HOMELAND: 2.04 New Car Smell — REVIEW

homeland-new-car-smell-review-seriable

The opening three episodes of Homeland Season 2 reshuffled the pieces and delivered dramatic development in the shape of Saul and now Carrie discovering that she was right about Brody all along. So my big question upon getting a whiff of that “New Car Smell” was: just how high does the ceiling go?

If there were questions as to whether the show had exhausted its narrative potential too early then such notions were sent packing by the end of the episode. Still, it was nonetheless surprising to see Carrie’s new sense of vindication blow the lid off the season so soon.

Carrie’s outing of Brody was one of the most gripping moments of TV so far this season and rather than making the show feel smaller with less potential to grow, it expands the arena. Certainly, it will be interesting to see how things navigate from here, but to play what could easily have been a season ending card so early in the game suggests the writers have plenty more interesting story up their sleeves.

This isn’t to say the episode was perfect, I felt there were some missed character opportunities with Carrie and Estes, while the shape of the episode felt unbalanced in places. But importantly, by the end I found myself at that mythical place known as the edge of my seat.

Going into this episode I had Carrie’s “I was right” ringing in my ears, so it felt appropriate that things got underway with Saul telling Estes the good news. Admittedly, I expected a bigger reaction but it was rewarding to see him recognize his error. Saul’s (or Carrie’s) idea to leave Brody in play made sense but it was a risky move, all things considered.

I enjoyed the covert nature of the plan with only the three of them knowing the ins and outs, plus Virgil, Max and Estes’ master analyst Peter Quinn, who made a positive impression on his first appearance, even if like Carrie I found his arrival somewhat curious.

Just when I think Brody is going to pop under pressure he finds another level from somewhere, I guess he is “special” in that regard. But being booted out  by Jessica with Mike continuing to sniff around is one thing, having Carrie saunter back into his life is another.

After what seems like so long apart, bringing them together under these circumstances was dynamite. Carrie may have been nervous but she was back in her element and played him like a pro, for the most part, and it was fun reading between the lines of her comments — “I’m myself again”/ “you kind of saved me” — she’s so naughty!

Using Carrie as bait did the trick, and with Brody on the hook he spilled his concerns to Roya, though at this stage he clearly didn’t know that he was being played. It illustrated just how precarious an existence he’s been living, and in a way that enabled me to overlook the obvious contrivances and instead further buy into the notion that, like Carrie, he has a gift for deception. Sure, we’ve seen him almost meltdown on numerous occasions, but that also makes him more believable as a character.

His ability to play the game was, as mentioned, taken to another level when Roya convinced him to do some fishing of his own, leading to a great moment when he calls Carrie while Carrie and the team are expecting him to contact his handler. There’s something quite interesting about that given their intertwined states.

And this is where things got explosive, with a scornful Carrie facing the man who made her doubt her own mind in a scene that will live long in the memory. What’s fascinating about this is that Brody completely turned the tables on her, honing in on her ECT treatments and touching a wired nerve that was still too raw for her to ignore. She reacted emotionally and, apparently, he saw that she was onto him.

Do we trust Carrie’s take on this? As restored as her own trust in her mind is, I’m not convinced Brody completely saw he was being played. He was definitely spooked and he may have put the pieces together had she backed off. But Carrie’s decision to take off her mask by revealing his, offered an intriguing glimpse into her own psyche.

In outing Brody, she yet again went against the ‘rules’ to achieve an emotional victory. But unlike her ‘smoke and mirrors’ deception in Beirut, here she was actually taking off the magician’s hat and revealing the multitude of rabbits up her sleeve.

As the camera panned back it put the seal on a victorious moment of vindication, but one that poses a few questions. Again, maybe she’s right about Brody seeing through her disguise, but that alone, the fact that he may have glimpsed, places a question mark over her.

Time will tell as to whether she did the right thing by collapsing the mine instead of holding out patiently, but what a way to blow open the door to the remainder of the season. It’s not a given that it will all come together, but having trust in narrative is incredibly important in serial. I think it’s going to be fascinating to see where things go from here.

SURVEILLANCE NOTES
  • Estes’ son in odd Darth Vader reference? Foreshadowing of some kind?
  • Carrie and Brody’s first meeting carried some nice visuals, walking in different directions before staring at one another through a divide. Narrative lines were about to collide.
  • Good to see Estes apologise to Carrie and good on her for not milking as she surely could have (and probably should have).
  • Quinn is apparently reliable. Jessica notes that she can’t rely on Brody. Reliability really came to the fore in this one.
  • Dana is growing apart from Xander and closer to Son Walden. The reflective Washington Monument scene was very nicely done.
  • Brody jokes: “..so it all ends with a bullet in my brain, huh?” Foreshadowing or misdirection?
  • Totally out of context, but something about Carrie saying (in reference to Brody): “He made me..”
  • Has the experience of ECT made Carrie “stronger” as Brody suggests? Or has it given her a vulnerability that leads to more reckless actions? I guess it depends on how you define strength. Some might say confronting Brody (who must have cut an imposing figure in his hotel room) took a lot of seria-balls. Though others might say it was a selfish response based on pride more than homeland security. Thing is, she’s so wired that it’s hard to separate the two.
  • Carrie calls Brody “demented”. Interesting choice of words.
  • Carrie’s “I love you……if only the circumstances had been wildly different”, just about wins quotable of the week, I think. :)
  • Brody’s back in captivity. How about that?

8.5/10 Seriable Stars

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Comments

  1. Peanut says

    Apparently not a good idea to get on Carrie’s bad side …

    Again, the plot is zipping right along. Perfect show, no, but terrific & gripping television, yes. The acting on this show remains impressive.

    I’m glad that you pointed out the visuals, Roco, particularly the youngsters at the Washington Monument & Brody & Carrie passing each other in front of the CIA HQ.

    The place where Brody took his car to be detailed was “Constitutional Car Wash,” if I heard correctly. Wonder how Brody picked it?

    Yep, Carrie’s definitely got the quote of the week.

    Thanks for the review, Roco.

    Like: Thumb up 1

  2. Aria Mohtadi says

    Thanks for the great read and the brainstorming notes, Roco.

    I liked the episode, it felt like old times at 24’s CTU with the “new” Quinn on board, while also reflecting on Carrie’s off-book surveillance from season 1. I think some part of her still wants to find good in Brody; and after all the guy’s doing it for Isaa, , although misdirected and brainwashed along the way.

    Also I found Brody and Carrie meeting again through what looked like the Kryptos to me, pretty symbolic; as if they were trying to decipher each other’s minds.

    Like: Thumb up 0

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