On September 29, Showtime’s Homeland returns for a third season of stories about Iraq War veteran and secret terrorist Nicholas Brody and the troubled CIA agent Carrie Matheson who is pursuing him, professionally and romantically. Developed by some of the same people that worked on Fox’s 24, it’s a sort of post-9/11 update of that tale of terror and torture. It is also President Obama’s favorite program.

In Homeland the official terrorists are all radical Islamists, natch (which leads to the absurd pairing of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah in Beirut). The spectacular acts attributed to Al Qaeda on U.S. soil certainly mark Homeland as the fiction it is; the real terrorist network isn’t nearly so impressive. The operational capabilities of U.S. security services, meanwhile, are understated.

The motivations of both sides in the drama, however, are less morally one-dimensional than usual for a television show about terrorism, a welcome change. —Ed Krayewski