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Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 2)= Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland (Season 2, Episode 2).=

season premieres

Where Homeland Left Off, and Where We Hope It Does and Doesn’t Go

Homeland returns on Sunday, fresh off Emmy wins for best drama, best actor, and best actress. Not a bad way to start a sophomore season. The Showtime drama subverts or defies most of our abilities to predict what will happen, but that doesn't mean we can't hope for certain things. Before jumping back into the show, let's revisit our favorite terrorists and counterterrorists — and our dreams for where their stories take them this season.

Carrie
Where she left off: The CIA placed her on administrative leave, which Saul said meant her days with the agency were over, and her work was discredited to the point that no one believed her crazywall's worth of color-coded evidence. She pieced together that Brody really is a terrorist and tried to plead with his daughter Dana, but that just landed her in jail. Disgraced, desperate, and unemployed, she decided to undergo electroconvulsive therapy to treat her bipolar disorder. And then, just before the first shock that would jangle her short-term memory, she remembered how Brody had once cried out "Issa" (the name of terrorist mastermind Abu Nazir's late son, killed in an American drone attack) in his sleep. She was just about to connect the dots that Issa's death had radicalized Brody when zap. But maybe she'll remember?
Where we hope she's headed: Stability and health, of course! And somewhere within the vicinity of Saul and Brody.
Where we hope she's not headed: Back to the CIA. There's no show if Carrie's not attempting to thwart terrorism plots, but a huge chunk of Homeland's effectiveness as a drama is its credibility — and there's just no way Carrie could get her old job back.

Brody
Where he left off: He was all set to detonate his suicide bomb — which would have killed him, the vice-president, and a slew of other political assets holed up in bunker — but it didn't go off. Just before take two, Brody's daughter Dana called him and obliquely convinced him not to go through with the bombing. He did, however, go through with killing his former Marine buddy and fellow brainwashed terrorist sleeper Tom Walker, all at Abu Nazir's request.
Where we hope he's headed: Somewhere mysterious. Brody's the character on the show who knows more than the audience does: We learn most things when Carrie learns them, or sometimes when she explains them to Saul. But there's still a lot of mystery in Brody's backstory, in what exactly happened while he was a prisoner of war, in who he was before he became a Marine. This powerful sense of not knowing is one of the sweet agonies of the show. We still don't even know the extent of what's on his now-missing suicide video.
Where we hope he's not headed: Prison. The show would never keep him in prison for very long, and fake-outs are the worst.

Saul
Where he left off: Watching his protégé and daughter figure subject herself to electroconvulsive therapy. He was also livid when he found out CIA bossman David Estes and the VP had authorized the drone strike that killed Issa and 81 other children.
Where we hope he's headed: To the field. We've seen Saul comfort and counsel Carrie, but there was also a time when it seemed like Saul was maybe another mole; the show made us suspect that he had allowed Hamid, a terrorist in custody, to commit suicide. We want more Saul backstory! Or … front story! More Saul is what we're saying.
Where we hope he's not headed: To being Carrie's cheerleader. He loves her, he wants what's best for her, but he can't just bounce right back from the shock and pain of watching her spin out of control at the end of last season. As much as we want Saul to have Carrie's back, something fractured in their relationship, and they both need time to acknowledge that, let alone overcome it.

Dana
Where she left off
: Dana just discovered that her father is a practicing Muslim, and she saved him from going through with a suicide bombing when she called him and begged him to return home. (She called at Carrie's seemingly crazed request.)
Where we hope she's headed: Pretty much right where she is. Dana's the most honest character on the show, partially because she doesn't have particularly refined skills of deception, and even more so because she's not in denial. It is weird to have your father come home after being gone for so long; it is annoying to have to restructure your life again. Dana might be sulky, but she's not actively trying to lie anyone — unlike everyone else.
Where we hope she's not headed: Into her dumb boyfriend Xander's arms. If we wanted to watch pouty teens and their beaus, we'd watch Modern Family.

Everyone else
Where they left off
: In a world of corruption, lies, violence, and religious strife!
Where we hope they're headed: Somewhere not too villainous and not too dopey. So far, Vice-President Walker has been almost mustache-twirlingly evil, and we'd rather see him have some more depth, in keeping with Homeland's affinity for gray areas. Brody's wife Jessica hasn't stood up for herself quite enough, so now that the initial shock of Brody's return has waned, might they belong in some marriage counseling? Plus there are Brody's Marine pals, the rest of the CIA officers, Brody's son Nicholas, Abu Nazir, and a handful of government officials.
Where we hope they're not headed: 24. Remember how good the first season of 24 was, and then how quickly it lost its luster? It wasn't that Jack Bauer himself suddenly sucked, it's that everything else seemed to lose its potency. (Then Jack Bauer started sucking.)

Photo: Ronen Akerman/Showtime