Strengths and weaknesses

‘Broadchurch’ begins Season 3; ‘Homeland’ ends Season 6

‘Broadchurch’ (photo credit: PR)
(photo credit: PR)
Season Three of the enormously popular British crime drama Broadchurch is scheduled to begin on April 26 on HOT Xtra VOD. David Tennant and Olivia Colman will be back as DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller, and the show is set three years after the end of the second season.
While the first two seasons of this suspenseful series, created by Chris Chibnall, dealt with the murder of an 11-year-old boy and how its aftermath tore apart a small seaside community, the third season is about a brutal sexual assault on a middleaged woman, Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh, best known for Coronation Street). The series uses this crime, its victim and the police investigation to explore issues related to women and sexual violence. But while the show doesn’t shy away from sensitive issues, at heart it’s a police procedural that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Due to early deadlines for the Passover holiday, I won’t be able to write about the finale of Girls yet, but I can comment on the Season Six finale of Homeland.
Troubled former CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is a character I find so likable, that I will watch Homeland till the last minute of its last episode. Sadly, though, as I look back on this season, which is set in New York and deals with conflicts between a president-elect and the intelligence community, it’s clear that it was the weakest one yet.
The series writers have tried hard to stay topical, but it didn’t work.
It’s stating the obvious to say that our current reality is much more far-fetched and bizarre than anything the Homeland creators have been able to come up with.
They tried to play it both ways by having the president-elect, Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), resemble Hillary Clinton superficially — she wears pantsuits — but also to have her be a maverick, outsider figure, albeit an astronomically more focused, knowledgeable and restrained one than the actual current US president.
Homeland generally features one crazy plot turn per season that strains credulity but makes the series fun to watch. This season, it was the assassination plot against President Keane. I could understand that Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and his shadowy CIA minions wanted to intimidate her into resigning by using the tools of his trade, in this case fake news about her son who was killed in action in Iraq. But would the intelligence community really conspire to try to assassinate her? Why? Because she is skeptical about whether Iran is honoring its deal to stop producing nuclear weapons? Her position has never sounded very different from that of many US senators and congresspeople. Interestingly, the series never gave a clear idea of who Keane defeated and how her rival would have been so much more to their liking.
Much of Homeland has always seemed designed to illuminate the line from Roman Polanski’s film Chinatown, “Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of anything.” The real subtext of this series, what makes us tune in season after season, is not its take on the war on terror but its commitment to proving that Chinatown point. The heroines and heroes of Homeland have had to face just that fact, over and over. They are capable of killing, treachery and selfdestructive acts that can cause harm to those they love the most.
But until this season, their inner conflicts played out next to a backdrop of plots that made sense dramatically, even if they were farfetched.
But now, when the main focus of the season’s drama makes no sense, it is disheartening.
And, worst of all, the series has become something I never imagined it would be: dull. And its dullness was especially troubling when compared to the disturbing but riveting real-life drama of the new US president and his aides as they began to govern.
Homeland will be back next year — it has been renewed for two seasons — but I’d love to see it take a new direction next season.