Homeland is back for another exciting season, hitting Blu-ray about a month before the debut of its fifth season. Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin and Rupert Friend continue to star in the acclaimed espionage drama series. I say acclaimed, because following a third season that featured some strong performances, but a problematic storyline, this latest season feels like a return to form, despite some hiccups here or there. Now you can see for yourself, with this exciting Blu-ray release. Continue on to see more of what’s in store.
It will be hard not to spoil events of the previous seasons, but I am going to attempt to avoid mentioning some key elements. This season finds Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) working as a CIA station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan. Following an air strike, a chain of events are set off, which lead to the search for a survivor and possibly a terrorist initially thought to be taken out in the blast. Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) continue to find themselves involved with Carrie’s actions as well, which leads to some interesting turns involving the dedication to these sorts of missions and a consideration of what a life is truly worth when times become truly desperate.
This Blu-ray set includes all 12 episodes of the fourth season:
- The Drone Queen
- Trylon and Perisphere
- Iron in the Fire
- About a Boy
- From A to B and Back Again
- Halfway to a Donut
- There’s Something Else Going On
- 13 Hours in Islamabad
- Krieg Nicht Lieb
- Long Time Coming
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 previously described the series as 24 meets The Manchurian Candidate and The Conversation, but the series is heading more and more into being something like classy 24, since the series has more leeway on Showtime. 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 quite compelling. That said, this season does feature a lot of big action, despite having more of a sense of pacing, since there are only 12 episodes.
It does feel like a return to form for the most part, as this season seems more tightly scripted, with a lot of unneeded elements now having been eliminated, given what has transpired in the previous season. Danes, Patinkin and Friend all get a lot of great material to work with and the story’s focus never seems too far off. This is also a season that really gives way to a lot of great tension, thanks to some unpredictable moments that Homeland has always been good at delivering on.
Some issues do come up here and there, as the show continues to have some characters you not only love to hate, but others that you really just can’t stand. Some minor plot strands don’t always help things along either, but the biggest critique comes in the form of the season’s finale. After a fairly intense set of episodes leading to the end of the season, a conscious choice was made to head in a different direction for the end of the season. While somewhat effective for what it is trying to do, it does feel like the season that was quite strong ends on a bit of a whiff, instead of something more spectacular.
Regardless, fans of the series should be satisfied with how things playout on this exciting season. 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. I look forward to the completely new location lined up for season 5, but for now, this was a good step in the right direction.
Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Clarity/Detail: Homeland has always been a sharp and nicely defined series to watch on Blu-ray. There is a lot of great detail to take in, given the varying locales featured in this season, 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 dark 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, Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Dynamics: After a previous season that seemed a bit less powerful in terms of the visceral punch of the audio, season 4 roars to life, given all the action and it sounds very good on Blu-ray.
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 decent enough, but nothing all that substantial.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 10:52) – 7 deleted scenes from various episodes cobbled together into one segment.
- Character Profiles (HD, 16:56) – A look at a few of the characters featured in the series.
- Peter Quinn: The Assassin
- Asar Khan: The Lieutenant-Colonel
- Fara Sherazi: The Analyst
- Script To Screen (HD, 23:17) – A look at the development of the season, divided into three segments.
- Caught in the Crosshairs: Aayan’s Journey
- Brody’s Return
- Storming the Embassy
Season 4 was a solid return to form for Homeland. It may not be as great as the first season, but the changes made were a step in the right direction. 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 a few key characters.