Homeland "New Car Smell" Review: The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?

Homeland S02E04: "New Car Smell"

For the 0.1 percent of you out there thinking Homeland isn't moving fast enough, might I suggest mainlining some sugar and base-jumping from outer space? For the rest of us, we got the final moments of "New Car Smell," a series-ending turn of events that can't possibly actually be a series-ending turn of events because we're only on Episode 4 of Season 2. But damned if that couldn't have been the final page in this book. I mean seriously, Homeland, save some for Episodes 5, 6, and 12! With Brody busted, is the rest of the season going to be verbose legal proceedings, Virgil rummaging through Carrie's fridge for unexpired grub, and some D.C. intern wondering what to do with Brody's freshly cleaned car?

After Brody's bumbling bloodshed in the forest and Carrie's suicide smoothie from last week, the pace slowed down to a crawl for the majority of "New Car Smell." But things can change quickly in Homeland, especially when Carrie frantically decides that Carrie is going to do what Carrie is going to do. The fact that Brody is now in the custody of the people who have overwhelming underwhelming whelming evidence (he never actually outright says he was blowing anyone up in his video, so maybe the smoking gun is just smoldering) that he's an agent for Abu Nazir puts the show in a corner it will need to Houdini out of. And I'm a total loss in trying to figure out what comes next which makes me giddy as a schoolgirl with two weird-named boyfriends AND as nervous as an agnostic suicide bomber.

So much of what Homeland was built on was blown up the moment Brody kissed the floor of his hotel room and got cuffed by the CIA, and the fuse was lit as soon as Saul found Brody's rather unspecific confession. This is finding out what the island was all about in the second season of Lost. This is Booth and Brennan going at it like wild bunnies 15 episodes into Bones. This is Hank catching Walter White in a meth lab before we ever meet Gus Fring in Breaking Bad. Logically, this–the CIA knowing Brody was helping Abu Nazir and a small team of agents detaining him–can't happen until the second-to-last episode of the series. But it did.

There are a few narrow escapes that I can see Homeland wiggling through, but they pop out in territory we don't want to be in. Maybe there's not enough evidence against Brody on the videotape (rewatch the opening of the Season 1 finale and you'll see there's no hard admission of his plan, just some ranting and a complaint about Walden's war crimes) to put him in an orange jumpsuit, and a sharp-dressed lawyer says things like "gross misjudgment of character," "1984-ish illegal invasion of privacy," and "c'mon, he's white" until a judge agrees. But that cuts his ties to the Nazir because no way would Al Qaeda continue to ask Brody to do chores for them after that, and that would kill the show. Maybe Brody agrees to flip and help the CIA stop Nazir by going undercover. But that kills the chase between Brody and Carrie, and there isn't a single person rooting for that. Maybe Brody agrees to go undercover but secretly stays loyal to Nazir, walking the dangerous line between his fake allegiance and his real allegiance, in which case we may as well throw our TVs out the window because that will open the floodgates to Convoluted Dam.

But the writers of Homeland have a better way out that I haven't thought of, I'm sure of it. (Oh God please have a way out.) Otherwise, there's no way they would have moved things along this fast. (Oh geez, are they going too fast?) I mean, this isn't just turning into our weekly dose of shocking plot happenings to keep us looking forward and not back at a string of pure insanity that flew before our eyes, right? (Right?) This kind of conversation is exactly what we signed up for when we decided to watch Homeland, and we've frolicked in the twists, turns, and the show's ability to somewhat have it make sense enough to give it the benefit of the doubt. But that's a few leaps of faith down from the unwavering confidence Homeland earned out of us when the series was at its best. The decision to have Brody captured will be looked at as a major turning point for the series. But whether we see it as the moment the show excelled into brave, unknown television territory or the instant it fell apart is yet to be seen.

