Homeland – "New Car Smell" Review/Recap [Spoilers]
Michael Mahin ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
“New Car Smell”, the fourth episode in Homeland‘s second season, is not only a welcome return to form from last week’s somewhat disappointing “State of Independence” but serves as further evidence that Homeland is, in fact, the best, and most daring, drama currently on television. This was a stunning, and shocking, episode of primetime adrenaline rush.
Picking up from last episode’s cathartic vindication of Carrie’s suspicions about Brody, “New Car Smell” begins with Saul showing the intended post-bombing footage of Brody to a shocked Estes. Saul and Estes agree to first spy on Brody, before arresting him, so in order to possibly gather intelligence about the ever elusive Abu Nazir. Carrie and her team, with the addition of newly introduced analyst Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), thus begin the process of surveilling Brody. Meanwhile, on the home front, Jessica remains frustrated with Brody, finally aware that he is keeping secrets from her. Jessica demands that Brody tell her the truth though Brody, unable to tell Jessica, refuses. She then tells Brody that he is not able to stay at the house. Brody promptly begins staying at a hotel.
Quinn asks Carrie to run into Brody so as to make him concerned enough to get into contact with his handler. Carrie thus runs into Brody, intimating that she is once again working with the CIA, which, as intended, makes Brody concerned that the CIA is once again concerned that Brody might be involved in a terrorist plot. Brody speaks with Roya Hammad of his concerns.
Meanwhile, Lauder once again expresses his frustration with the newly returned Brody, coming into the Brodys’ home and disrupting Jessica’s life. Unable to reach Brody, she calls Mike, her former lover, to help deal with Lauder. After removing Lauder from the Brodys’, Mike and Lauder talk of their suspicions concerning Brody’s behavior, linking him with a possible plot with the late Walker.
Additionally, Dana and Finn become increasingly close as they visit the Washington Monument together, eventually kissing. However, Dana claims that she cannot proceed further until breaking her relationship off with Xander.
Finally, the CIA team observes Brody as he sits in the hotel bar. Brody then calls Carrie, asking him to join her so as to “bury the hatchet.” Carrie agrees and the two meet at the bar, sharing a conversation about their respective lives. Brody, at one moment, asks Carrie about her electroconvulsive therapy. Carrie, visibly distressed, has difficulty talking about it and worries that she has blown her cover. After ending the conversation, Brody goes back to his hotel room. Carrie, dissatisfied with the meeting, ignores the commands of her CIA team to return to base and meets Brody at his hotel room. She then tells Brody that the CIA knows that he is a terrorist, just as the police burst in to arrest Brody.
“New Car Smell”, like season 2’s “Beirut is Back”, is a thrilling, game-changing episode which positions Homeland‘s writers and directors among the craftiest, most subtle, and most consistently intelligent working in the television industry. What made this episode so absorbing was, of course, the reuniting of Brody and Carrie, which was handled with characteristic subtlety and thoughtfulness. Writer Meredith Stiehm wisely avoids making Brody and Carrie’s interactions too melodramatic, capitalizing on the actors’ quiet electricity. The bar scene, flawlessly written and performed, was a wonderfully tense moment, proving that the show is equally adept at utilizing the suspense of character relationships as that of the unfolding action.
Additionally, performances this week were excellent, across the board. Though “New Car Smell” is less character-centric than last week’s episode, the actors all had wonderful individual moments, especially Carrie’s triumphant, and painful, final scene. Danes mines all of the joy, and frustration, felt by Carrie in her capture of Brody. Her concession that she does, in fact, “love” Brody is a wrenchingly performed by Danes.
In its final moments, “New Car Smell” once again reaffirms that Homeland is one engrossing, shocking and entertaining series.