affair, "Homeland" would be another primetime soap.

With ties deeply felt between all the characters, "Homeland" is truly something more.

Score: 4 stars (out of five)

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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