Is Season 2 of “Homeland” over after just its fourth episode? Because really, where can they possibly go after the conclusion of “New Car Smell”?
That’s a rhetorical question, of course, because “Homeland’s” Emmy-winning executive producers, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, seem to take a perverse pleasure in writing themselves into a corner. (Full disclosure: We’ve seen next week’s episode and know just how brilliantly they succeed.)
Game Over: “You disgraced your nation, Sgt. Nicholas Brody: You’re a traitor and a terrorist and now it’s time that you pay for that,” says reinstated CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) before the congressman (Damian Lewis) is arrested. Once Saul (Mandy Patinkin) found Brody’s suicide video it seemed this scene was bound to happen … in the season finale! Instead, we were just as shocked as Carrie’s colleagues watching the situation unfold via surveillance video.
Welcome Back, Virgil: The covert operation had to be authorized by Estes (David Harewood), who reacted with shock and guilt when Saul played him Brody’s incriminating video (and future YouTube sensation?). The CIA boss is also horrified to realize that he was one of the “cronies” in the bunker with Vice President Walden who would’ve been blown to bits if Brody had detonated his explosive vest. He doesn’t need much convincing from Saul to keep their surveillance secret from Walden either. The best part? Carrie is reunited with Virgil and his peculiar brother, Max.
Show Me Yours: While reinstating Carrie, Estes puts his own analyst, Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) in charge of the operation. He’s prickly and confrontational, but he and Carrie have one thing in common: a mutual distrust of each other. (She goes one step further, though, asking Virgil to secretly check him out.)
“New Car Smell”: Jessica and Brody are also having trust issues, and even Dana feels betrayed by her dad. In fact, she points out that his car “smells like smoke” — suspecting it’s from another woman, not the terrorist Brody murdered. He hurries to the car wash and takes a taxi to Langley, and when the observant cabbie grumbles about being tailed, Brody responds, “Sure you’re not the one who’s paranoid?” Tsk, tsk.
Meanwhile, Dana is enjoying a genuine a new-car fragrance and other perks with Finn, Vice President Walden’s son, who gives her a private tour of the Washington Monument. They share a romantic kiss, but Dana says they can’t date until she breaks up with her boyfriend. (Daddy’s little girl refuses to repeat his mistakes.) Spoiler alert: Finn’s new car isn’t going to smell quite so nice next week.
Booty Call: You know what else smells? Brody’s b.s. — “it reeks,” in fact, castigates Carrie in his hotel room. Back up! How’d she end up there? First she staged a brilliant random meet-up with her ex-lover outside Langley — which is so convincing that he initiates another meeting, asking her to bury the hatchet over a drink at his hotel bar. Although Brody is oblivious, their conversation is drenched with double meaning: “I’m getting pretty close to…my goal — I’m circling a certain terrorist,” says Carrie, to which Brody replies, “Hey, so long as it’s not me.”
Carrie’s candor throughout her interactions with Brody — including their intimacy and her ECT — are remarkable, since she knows Peter Quinn and their surveillance team are listening to every word. Unfortunately, she’s not listening to them. Believing Brody has “made” her, she ignores Peter’s orders to return to the CIA — and instead goes to Brody’s room.
OK, Not Friends: We were just as shocked as her CIA colleagues when Carrie confronts him about being an agent of Abu Nazir. After calling him a “demented ex-soldier who hates America,” she finally asks, “What are you going to do now, you gonna kill me?” He finally turns off the Golden Boy switch and replies menacingly, “I seem to be good at this. I liked you Carrie.”
“I loved you,” she replies — a response just as truthful as her triumph, and heartbreak, at his arrest.