Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as...

Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland, an American thriller television series premiering on Showtime Oct. 2, 2011. Credit: SHOWTIME


WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 10 p.m. on Showtime

REASON TO WATCH Adult spy suspenser delivers creepy personal, professional, political terms of endangerment.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT Claire Danes aces a CIA agent who's as comfortable sneaking into an Iraqi prison as she is picking up guys in D.C. bars. She doesn't mind going rogue, either, hiring surveillance guys to wire the house of a freed military prisoner, just returned to his wife and kids after eight torturous years in an Iraqi bunker. She's heard word that an American POW "has been turned," so while the brass is saluting Damian Lewis' Sgt. Nick Brody, Danes is watching him 24/7.

While she gets an eyeful, she works with a mind too full, thanks to a mood disorder that's got her gobbling pills. Which puts her on the same damaged plane as Lewis, who's being trotted around for PR purposes despite readjustment hiccups that hint at impending catastrophe.

MY SAY This is one killer cast -- the steely-curious Danes, who's wowed us since "My So-Called Life"; the cheery/chilling Lewis, from NBC's "Life" and HBO's "Band of Brothers"; CIA mentor Mandy Patinkin, in whom confrontational yet needy Danes stokes an inner rage that's electric; and dutiful Marine wife Morena Baccarin, from "V," trying to reconnect with a distant husband who exhibits numbness, niceness and inhuman disregard for her soul.

"Homeland's" first three episodes have plenty of sex and violence, and that's where revelations are stashed, when characters react in unsettling ways. Small moments that seem to set up one sort of denouement often lead to other destinations entirely.

That shouldn't be surprising from a crew that includes "24" producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. Showtime lets them take their time to spin serpentine story lines, gradually pulling us deep into one very sticky, scary web of intrigue.

BOTTOM LINE Home is where you land?


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