Another year, another exciting season of Homeland that came back in top form for another exciting season. This fifth season of the acclaimed Showtime series is here just in time for the premiere of season six and it would be a good time to catch up. Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Rupert Friend continue to star in the espionage drama series. For the fifth season, it is good to note how season four brought things back to a solid standard and this fifth season really sees the show delivering some of the best stuff since the earlier years, thanks to a change of setting and more. Now you can see for yourself, with this Blu-ray release. Continue on to see more of what’s in store for you, Carrie Mathison and the gang.
As usual, I will tread lightly, but there are some mild spoilers here in order to explain the setup for this season. So season five finds Carrie Mathison (Danes) no longer working for the CIA. Instead, she is working at a private security firm in Berlin, attempting to start a new life. Some unexpected developments bring Saul Berenson (Patinkin) and Peter Quinn (Friend) back into Carrie’s life, as she begins to uncover a deadly conspiracy that will put many lives at risk. This all leads to some interesting turns that also involve actors F. Murray Abraham, Miranda Otto and Sebastian Koch; not to mention some plotlines inspired by ISIS and Edward Snowden.
This Blu-ray set includes all 12 episodes of the second season:
- Separation Anxiety
- The Tradition of Hospitality
- Super Powers
- Why Is This Night Different
- Better Call Saul
- All About Allison
- The Litivinov Ruse
- New Normal
- Our Man in Damascus
- A False Glimmer
Homeland was originally based on an Israel series, Prisoners of War, and was developed for American television by Howard Gordan and Alex Gansa, both of whom were previously involved with 24. I have been describing this series as 24 meets The Manchurian Candidate and The Conversation, even as the series has morphed into something more along the lines of a classy 24, given the room to play on Showtime, compared to basic cable. Like 24, Homeland has its moments of characters screaming at each other about where the terrorists are and what not, but Homeland is also very willing to play a lot of things very close to the chest, which makes these characters and their choices all the more compelling. That said, this season does feature its share of action, spy moments, twists and more.
What really works is the change in location. While we are still dealing with plotlines involving terrorists and potential attacks, placing the production in Berlin really gives the series a new sense of energy. Adding to that a plotline centered around privacy laws and other related ideas and you have a season primed to really dig into current-day themes, while still delivering on what one expects from Homeland. With that in mind, the cast is as committed as ever. Danes earned another well-deserved Emmy nomination, as she is continually strong in the lead role. Patinkin continues to excel as well, finding new shades to bring to his role. There’s also strong work from the new cast members, such as Otto and Koch as well.
Sadly, the only area where this season faltered is with the character of Quinn. While Friend is quite great in the role and he gets a lot to do, the amount of events he is put through become a bit ridiculous. It’s a bit of a shame, as one can see what the show is getting at, but it essentially has to stretch out what is going on with him, in order to keep him around, while the rest of the plot is in motion. All of that in mind, this episode doesn’t fumble the finale in the same way last season did and we are actually set up for what could be a really good sixth season.
Fans of the series should be satisfied with how things playout on this exciting season. Small problems aside, this is a really strong season of the long-running series. There is a lot of great espionage-based elements, the acting continues to be quite terrific and there is a level of intensity that is easily accomplished on a show as polished as this one. Next season plans to take things back to the United States, we’ll see if that works out as well as it did with the change to Berlin.
Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: Homeland continues to be a sharp and nicely defined series to watch on Blu-ray. There is a lot of great detail to take in and this season has a lot to offer thanks to the use of Berlin as a great background character, let alone things like costume design and the various aspects of the CIA settings, etc. All of this comes through nice and clear.
Depth: There are aspects of the different journeys of each character that allow for some interesting uses of depth here, which is handled well.
Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky in this Blu-ray presentation.
Color Reproduction: Colors continue to be accurate and well suited to the series, when put into play. Given the different locations, there are some key moments that play quite well in regards to the use of color, which is fine for a series like this.
Flesh Tones: Things like lighting, locations, and other aspects keep the characters in constant flux, but textures and flesh tones always come through quite well.
Noise/Artifacts: Nothing of note here.
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Dynamics: There are a few big action moments that really help to deliver the noise, in addition to the strong work to make this character-driven show really sound great.
Low Frequency Extension: When the LFE channel is given the chance to go to work, this Blu-ray does a fine job of allowing the subwoofer to leave an impact.
Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels do their job in enveloping the viewer throughout every episode. The ambience, score, action, and dialogue are all balanced quite well, making for a solid three-dimensional experience.
Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear, whether people are talking or yelling.
The extra features for this season can all be found on the third disc in this set. There are no commentary tracks and the features presented are few in number, but decent to watch. Still, that’s no real excuse not to provide something more worthwhile for fans.
- The Evolution of Carrie Mathison (HD, 10:56) – A feature that tracks the journey of Danes’ role from the first season to the present.
- Homeland in Berlin: Beyond the Wall (HD, 9:30) – This feature focuses on the use of Berlin as the main setting of the season.
Season five put the show back into a strong position, as this is some of the best we’ve seen of the show in some time. It may not be as great as the first season (few seasons can be), but the changes made really gave new life to the series. This Blu-ray is good enough, as the technical presentation is great. I only wish there were more extra features offered. Fans will certainly enjoy this season though, even with the lack of more extras to dig into.