What is ‘Homeland’ up to?

Homeland_Season_4_castIf you’re a rabid consumer of TV and movies the way that I am, you might have heard how the show “Homeland” has decided to approach it’s fifth season. A time jump. To be more specific, a 2.5 year time jump.

I’m not sure if people remember this, but “Homeland” has done this before. Carrie was in the early stages of her pregnancy at the end of season 3, and in the beginning of season 4, had a small infant. I would say the time jump there made more sense because pregnancy story lines are largely anchoring in a story like this one, that depends on Carrie’s dynamic character and physicality. A pregnancy would only slow the story down, so I’m glad that they chose to skip ahead.

This time jump, however, seems to be strange considering how we left off season 4. (If you haven’t watched all of season 4 of “Homeland,” stop reading now!) Carrie returns from Islamabad permanently, attends her father’s funeral (played by the dynamite James Rebhorn) and starts a romance with Quinn. Saul might venture back into the directorship of the CIA, but approved a shady deal with Dar Adal regarding Haqqani, the primary antagonist in season 4. The deal causes Carrie to leave Saul and Dar Adal in disgust. Quinn leaves on a mission in Syria. He leaves Carrie a letter! There’s so much content to work with!

Television seems to be favoring the time jump story more and more lately. The most recent and most satisfying one in recent memory is “Parks and Recreation” (another skipped pregnancy story line, by the way), which skipped 3 years ahead to find Ben and Leslie parents of three children and Leslie in a major fight with Ron (which is resolved almost instantaneously). We all remember “Mad Men,” right? Who can forget Fat Betty Francis? “Weeds” used a time jump to neatly wrap up things for Nancy Botwin-Scottson-Reyes and the rest of the Botwin clan. The latter two examples show how TV shows use time jumps in different, but largely unsatisfying ways. Time jumps are, at their essence, missed storytelling opportunities.

Despite all of this, the premise of a show as dynamic and interesting as “Homeland” returning to television is always exciting! Let’s hope they use the time jump to their advantage.

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