I tapped out of watching Homeland sometime during its second season. The storyline with Brody (Damian Lewis) felt like it was running on longer than it should have and I just wasn't feeling the enthusiasm for it that had me rabid during season one. I washed my hands of it and got on with other TV pursuits.
Except, I never felt like I was entirely done with the show. Friends and critics every so often mentioned that they were still watching and there was a small niggling concern that I couldn't shake: maybe I'm missing out on something.
But, you can't just start watching a show in the middle anymore... can you? Years of DVD and streaming bingeing has trained my brain to believe that you start with season one, episode one and you watch from there.
Homeland season 7 has changed my ways. Not only can you pick up and start watching Homeland from the first episode of season 7, but you might be better off for not having stuck through some of those middle seasons.
If you have stuck with it and need a refresher on what happened last season, or you are one of THOSE people who want to do your research and try to better understand what has happened so far, Gavin Scott has put together this useful guide to '9 things you need to remember before watching Homeland season 7'.
I say you don't need it. But you may have some questions.
Can I really just dive in without having seen it for a few years?
I haven't watched for the last six years and kept up just fine. And the couple of little things I didn't quite get? I'm positive that by episode 2 or 3, I'll be well over that hurdle. It's a complex show, but it isn't a complicated show.
How much international espionage is going on? That is always complicated...
Yes, this is a spy drama, but everything is now taking place on US soil.
Former CIA analyst Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) is working to undermine the forces that have taken over the US Government - malfeasance that starts in the oval office.
But without worrying about the particulars, what makes the show fun and easy to watch is that Homeland revels in everything that makes the genre fun. It's all about spycraft! Secret meetings in kitchens, hidden messages on community message boards, shadowy meetings in carparks, burner phones... Homeland has it all.
How much is the show reflecting the real world?
The best storytelling always has something to say about the times we live in. Homeland started in a post-Osama bin Laden world. The al-Qaeda founder had been killed earlier that year, but the US were still wary of terrorist threats. Seven years on, those concerns remain, but the attention of the nation has shifted to home-grown concerns. The rise of nationalism, a President stoking the fires of hate groups, and the influence of new and traditional media on what had previously been alternative sentiment.
Homeland is focused this season on all of that. Even if you don't quite know much about the specific events in the show, you know enough about what's been happening in the real world to get the idea.
The show even has an Alex Jones-like figure who is on the run from the police, streaming video messages to his audience about the 'truth'.
What are the critics saying?
"The question, as the seventh season begins, is what happens when the world becomes too crazy to be processed by anybody deemed conventionally sane? Many people in our real world struggle with the idea that listing the various news cycles for any given week makes them sound crazy, and the same is true in the world of Homeland. The America of Homeland has become the Land of the Blind and it's possible that Carrie Mathison's one-eyed woman is our only hope. Again."
-Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"Whether anything comes of the Russia investigation or not, viewers needs to see the intelligence community fight back against a fascist administration. The world needs Carrie right now. Let her loose."
-Ben Travers, Indiewire
Homeland airs exclusively on SBS on Friday nights at 8:30pm, and streaming anytime after broadcast at SBS On Demand.