HOMELAND Recap: “New Car Smell”

     October 21, 2012


Finally it was a quieter week on the Homeland front, which more or less equates to me having two or fewer strokes during the episode. “New Car Smell” was the payoff for this season’s biggest revelation (which I will discuss more after the spoiler jump).  Aside from all of the Carrie and Brody action, we spent a lot of time this week with Dana, who is probably one of the most (if not the most) naturally portrayed teenager on TV today.  Her circumstances can be extraordinary (like going up to the top of the Washington Monument at night because you’re flirting with the Vice President’s son), but her character somehow remains grounded.  She’s sulky and petulant, but she’s also sincere and mature.  Her relationship with Xander is, naturally, crumbling as she gets to know Finn better, and strangely that storyline remains interesting despite everything else going on.  It also is a reminder that Brody is not disposable as a character, because we have too much invested in not only him but his family.  For more on that and why this is not a booty call, hit the jump.

homeland-beirut-is-back-claire-danesBrody’s capture came a lot quicker than I think most of us would have expected.  Carrie is back with the CIA for what may literally be one day before she’s already running ops regarding Brody, and eventually meeting up with him for drinks.  Did Brody “make” Carrie?  He definitely fell into their trap of suspicion when he saw her at the CIA, and I think that he also knows if she’s close to Abu Nazir (or thinks she is) that she’s close to him.  He can’t possible have guessed of course that they all know about his video tape, the discovery of which is most certainly, as mentioned above, this season’s biggest reveal.

In the final moments of “New Car Smell” when Brody was being hooded, I couldn’t help but theorize what might come next.  Could Brody be turned into a triple agent and sent back out into the wild?  Would Jess be clued in to his CIA involvement to get them back together?  How far can this reasonably go?

When Homeland won the Emmy for Best Drama, there were many critics who said that it certainly should have won, but also that it may be the show’s only chance.  Despite its kickass first season, it’s a show whose premise doesn’t seem poised to last long without trouble, particularly late into the second (and certainly third) seasons.  I was one of those skeptics who doubted, but in the first four episodes of this new season I have been blown away with how the series has still managed to stay so twisted and so engaging.

homeland-the-smile-damien-lewisBrody being captured by the CIA with irrefutable evidence of his guilt leaves only a few places for the show to go, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing (because I absolutely trust the writers), there’s a fear that it could ultimately have Twin Peaks syndrome, wherein after the central mystery is solved (or in Homeland‘s case, Abu Nazir is captured or Brody comes clean) that it will lose all of its force.

I don’t want to get pessimistic, though — there’s an interesting subplot developing with the alcoholic Lauder who has finally gained the attention of Mike regarding what actually happened to Brody and Tom Walker in Afghanistan, and what that day where Walker killed Elizabeth Gates was all about.  Like Carrie, Lauder is a man whose afflictions cast a shadow over his truths.  Carrie could easily be dismissed as “crazy” (until of course she was proved right), just like Lauder is mostly dismissed as being a drunk and, let’s face it, a bit of an asshole.  Though Lauder and Mike only have their suspicions and circumstantial evidence (“Brody is acting weird”) right now to consider the fringes of the story, their involvement will surely become more important as things move along.

This week we also met a new character, Peter Quinn, who does a great impression of a robot.  He seems to lack manners but is (to quote him) “very reliable.”  His alliance with Carrie could be of interest, though I’m not sure yet if it would make a good romance.  Anything to get her off of Brody, which, despite her final rant to him I believe she still has feelings for (and vice versa).  Those feelings are sure to complicate things moving forward … but what isn’t complicated on Homeland?

homeland-season-2-poster-1Overall, an interesting episode that toned down the insanity for the majority of the hour, but has set up another great week ahead.  Has any show ever had better cliffhangers? (I can only think of one: Battlestar Galactica).

Episode Rating: A-

— I’m so angry with myself that I didn’t make a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy joke last week.  It was so easy!

— What exactly was Dana’s quote? “My dad’s a liar and my mom’s a rube.”  Rube?  I had trouble understanding some of what she said this week (including her dig at VP Walden), but in general I think she’s great.

— Speaking of not hearing things correctly, I liked the road splatter / blood splatter joke at the car wash.

— Finn saying to Dana “I want to be your boyfriend” was hot.  Boys, take note.

— Sally and TJ = Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemming for those who (like me) blanked on it at first.

— VP Walden is a dick.

— Brody: “I liked you.”  Carrie: “I loved you.”