Mandy Patinkin is Saul Berenson

As former CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) fades into an anaesthesia-induced sleep before undertaking shock therapy to help address her bi-polar disorder, she connected the dots. She realised that Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) had been playing everyone for a fool – that he had indeed been turned and was working for Al-Qaeda, and the realisation that Brody knew the son of Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban) that had been killed by the US-authorised strike on a school in Iraq while he was a prisoner of war was the connection. She stirred from her sleep to speak the thoughts so someone would remind her… she only knew because Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) had given her the last morsel of intel she needed… and it was ignored, she drifted off, and the treatment began.

If you’ve not been paying attention to Homeland then you’ve been missing out. Without question, Homeland has been the finest drama we’ve seen on Australian television this year. With elements of The West Wing, 24 and the Bourne series playing through out, it’s been the note perfect performances from Danes, Brody and Patinkin as the central cast in this labyrinthine series that has ensured devotees tuned back in week on week.

It wasn’t always big revelations or twists that hallmarked the episodes. Some where procedural in nature and necessary to progress the plot, though still each ep offered something new. While the viewer was privvy to both sides of the conversation and able to see developments on one side before the other, the investment in the characters meant emotional standpoints shifted and changed as new information was revealed. Brody couldn’t have turned; maybe he has; he couldn’t be working with the other guy; maybe he is.

It built across the entire 12 episodes of season one, and through some deft story-telling and sleight-of-hand the final episode reveals the true intentions and identity of Brody in the overall arc – and then he doesn’t go through with it. He convinces Nazir that his new position would provide opportunity to influence policy at the highest level. Simply killing the Vice-President now would be counter productive.

Danes’s portrayal as the broken Carrie was strong and carried deep empathy across the entire series. We all knew there was something not right with the CIA operative early on and Danes kept that doubt ticking over in our minds (her wide eyes in her manic moments made it even more eerie). Brody’s ever calm exterior battling a broken inner-man was subtle and controlled from Lewis ensured we became immediately attached to the Marine which meant as each revelation took place the personal betrayal to the viewer was palpable.

Patinkin was again the understated gem. The perfectly pitched note that breaks the silence. Saul Berenson is delivered as a man who has given up everything to serve his country, a man who knows how far the enemy will go to strike, a man who has trusted Carrie implicitly and has been betrayed but can’t give up on her as he knows she’s one of the best. He’s flawed, connected, subtle and yet he knows which buttons to push to get stuff done or across his desk. Patinkin’s Berenson shows that you don’t have to be the loudest or most gung-ho to be the one in charge when it come to running militaristic situations. Absolute genius.

The supporting cast are not slackers either. Morena Baccarin as Brody’s wife was vulnerable and suitably conflicted over the return of her hero husband and adjusting to life with him again after moving on to his best friend Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) – who is also good as the career soldier who moved on and in while Brody was presumed lost. David Harewood as Carrie’s boss was determined and strong, and a distinct counterpoint to Berenson in their many discussions and conflicts through the series.

Season 2 has already been commissioned and is to commence on Showtime in the US September 30, 2012. Channel 10 are yet to advise if they’ll be delivering the series promptly after it airs overseas or just how long Australia will have to wait for the continuation of this excellent series. Don’t make us wait please, Ten.