For “Homeland” viewers, it’s the moment we’ve been waiting for, the second season of the Emmy award-winning psychological thriller loosely based on the Israeli drama “Hatufim” (“Prisoners of War”). No spoiler alert necessary here (episodes one and two of the new season have already aired in the US, and will be shown on Israel’s YES satellite channel on Thursday and Saturday nights), but we can say that the first episode opens in Beirut, Lebanon, a.k.a. Tel Aviv, with Israeli actors Yael Sharoni and Jonah Lotan sharing the screen with Mandy Patinkin, in his role as CIA Middle East Division Chief Saul Berenson.
In one of those ironic television moments that imitates life (or at least possible life), Sharoni and Lotan play two CIA agents working with Patinkin following Israel’s bombing of five Iranian nuclear facilities. They have about seven minutes total onscreen — Lotan gets a little more time when he drives Berenson to his next location — but it’s a thrilling stretch for those who are fans of Sharoni’s most recent work as the beloved Yifat on “Srugim,” the recently canceled Israeli drama about religious singles living in Jerusalem.
Sharoni has a barely detectable accent when speaking English, while Lotan, who lives in the US, has a more solidly American accent. According to Sharoni’s agent, Merav NirPaz at the Zohar Yakovson Agency, the role was small and it’s not clear if there will be more work in the future for Sharoni on “Homeland.” The actress is about to give birth to her second child, and wasn’t available for an interview.
In addition to Lotan and Sharoni, Israeli actor Clara Khoury, known for her comedic role in Israeli sitcom “Arab Labor” (“Avoda Aravit”), plays a Muslim woman who may have significant information for the CIA agents.
Besides finding out whether CIA agent Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, comes back from the brink of mental madness, and figuring out the next move for former prisoner of war and US Marine Nicholas Brody, played by Damian Lewis, local viewers could figure out where the Beirut-set scenes were filmed.
Given that the cast was here last May for filming, it was easy enough to identify the narrow streets of Jaffa where Berenson/Patinkin tries to shake off some pursuers. But it was more difficult to name the presumably Tel Aviv, Bauhaus-era building staged as the U.S. Consulate in Beirut, where Patinkin, Sharoni and Lotan spoke for the first part of the show.
Enquiring minds want to know. But for now, we’ll settle for the next episodes.