‘Homeland’ episode 2.04: ‘New Car Smell’


Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson in Homeland. (Ronen Akerman/Showtime)
October 22, 2012

As Carrie tracks Brody, Ned Martel will be tracking their every move in weekly recaps of Showtime’s Emmy Award-winning series “Homeland.” Check back each Monday morning to join the conversation on one of TV’s best nailbiters.

Previous episodes

201: “The Smile”

202: “Beirut Is Back”

203: “State of Independence”

Now did that feel like a finale or what?

The “Homeland” writers didn’t hesitate in putting Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) back in the same room— a hotel room, no less! Last season, they put the two characters in a cabin in the woods, where everything that is supposed to happen in a cabin in the woods happened. (An accusation of working for Al Qaeda — well, that only happens sometimes.) Carrie’s pursuit of Brody is fully authorized by Estes (David Harewood) and The Company. She gets to thwart a devious enemy of the state who masquerades as a hero, and – bonus! – she can now embark on her own hell-hath-no-fury revenge on the guy who, for one brief, sylvan moment, cared about her.

Does the surveillance room evoke the one in “The Wire”?

A premium-cable nerd might say so. Plus, that bulletin board looks as complicated as those old GOP charts denouncing Hillarycare. Saul (Mandy Patinkin) got Estes to authorize one of those awesome stake-out dojos. (Where’s the foosball table?) The only drawback is, of course, some Harvard-y killjoy (Rupert Friend) is calling the shots. And he dispatches Carrie into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse and seems cold-blooded enough to feel no pain if Carrie is, uh, nullified.

So is it clear that there are actual sparks flying between Carrie and her new boss?

We know only that human nature (and bipolar diagnosis) might suggest that Carrie, having wallowed in some basement of despair in the last episode, now deserves a little what-what.

(What? What? I mean, is it fair that Danes gets to make out with another brainy British actor who can do American accents? Let the jury of public opinion decide. May I submit to the court she is married to one already? I’ll label Hugh Dancy as Exhibit A.)

How is the Finn-Dana drama developing?

Well, in D.C., private school kids grow up fast. When they’re 17, it’s like they’re already kind of in law school. So Xander-dude — you’re blocked. And Finn Walden (Timothee Chalamet), who seems like he could handle a bar exam as easily as a bra strap, dings into her Gchat list. He’s a preppy pipsqueak. (Prepsqueak — I call band name!) But it does seem like there’s a lot of diesel in his tank, no? Kinda like that Sebastian kid that Ryan Phillippe played in “Cruel Intentions.”

Is Estes ever going to be more likable?

Unlikely. We need bureaucratic bad guys, who are not actively evil, but so slow-going and switched-around that they miss good behavior in their midst. Welcome to Washington! Sure, he acknowledges Carrie did difficult things well, but many months after she got her brain zapped to get over her hurt.

So shouldn’t he buy her a Porsche or a Scotch or maybe even a sandwich?

Yes.

At what point will that reckless reporter— and Abu Nazir go-between— stop bugging Brody with these preposterous tasks?

I know, right? This week she pulls him only a few steps away from snoopy reporters to jibberjabber in a Capitol Hill hallway. My previously-consulted, SCIF-savvy colleague Rajiv Chandrasekaran posits that this week’s exchange between Brody and Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson) is actually less risky than all the phone calls and texts of past episodes. Vocal chatter is less detectable that digital chatter. You have been warned.

Is anyone ever going to care about Brody again?

It does seem like we’re on the verge of costume folks installing horns on his red head. His hotel hijinks with Carrie proved diabolical. But it was satisfying to see her call him out. I like it when she yelled, “Don’t play a playah!” Oh, she didn’t? I thought she did. Anyway, now that he is in the hoosegow, I keep thinking: Where do they go from here? All I come up with is this: If anyone can make that caged-bird sing, it’s Carrie.

Homeland addicts, unite! Please send me recon or outrage or any other signs of intelligence life: marteln@washpost.com or in the COMMENTS below.

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