Homeland: 10 Reasons It Terrifies Us

8. We Feel The Pull Of Revenge Amid Uncertainty

Homeland1 In compelling dramas like Homeland, we often find ourselves caught up in the spirit of split loyalties. A character who is at first a hero becomes a villain€”the villain later a hero. In season 1 Nicholas Brody plots revenge against Vice President Bill Walden through a complicated reprogramming of Walden's pacemaker (Interestingly, Politico reported on this same scenario that was considered within the inner circles of Vice President Dick Cheney). Initially, we might view Brody's plans as we would those of any other terrorist, but when more and more backstory is given to Nicholas Brody, we began to understand (though not accept) Brody's desire to seek revenge for the death of Issa Nazir€”the boy that he loved like a son. What makes Homeland's pull of revenge so compelling is the uncertainty that accompanies it. Each season offers us the sense that any act€”whether one of revenge or a simple act of intelligence gathering€”is conditioned by the unsettling fact that the justification for the act may be a fleeting one. The midpoint of season 3 offers such a focus with the Javadi plot. As Carrie questions Javadi about Brody's involvement in the CIA bombing, she begins to sense that Brody may be innocent after all. After this conversation, Carrie is left undoubtedly feeling more ambiguity than certainty about her actions (and those of others) in the show. As many of the other points in this feature suggest, we never fully know the Truth. This Nietzschean focus of Homeland is psychologically gripping. While many spa dramas stress a clearer sense of good and evil, Homeland takes the route of shows like the Wire and instead forces us to consider the ambiguity and uncertainty that is present in the world of the show and, presumably, in our own everyday lives.

Scott A. Lukas has taught anthropology and sociology Lake Tahoe Community College for sixteen years and in 2013 was Visiting Professor of American Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. He has been recognized with the McGraw-Hill Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching of Anthropology by the American Anthropological Association (2005), the California Hayward Award for Excellence in Education (2003), and a Sierra Arts Foundation Artist Grant Program Award in Literary–Professional (2009). In 2006, he was a nominee to the California Community College Board of Governors. He is the author/editor of The Immersive Worlds Handbook (2012), Theme Park (2008), The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nature, and Self (2007), Fear, Cultural Anxiety, and Transformation: Horror, Science Fiction, and Fantasy Films Remade, (co-edited with John Marmysz, 2009), Recent Developments in Criminological Theory (co-edited with Stuart Henry, 2009), and Strategies in Teaching Anthropology (2010). His book Theme Park was recently translated into Arabic. He appeared in the documentary The Nature of Existence and has provided interviews for To the Best of Our Knowledge, The Huffington Post UK, The Daily Beast, The Washington Post, and Caravan (India).