When you don't stop to think about if/when Homeland can recover from this sharp and sudden turn towards the endgame (and you shouldn't, but I feel compelled to talk about the things that swim in my head), "New Car Smell" was a great episode of Homeland because the stars finally aligned again. This show is always better when Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are on set at the same time, and their reunion produced several fine moments (even though no backseat of a car was defiled). The "accidental" run-in outside Langley, the stir-up at the hotel bar, and the round-up in the hotel room were all riveting, and Danes did her acting thing that she's so good at by playing three different versions of Carrie–nervous, flirty, and vengeful, each one entirely capable of the unexpected for maximum discomfort on our parts–while Lewis brimmed with plenty of reserved skepticism and just the right amount of subtle horniness to sell the possibility of a sexytime scenario or a trip to Home Depot for duct tape, rope, and a shovel. These two are masters of the duality of their characters right down to each little head tilt or stammer, and their ability to play both sides simultaneously is what keeps us on edge. We don't know what they're going to do next because they don't know what they're going to do next either. We should all chip in to get cameras on these two at all times, because CHEMISTRY and TALENT.

While we're here we may as well talk about some of the other things that happened, but teenage love and the great debate of Indian versus Greek delivery seems to pale in comparison with that happened at the end there. The biggest development was probably Mike getting dragged down into Lauder's conspiracy hole. The drunken ramblings of his boozy friend are starting to make a little bit of sense to Mike, especially now that Mike sees the door to Jess's va-va-voom is open up again. If Lauder is somehow right, Mike can be the American hero AND get the girl he's always wanted, and when Morena Baccarin is your motivation, you tend to believe things that pave the way to her nakedness.

The introduction of Peter Quinn, Estes' cocky surveillance stud, adds a welcome wrinkle to the dynamic between Carrie and the job. His first impression was a disaster on both her and us, but the more time we spent with him, the more we warmed up to him (I loved his frankness about the ER nurse he was banging–"I'm not that into her"). Yes, he's a total bag le douche, but doesn't that go without saying for almost anyone in the CIA? Also, Virgil is back! Yippeeee!

I can't say I'm totally at ease with where Homeland is going after last week's string of bizarre events, and the whopper from "New Car Smell" continued to tempt my confidence. But that was exactly the point of this episode. Homeland is chugging along at speeds heretofore reserved for preposterous soaps and shows with nothing to lose, and the cynic inside me doubts a sustained high-quality run is possible after all the bombs that have dropped. But I'm going to tell that cynic to shut the hell up and enjoy the ride.

(Edit: I saw the scenes from next week's episode and it looks great, so we'll see how long it can stay interesting with members of the CIA knowing his secret.)



NOTES

Homeland doesn't have many visually striking moments, but the scene with Dana and Finn talking (and smooching!) in the Washington Monument as the reflections of disembodied heads over D.C. was beautiful.

– If my daughter ever comes home choosing between two boys named Xander and Finn, I will lock her up until she's 40 because she's obviously making questionable life decisions. (#TeamFinn by the way.)

– Ohhhhhh surrrrre, Brody gets a phone call from Jess when he's just talking to someone in the hallway and he ignores it (plus the four other times when he was out washing his car) but Jess calls when he's laying on top of an impaled Al Qaeda agent and he can't wait to pick up the phone.

– Hey look! It's Chris Brody! Glad to see he's still on the show. Does he have a point in the series yet?

Comments (35)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
Really struggling with Peter Quinn's being from Philadelphia... with a strong hint of a British accent.
Reply
Flag
From the get go of Season 2 I have been anticipating whether Brody would be revealed. I half expected Brody to make a few slip ups over the couirse of the season like the debacle in the woods and maybe a few other similar situations as Nazir pulled his strings through the reporter. In the end he would wriggle out of it with only Carrie and maybe Sol knowing who Brody really is.

So to have Carrie blow him out of the water without giving him a clue what was happening and for Brody to be arrested without any of the usual OTT roughy toughy dramatics that these TV show situations usually result in was brilliant to watch.

Great acting, great writing, great show.

Lets have more of the same.
Reply
Flag
God... is that show crazy or what?

Seriously, when Carrie straight-up called out Brody, all I could do is rewind that scene about 5 times while saying "What... what???" "Homeland" just proved itself to be the most GANGSTER show on television right now - it just takes our expectation, beat the crap out of it, piss on it, and then shoot a bullet in its metaphorical head to put an end to its misery. Yes, it's ballsy and tremendously awesome to watch such an insane display of storytelling, but, really, doesn't that pretty prevent this series to last longer than four season? And, left's face fact, I'm being SUPER optimistic with that series 4 call, cause I have no idea how they'll be able to even do a third one! So, yeah, what a brave and awesome move you've made, "Homeland"... now, is it all you got?

