After last week’s ho-hum effort, Homeland returns…and Brody’s (Damian Lewis) secret is out!
Let’s survey the wreckage…1) Because I’m petty: suck it, naysayers. For three weeks I’ve defended Homeland from people who saw nothing but implausibilities and contrivances in the series (these are people who have apparently never watched TV). So an hour like ‘New Car Smell’ is sweet vindication to those of us who never doubted the series (well…maybe aside from last week)
2) It’s going to be hard for another show to knock Homeland out of its perch as the best show on TV for me. (It was #1 last year, in case you forgot)
In what has to be its best episode since 1×07 ‘The Weekend’ (to which it bears a number of striking similarities), Homeland has once again reinvented itself. Considering how safe so much of television is, I can’t stop piling on the accolades for a show that is willing to take these kinds of narrative risks. Yes, folks, between this, a nicely revitalized The Walking Dead (and Dexter) as well as the continued magnificence of Breaking Bad, this truly is the Golden Age of television.
Last year Carrie (Claire Danes) began an illicit relationship with a man she suspected of being a terrorist. She was a mess: on and off her meds, paranoid and dangerously close to her own investigation. Brody was unable to connect intimately with Jess (Morena Baccarin) and these two wounded souls found sex and solace over a single weekend in which all of the cards were bared. In a single episode, all of the truths came out and the show rounded a corner from engaging to jaw-droppingly awesome.
‘New Car Smell’ – I would argue – does it one better. It revisits all of these old feelings, paying homage to ‘The Weekend’ with lines about Carrie and Brody’s predilection for bars, even as Jess uses Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) as a surrogate husband – just like old times. What’s different is that these people are in dramatically different positions: Brody is now a congressman, Carrie has spent a year being doubted and underwent six weeks of electroshock therapy. The stakes for their successes and failures have been increased, so for it all to come crashing down in a single episode is amazing. As other critics and I have been espousing since the show’s return: Homeland is acting like every single episode is a season finale. But this is episode four, people. Somehow there’s eight more episodes to come!
- The chemistry between Carrie and Brody is as present as ever. It’s so well played and understated; so completely different from the broad showy strokes on lesser shows. Lewis and Danes continue to post career-best work disguised as knowing glances (virtually the entire scene at the bar), micro-reactions (Brody’s panicked reaction when he returns to the hotel room; Carrie’s half-smile/cry as Brody is carted away) and delivery of dialogue (Carrie’s delivery of “I loved you” and then moments later, her righteous indignation that Brody – the traitor and terrorist – will pay seem to originate from completely different people)
- In addition to featuring the return of the fantastic David Marciano (Virgil!), we meet a*shole-ish new CIA analyst turned bigwig Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend). Though after the events of tonight, we may never see him again since there’s no more op
- I wanted Mike to have a reason to exist and apparently that means turning him into a conspiracy nut. Amusingly enough the number of people who don’t know Brody’s true allegiance are now in the minority, though it appears that Mike may soon join the club as he ponders whether Brody and Tom Walker were working together
- Didn’t care for Saul’s (Mandy Patinkin) racial profiling justification for ethnic people in Brody’s life. I don’t doubt that intelligence agencies work this way, but it feels very distasteful
- Finally, Dana (Morgan Saylor) and Finn (Timothée Chalamet) embark on a teenage romance that comes with some perks of being the son of the VP. They’re cute together, though considering the storyline surrounding it, this will need to walk a fine line in order to feel like it’s not a waste of screentime
- Brody (when Jess suggests she doesn’t trust him): “That’s harsh.”
- Quinn (to Carrie, immediately establishing himself as an a*shole): “Crazy…interesting choice of word.”
- Quinn (when Carrie briskly asks who he’s f*cking): “An ER nurse. I’m not that into her”
- Carrie (when Quinn asks if she slept with Brody for work or love): “What are we, girlfriends?”
And so the show reinvents itself again. So many questions: What happens next (obviously)? How will they keep this covered up? What will Jess do when she finds out? Will Brody be tortured? Is this the end of the promising potential hook-up between effed up CIA analysts Quinn and Carrie? And did Mandy Patinkin’s bald patch get bigger, or he normally better at concealing it? Hit the comments below
Homeland airs Sundays at 10pm EST on Showtim and was recently renewed for a third season