“Homeland”: New Car Smell Review

Wow.  Two weeks ago (for anyone who somehow forgot) we got a massive reveal.  Then last week “Homeland” backed off a bit, making me scared they’d have to spend the rest of the season continuing to implicate Brody.  With “New Car Smell,” as the title, I sort of figured we’d get more of this as maybe Brody would try to start anew.  The results couldn’t be further off, as “Homeland” outdid even it’s normal self to be one of the most satisfying episodes (and endings) I’ve seen in a long time.

And yes, this was still only the 4th episode!

With Saul back in America, he went directly to Estes’ home and showed him the video, where the two of them weighed their options and decided to monitor Brody as a way to get to Abu Nazir.  From a storytelling standpoint, it seemed like a gimmick to keep Brody (and Damian Lewis) in the show.  Of course they’re not going to arrest him, then where would we go?  Right?  RIGHT!?  At that moment, they continued to keep him under wraps.

Brody, meanwhile, continued to fight with Jess and got kicked out.  Mike, of course, came to Jess’ rescue, but even he grew increasingly suspicious – especially since a drunk Lauder (Marc Menchaca) essentially put the pieces together.

What Brody didn’t know, though, was that there was an undercover surveillance detail on his every move.  Saul, Estes, and Carrie were behind it, but Virgil (David Marciano) and Max (Maury Sterling) were back, too.  We also get introduced to a new character named Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), who is a very blunt agent who sort of serves as the show’s new “wildcard.”  Since he’s still relatively unknown, he could go a few directions…or mean nothing at all.

In order to spook Brody, they decided to rattle his cage by having Carrie appear.  I think I’ve said this before, but it’s amazing we can have such a hit show with two powerhouse characters that don’t really cross paths.  Making them “fall in love” last year seemed a little cliche, but the payoff was worth it.  Now this year, Carrie and Brody haven’t been in the same location.  Until now.

And their chemistry just came flooding back.  To the point that I was happy when the exiled Brody called her up to visit his hotel.  Part of me thought it’d rekindle whatever messed up relationship they had, but even if it did, the tension would be amazing.  Then “Homeland” took it to a level I wasn’t expecting.

After Brody and Carrie talked about the fallout (her EST), he retired to his hotel room and she, against everyone’s (including mine) best judgments, followed him up there.  Was she there to booty call him?  Or was she there to arrest him?

We all know which would give her the most satisfaction.

For all the TV out there that drags a story for episodes on end, I still had this sneaky suspicion “Homeland” would fall into the trap.  To my surprise, Carrie turns the tables and told him what we all thought she wouldn’t: the truth.  And the truth is that Brody is a traitor and disgrace to his country.  As the authorities busted into his room, chills shot down my back as Claire Danes earned her back-to-back Emmy.   It’s the type of scene that makes you want to re-watch it right away (something I did), and it’s the type of scene that defines a show.

And once again, we still have 8 more episodes…in this season!

Of course, there are still ways “Homeland,” can keep Brody relevant.  A popular theory (and one I could definitely see happening) is turning him into a triple agent.  Put him in the field to find Abu Nazir for good.  Season 1 was all about the ambiguity of Brody’s character and putting him out there as a triple agent would compound this.  It certainly has the most potential…even if it’s sort of a storytelling trick.

But, I’ll be cautious because this hasn’t actually happened yet.  What has happened, though, is “Homeland” has delivered one heck of an episode and immediately made their case for best current television show.  Does it still have legs to continue?  I really should quit questioning it.

Of course they do.

Rating: A


*I was so infatuated with the Carrie/Brody stuff that I barely mentioned the side stories.  I quickly touched on Jess/Mike/Lauder, but Dana was the other one with significant scenes.  From an audience standpoint, it’s so tough seeing her reconcile with what she knows about her dad.  Of all the people that will suffer if (or when) the truth comes out, Dana probably has the most dangerous potential.

*Was Brody’s comparison to JFK foreshadowing?  A bullet to the brain doesn’t seem like a bad prediction right about now.

*Lastly, how does Roya (Zuleikha Robinson) play into all this?  She’s basically the middleman between the White House and the Middle East, but will Brody immediately give her up?  Or does he have a trick up his sleeve, too?  All these questions are valuable…and make the anticipation that much greater.

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