By the way, what Carrie did at the very end of this episode is EXACTLY WHY she shouldn't be working for the CIA. Yes, she's right more often than most, but dammit, she's certifiably pant-crappy crazy, and therefore should never, in any capacity, be involve in matters where the lives of millions are at stake. She didn't do it for national security - that was a purely vengeful move! I mean, geez, I kinda get where she's coming from, especially with her declaration of love and all, but, hey, big picture, honey? Yeah, you got yourself a big shark, but how about catching that big-ass whale he's working for?

Nope, Saul won't be impressed by her actions...

Other storylines puzzle me, because I have no idea what's their points, their 'raisons d'tre', compare to the main one. So Mike is getting suspicious of Brody... so what? What can he actually do that the CIA won't do to Brody next week? And yes, Dana and Finn's crush is sweet and all, but how those that truly affect the whole 'my dad is a terrorist' thing? (FYI: I doubt anyone would be #TeamXander here - when your daughter outgrow her stoner boyfriend and wants to move on to the kid of the Veep, you know you did something REALLY RIGHT as a parent!)

Surette's completely right when he said that next week's eps will define what "Homeland" will be from now on. Seriously, I have no idea what to expect, but, since they haven't fail any of us yet, I'll put my complete trust into the makers of this show to keep this ship steady. The again, I remember putting my complete trust into other bat-shit crazy shows, and, sadly, most of them lost their ways after trying to pull big-ass stunts like this one. I hope it won't be the case here...
More+
1
Reply
Flag
I said it before, I'll say it again. Sean Callery can raise the epicness of any moment.



I'm going to buy the Homeland soundtrack.
Reply
Flag
I think the fact that he was taken into CIA custody will matter a lot. The CIA technically doesn't operate (as far as they'll admit) on US soil, so they're not a law enforcement agency. In other words, Brody really wasn't arrested and charged with a crime after the CIA secured a warrant for his arrest. The rules we all think we know probably won't apply, if the previews for next week's episode are any indication.
Reply
Flag
Good points. I didn't actually watch the previews for next week's episode, but I will note that when the CIA took Brody into custody, they bagged his head - something that seems more fitting if they're going to stash him somewhere and interrogate him rather than toss him in jail. Maybe they'll try to interrogate him for a day before they hand him over - seems dangerous to hold a Congressman much longer than that.
Reply
Flag
Loved the episode. Love the show.

I am curious how it proceeds from here for Brody. I really hope (fear) it's not the "we didn't have enough evidence to hold him" route (by the way, did Brody re-admit to doing it when he was in the hotel room and was that caught on audio?), followed by the CIA getting an earful for operating domestically and monitoring/arresting a Congressman and the VP's friend/potential running mate. BUT, the show is amazing so I have no criticisms and no fear that they have something interesting and intelligent planned.

I have the say though, the part of the show I am the most astounded and extremely (pleasantly) surprised about is Dana Brody's arc and the maturation it went through. Aside from the main Brody/Carrie story, Dana has turned from a (understandably) whiny teenager into a most interesting, subversively charismatic character. Cheers to the writing, but I think as much or more credit goes to Morgan Saylor. I don't really care about Jessica's or the Marines' stories until they have some bigger significance on the main story, but I actually enjoy every time the show cuts to Dana's angsty life, which is incredibly accomplishment, especially in a show where it would be considered a largely unrelated C-plot (I know, I know, it obviously is affected by and affects the main story). (Side note: Stuck out at me at the time to the point of mentioning it and completely agree now - the cinematography of the Washington Monument scene was beautiful.)

