CHARLOTTE, NC, December 11, 2015 – If fans of Homeland, the popular Showtime television series about the CIA and how it deals with terrorism, are paying attention, they are getting a superb primer on the inner workings of global jihad.
In an essay titled The Decay of Dying in 1889, Oscar Wilde wrote “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” However you look at it ,Homeland “gets it” by demonstrating just how nasty the terror business is on both sides.
In the most recent chapter (Season 5, Episode 10) called New Normal there is a particularly frightening, and fascinating scene, approximately 26 minutes into the show that shows how terrorism has advanced. The roughly two minute scene highlights the planning and pre-execution of a terror plot in Berlin that is being conducted by an extremist cell.
The plan is simple in concept, but well organized in a manner that focuses on just how prepared jihadists can be when it comes to carrying out an attack.
Perhaps most chilling aspect of this particular episode is that the fictionalized terrorist plan has not yet occurred in reality, but the potential is so plausible that it creates goose bumps of horror at the possibility.
Leading up the preparation scene, the cell sends out a televised video warning to the public demonstrating the effects of Sarin gas on human victims.
Later, another scene (referenced above) follows the terrorists as they go over final details of their attack. Two drums of Sarin gas will be placed at either end of a U-Bahn (subway) tunnel in Berlin. The drums are timed to explode just as a train passes through the entrance to a platform that will drop off and pick up passengers. By doing this, the draft of the train passing through the tunnel will actually spread the fumes of the gas for maximum destruction.
The Homeland attack is no cartoon superhero plot or elaborately flawed James Bond super-villain scheme that has no basis in reality. And that’s what makes the scene so scary, because it emphasizes how easy it would be to conduct such an attack.
Homeland is an Emmy award winning television drama that filmed its first three seasons in Charlotte, NC and the fourth season in South Africa. Season Five takes place in Berlin, Germany with an emphasis on the difficulties of obtaining “good” information in a world dominated by corruption, double agents and misdirection.
The focus of the first three seasons involved a love affair between a CIA agent played by Claire Danes, also one of the show’s executive producers, and an American soldier, portrayed by Damian Lewis, who had been reportedly converted to be an Islamic extremist. The hook was that viewers never knew for sure whether Lewis’ character was good or bad, which was actually a metaphor for the conflict many Westerners feel today when confronting the issue of “good Muslims vs bad Muslims.”
Season five has taken Homeland further into the realm of the inner workings of terrorism. Lewis is no longer a character thereby allowing the writers to explore various aspects of global jihad from a different perspective.
Some of the preseason publicity stated the current season was taking the show into the future. To a degree that may be true given that terrorism has yet to utilize chemical weapons in their attacks. But the realism and ease with which Homeland exposes the weaknesses of the West to deal with such executions is far close to home to dismiss.
One added bit of Homeland reality are the references to events actually taking place today in the news on a daily basis. Actors talk about Syria and Assad as if the current episodes have some mysterious crystal ball that sees events before they take place.
Whether shows such as Homeland are intriguing to viewers or not, this is one program that has done its homework and is eerily sending a message to the West that terrorism is not the work of some “jayvee team” merely “playing” at war.
Oscar Wilde had it right, and Homeland is proving it.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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