All right, I confess that I was skeptical going into the second season of Homeland that the quality would dip, simply because the first season was so phenomenal. But I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong. Only four episodes into the season and it’s thrill after thrill!
The one thing I truly missed was how the two Emmy-award winning leads were now separate from one another, stripping us from their great chemistry and great acting altogether. In “New Car Smell,” that chemistry was back. The CIA pins Carrie head-to-head with Brody, trying to lure him to revealing his inside source to Abu Nazir and the planned attack to retaliate against the United States. They share a small conversation that leads to a more personal conversation later that night at a bar. Brody asks how her ECT treatments were and Carrie loses it (in the masterful way Claire Danes is able to show her internalizing her pain). It’s a brilliant scene and it leads to the big conclusion.
But before we get there, other things happened in the episode. Lauder stops by the house looking for Brody. Jessica isn’t fit to deal with Lauder’s drunken rants and calls Mike, who comes and drags Lauder away. But these three all have something in common: they know something is off with Brody. While Jessica forces Brody to sleep at a hotel until he’s willing to tell her the truth, Mike and Lauder concoct an idea that Brody is working for the CIA. So they’re far from the truth, but they all are keeping a close watch on Brody.
While Carrie and Saul were keeping surveillance on Brody, we meet a new character, Peter Quinn. He’s a young and very intelligent analyst whom Estes trusts in. Peter and Carrie exchange some of the episode’s funnier conversations, but at the end I’ve grown to like and trust Peter even though Carrie clearly doesn’t.
The episode concludes with Carrie returning to Brody’s hotel room after they’ve bid each other farewell at the bar. Carrie shows her cards and Brody is captured and taken away with a bag over his head. What does this mean? Well this means Jessica will not likely be hearing from Brody for a while. But all of these series of events have been unraveling rather quickly and I’m eager to find out what else the writers have in store for us for the rest of the season.
On the less important side of the show, how can you not sense a Jessica-Mike hookup soon? Drunken Lauder seems to have a sixth sense about these things; he’s right about Brody and he can soon be right about Mike and Jessica. Meanwhile, we now have a love triangle between Dana/Xander/Finn. You have to assume that Dana and Finn are going to get together because of Finn’s VP father having an inner circle with Brody.
This was a great episode, hands down. Let’s see if Homeland takes its foot off the acceleration a little bit during the middle handful this season.