Bravo.
More+
Reply
Flag
I don't understand why no one can see the series without Brody...I feel like they've been slowly making his "end" inevitable (from his marine buddies getting suspicious of Walker's death, the outing of his Islamic faith, his wife kicking him out, the messy murder of the bomb-maker). Nick Brody is not long for this world. Just like any action packed thriller, like 24, the tensions can easily be recast and altered. I think they are moving the conspiracy beyond Brody and I'm interested in that bigger picture.
Reply
Flag
I read that he was signed on for something like 5 more seasons.
Reply
Flag
Yeah. While Damien Lewis is awesome, this had to happen. Now either he dies, escapes, or gets sent to Guantanamo for eternity, and the show moves on. If he escapes, we get the pleasure of a future guest-appearance (he could be Homeland's Nina Myers, showing up a couple more times before eating a bullet or three).
Reply
Flag
I can see the series without Brody, though it would be a dangerous task for the show, I just don't think they'd do it this early (even for a group of writers/producers that are intent on subverting our thoughts - it seems like the type of show where nobody is safe if it fits the plot and storytelling). I picture it, if at all, some time in Season 3 or the at the end of it (okay, maybe the final episode of season 2, but I feel like they'd milk it a bit more and use it as a significant moment later on).
Reply
Flag
This season has been fantastic so far. Homeland stresses me out in the best possible way. I literally can't guess where it's going to go from here, but I'm not worried yet. I trust that these writers have something awesome planned. I'm usually busy on Sunday nights these days so sadly, I never get to watch Homeland live anymore. I've got my Hopper all set up to record it, though, so I'm always able to turn it on the minute I get home. It's a relief to not have to worry about being out of the loop with any of my DISH co-workers who are just as addicted to this amazing show as I am.
Reply
Flag
Before episode 1 I was worried that they were gonna draw out Carrie's return to CIA work for too many episodes, by the end the episode they had moved past that point already.

Before episode 2 I was worried that they were gonna draw out Brody's hidden identity for too many episodes, by the end of the episode Saul knew.

Before episode 3, I was slightly worried that Saul was gonna be killed and Brody's concealed purpose would be drawn out for too many episodes, by the end of the episode Saul was playing the tape to Carrie.

Before episode 4, I was somewhat hesitant that they may draw out Brody's arrest and instead monitor him for too many episodes, by the end of the episode Brody has been arrested.



Ok Homeland I get it, no need to worry about you, just turn up and enjoy the (very fast) ride
1
Reply
Flag
I'm not even going to try and guess where Homeland is heading, because I can't. I'm just here to enjoy the mind-blowing ride!
Reply
Flag
I admit I am usually good at "imagining" the what's-next possibilities but this time I am hanging without the rope around anywhere near me. Imagine that. I have no clue how series will go on from this moment.

Broody is the key player of this series, without him there is no Homeland. Now the only one possibility I can think of is he prove CIA to be on their side to find the location of higher command, above Abu Nazir. I mean this is his only way out, which he have enough to pull off.

He can say to gain trust he agreed to blow himself up with bunch of key officials, but because he doesn't want to do it so he finds another way.

He can also point to the vest-maker that he killed so he wouldn't make more for others. He can say to save his country he is letting go of his family because he is real soldier who is risking everything to protect his country.
Reply
Flag
Oh. My. God. I think you were right before, they are fo' sho' airing these out of order. Its only episode 4!! What the hell is gonna happen next?!!



Absolutely loved Dana in this episode btw, she is a brilliant character!

Jessica is annoying as hell, as are Brody's old marine buddies.

Chris Brody... *snore*
Reply
Flag
This was definitely a make-or-break episode. And I really have no idea how they get out of this mess again without ruining the premise. But I really hope they've found a way!!!!!!! The most beautiful scene was definitely the one with Dana and Finn in the Washington Monument. Great acting!!! #TeamFinn. Although that makes it even more complicated with Walden and Brody (soon) being enemies.
Reply
Flag
That scene in the Washington Monument was extremely beautifully shot. And bravo for the young actors. It's quite rare when teenage or child characters in dramas don't make you want to kill yourself. These are actually enjoyable to watch.
Reply
Flag
Awesome stuff.. but with the reveal of Brody's intentions now the big secret is to find out WHO the mole is? I'm sure this will be what keeps Carrie paranoid on the edge the rest of the season, you can bet, whoever the mole is will make her head spin and make us bite our nails 'till it hurts!

Aaaaand I think the mole is the new guy Estes forced in the team... whatever his name is, we can call him Mr. Mole already
Reply
Flag
WTF SHOW. WTF. REALLY? DUDE. WTF.

Despite the fact that it's a high quality drama, could you imagine if Homeland was on AMC? There's no way it would have gone this fast. I'd still describe Homeland as one of those AMC type "slow dramas", but their plots progress in lightning fast speed.

I will say, though, that people that had a big problem with season one's finale (Brody not blowing shit up) will probably have a problem with this. Knowing Homeland is picked up for season three and assuming Damian Lewis wont be written off, the potential outcomes of Brody being "outed" already to the CIA all look rather dim.

