Cast: Claire Danes (Carrie Mathison), Mandy Patinkin (Saul Berenson), Linus Roache (David Wellington), Elizabeth Marvel (Elizabeth Keane), Maury Sterling (Max), Morgan Spector (Dante Allen), Jake Weber (Brett O’Keefe), Amy Hargreaves (Maggie), Courtney Grosbeck (Josie)
Airdate, time: Season seven premieres at 9 p.m. Sunday February 11 on Showtime
Season seven synopsis: At the end of last season, following an assassination attempt on her life, President Keane (Marvel) broke her promise to Carrie (Danes) by arresting 200 members of the intelligence community, including Saul Berenson (Patinkin), without bringing charges against them. As season seven begins, Carrie has left her job in the White House but is living with her sister Maggie (Amy Hargreaves) in D.C. She’s taking on the Keane administration and trying to secure the release of the 200.
What you can expect in the first episode of season seven (spoiler free):
1. We get to see a bit of Carrie’s new home life at the start of the episode. As you might expect, its a bit chaotic. Carrie’s sister Maggie makes a dig at her parenting, her brother-in-law works for the government which makes things awkward, and her niece is a politically involved, know-it-all teenager. I just hope the teenager, named Josie, isn’t a major player this season. This is a great series and doesn’t need another Dana Brody.
2. Elizabeth Keane is in full on autocrat mode. She’s insisting that the general who planned her failed assassination attempt be put in front of a firing squad and has detained 200 people without due process for almost two months. It’s an amazing turn from the wide eyed political neophyte we saw in the first half of season six.
3. “Homeland” always does a good job of staying relevant and the plot line for season seven looks to be no exception. An assistant for President Keane mentions that a special prosecutor may be appointed to look into her actions. We’ll see if that becomes a reality later this season.
4. Carrie is leaking information to a U.S. Senator about what’s going on in the Keane administration. The info is coming from someone in the intelligence community named Dante Allen. This character is played by Morgan Spector (“Person of Interest,” “The Mist”).
5. Talking head and shock jock Brett O’Keefe is on the run. There’s a warrant out for his arrest but he’s being helped by like-minded individuals who help him get his anti-Keane message out to the masses. Even if he has to do his show from the back of a mattress store, O’Keefe makes sure to spout his fire and brimstone.
6. There’s an incredibly tense few minutes in the middle of the episode. What makes it so unique is that there’s no gunfire, no running, and no action to speak of. It’s just Carrie trying to make a meeting happen and it getting blown. It feels like a true spy vs spy moment and was riveting despite the lack of physical action.
7. President Keane’s chief of staff, David Wellington, is under a lot of pressure. He’s really in a no-win situation. Trying to manage a hot headed president who doesn’t listen to good advice, Wellington gets talked down frequently despite trying to manage someone he can’t control. He turns to Saul for help, offering him a job with the administration.
8. Carrie is a lock to win yet another Mother of the Year Award. In a pinch she calls her niece Josie to help her out. Josie was babysitting Carrie’s daughter Franny at the time. Josie left Franny in the care of her boyfriend Jason. After being annoyed, Carrie quickly gets over it. Quality parenting right there.
9. Carrie’s sister Maggie brings up her mental health and they have a serious discussion about it. Considering everything that’s going on, Carrie’s conspiracy theories seem to be accurate but her history adds a shadow of doubt to everything. It was another great moment that tied the show’s fiction to current events.
10. The ending of the episode is a bit of shock. I won’t give anything away but it certainly demonstrates how powerful and ruthless President Keane is.
That’s about all I can spill without giving too many secrets away and I refuse to play spoiler. I love how this series continues to push the envelope and Claire Danes is superb yet again. I’m looking forward to seeing how this season develops.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a member of the Television Critics Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @terryterrones.