Homeland hopes to break new ground

After Claire Danes claimed her second straight Emmy for best actress in a drama last Sunday, she mused that her role as the brilliant bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison in Homeland was a "good gig" that she hopes "lasts a while".

The third season of Homeland, however, has its challenges after a second season that underwhelmed critics.

After winning six Emmys last year, including best drama series, and best actor and actress in a drama, Homeland walked away this year with just two trophies out of 11 nominations.

The first season, adapted from an Israeli series, captured viewers with its complex characters and plots that resonated with real terrorism fears among the American public. Even President Barack Obama declared himself to be a fan.

But the second season saw a backlash against what many critics viewed as improbable plot twists around Carrie and Brody, the rescued POW turned al-Qaeda agent played by British actor Damian Lewis.

Last year's season finale managed to claw back some of the credibility with the show ending with the bombing of CIA headquarters that killed 200. Brody, a Congressman and double-agent for the CIA, was forced to run, ripping apart his plans with Carrie to begin a life together.

Season three is expected to be darker than before and starts with an erratic Carrie off her medication but with a zeal to get to the bottom of the bombing with her boss and confidant, acting CIA Director Saul Berenson, played by Mandy Patinkin.

The co-creators of the show, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, who worked together on 24, said that in writing the third season, they were influenced by the Congressional investigation into the September 11, 2012, attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

But the storyline that may keep viewers coming back in season three is the fate of Brody. "TV audiences are so literate now," Lewis told a television critics' meeting. "They're so good at guessing plot and what's going to happen next."

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