Anyway, I didn't have a problem with the first season's finale, and hopefully I wont have a problem with the outcome of this plot progression.
Reply
Flag
Guys!!! You are all missing the reason this HAD to happen! Carrie was thrown out of the CIA, the only way possible to get her back in the action was for the CIA to find out she was right, and they did. Now, i'm sure the writers didn't want us to go through more surveillance as what happened in the first season AND they didn't want the CIA to find out who the handler was because then the story would be all over. Instead they took us onto the path of Carrie getting her revenge (just like the leader of the surveillance team said, "if it was me I would get my revenge"). So now the only foreseeable path is that they aren't going to break Brody in the limited time they have and they'll have to release him back to the world which unfortunately I can't predict that far. I can't wait to see what happens next!
Reply
Flag
awesome episode
Reply
Flag
I just couldn't believe my eyes... and what is up with that chemistry? Through the freakin' roof!
Reply
Flag
Holy... It's effin' 24 again.



The same show-runner, the same composer, and the same "OMGWTFHJHH?" moments.



The same "to hell with it, anything can happen" mentality.



The same "to hell with it, I know I'm right" kick-ass lead character.



But at the same time, a more psychological thriller instead of a non-stop action one. Where the supporting characters and their plots are actually interesting.



Seriously, if that last scene ended in a ticking clock, it would have fit perfectly.



This show is awesome. I was disappointed when they didn't go through with the Brody reveal in the finale, and I was expecting a full season of hints and tension. I am so glad it turned out like this.



Awesome.
Reply
Flag
Loved the episode. Homeland is brutally awesome. Every scene is unpredictable, every piece of acting by the main characters is superb, and it's almost impossible not to hang to every word on the dialogue.



I was appalled last week by the excessive criticism the show got. People just don't know how to recognize something good when it's in front of them. When has Homeland ever disappointed? Seriously? One sketchy scene... and suddenly it's in the fails of the week. Right, following that logic every god damn five minutes of Revolution, or any other forsaken thoughtless cheesy show for that matter, should be up there on the WTF every god damn week. What's more annoying is that you, Tim, jumped or rather even created the bandwagon of drama on the best show on TV right now. Not only that, but you keep doubting it. And I follow your reviews for a while now, you already had this OMG WILL THIS LAST attitude from early season one, and here we are... another god damn breath taking episode this week, and more doubts from your part. It's like you're just sitting there, rubbing your hands together waiting for Homeland to fail so you can say HA, I TOLD YOU IT WOULDN'T LAST.



Ranting aside... I am really curious to know what's going to happen next. And dear me, that final scene between Carrie and Brody was to die for. Specially because I was actually thinking she was just going to try and seduce him, and she just blew up, and for once, we actually saw the mercenary Brody talking, and damn, it was intense.



Bow down to the current King of Television.
More+
Reply
Flag
liked the "bag le douche" comment :)
Reply
Flag
Brilliant write-up, but

"might I suggest mainlining some sugar and base-jumping from outer space"

Might i suggest shooting heroin in your eyes and huffing paint thinners?
Reply
Flag
Brilliant write-up, but

"might I suggest mainlining some sugar and base-jumping from outer space"

Might i suggest shooting heroin in your eyes and huffing paint thinners?
Reply
Flag
i think if Brody escaped the CIA custody, and became a full fledged terrorist, who's on the run...THAT would be an interesting turn of events. maybe even end the season with him carrying out a successful terrorist attack...avenging his beloved Issa!
Reply
Flag
When I watched the last scene I couldn't believe what was about to happen. I was sure they must have done the ridiculous decision to go with a dream (or nightmare) sequence, either Carrie's or Brody's. I couldn't believe they would reveal the big secret that suddenly, and already in episode four of this season. And then it turned out to be real!

It's not like I didn't want the revelation to come soon. How long could they go on building up the tension around this big secret? But this still came very suddenly. I'm sure they have a good reason for it, but it still makes you wonder what direction this show is going to take. If a bigger group of people find out what Brody is, the show is over right there. If they try to use him against the terrorists, how long will that be fun to watch? If he goes on the run, same problem. I'm both looking forward to and dreading what the upcoming weeks will show us.
Reply
Flag

Like TV.com on Facebook