WashingTelevision: Homeland Recap, Season Two, Episode Four, “New Car Smell”

Not to give anything away, but wow.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Remember last season, when we were all ambivalent about Sergeant Nicholas Brody and whether he was a redheaded sex god with PTSD or a thoroughly nasty and mendacious terrorist who possibly shouldn’t have access to firearms? And then we followed the Saudi Arabian diplomat into his house, thinking he’d been robbed, only to see Brody almost throttle him while sporting a look of pure evil?

Let’s call that an “aha moment.” And let’s call the closing moments of last night’s episode, when Brody was hustled out of the Ashford Hotel with a hood over his head after being thoroughly scolded by Carrie, an “ahahahahahahaha moment.” Retribution is sweet, and to see the world’s most destructive redhead since Lindsey Lohan get his is a moment that, as viewers, we’ve all earned.

That said, I did have a few nitpicky issues with last night’s episode, starting with Saul and Estes discussing top-secret national security issues in Estes’s back yard (in full view of his neighbors’ wall), and ending with the world’s second most chintzy hotel. (The first, you may remember, is where poor Raqim Faisel was gunned down last season, adding “blood spatters” to the long list of what was wrong with that room.) But we’ll get to them later. First, if you had “Saul being challenged by a miniature Darth Vader” on your Homeland drinking game, congratulations—you’re officially either psychic or on the writing team.

The episode started with Saul going to Estes’s beautiful suburban home to tell him that NBD, but a suicide bomber almost blew up the Vice President while he and his cronies were all assembled in a bunker. Estes, being a chronic narcissist, points out that he was one of those cronies, then puts his head in his hands while watching Brody’s black-and-white video manifesto. Estes seems to figure out pretty early on that this video puts him in a lose-lose situation. Either he tells the VP that he’s “palling around with a jihadist” and loses the chance to stop a future attack on the US, or he alienates the possible future President forever. Goodbye, golden parachute. Farewell, cushy memoir deal. Adios, Billecart-Salmon at the Naval Observatory.

Brody, meanwhile, is trying to appease Jessica by bringing her an espresso in bed (if you needed any further evidence that this man hates America, here you go). Only Jessica isn’t buying any of it, because she doesn’t trust him anymore, and if he can’t tell her one honest thing, he needs to pack a bag. Dana seems to sense through her surly haze that something is wrong, but her boyfriend’s offer of a consolation doobie doesn’t do much for her gloomy state. Oh, Xander. Methinks thou hast been supplanted by a cocky rich kid with a Secret Service protection unit and a Paul Ryan-baggy school uniform.

Dana points out that Brody’s car smells like smoke, which means he rushes off to the auto shop and our collective hearts sink when we see the poor Middle Eastern car guy offering him interior car smells like Key lime pie, because you know Saul’s going to break that “code” in five seconds flat. Speaking of Saul, he and Estes have assembled a very small team with lots of computers to monitor Brody 24/7, and Virgil and Max are in it. “Well, well, well. Carrie Mathison was right about the redheaded menace,” says Virgil, in as poetic a statement as his namesake ever uttered. Also on the crack team: Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), the third English actor pretending to be American on the show, and another cog in Homeland’s Six Degrees of Separation game. (Because he once dated Keira Knightley. And this is as good a chance as any for us to mention that Brody’s married to Narcissa Malfoy in real life.)

Peter is handsome, cocky, and mysterious, making him a perfect new love interest for Carrie. He’s also kind of a heel. He sets Carrie up as a honey trap, sending her to Langley to make Brody nervous. Brody, naturally, shows up in a cab, because cabs just pull up at Langley all the time. There’s also a sculpture outside that looks like an approximation of “Kryptos.” As Homeland giveth with the authenticity, Homeland taketh away. Carrie and Brody’s interaction, given that he was so awfully awful to her last time they met, are pretty civil. They even shake hands and say “peace” to each other.

There are lots of side plots in which Lauder the conspiracy theorist shows up drunk at Jess’s house and burbles that he knows the truth about Brody, sparking Mike’s one brain cell to sit up and take notice. Finn Walden wants to take Dana on a date to Monticello, because girls who smoke weed and wear disdain like eyeliner just love that kind of thing. The pair give each other pet names: TJ and Sally after Thomas Jefferson and his mistress, which is as weird as it is adorable, and then Finn somehow breaks into the Washington Monument and takes Dana all the way to the top so the pair can look out over the city and he can kiss her (if you aren’t rolling your eyes at this, you aren’t human). Where are the park police? Why are two 16-year-olds allowed to climb a building that’s closed because it’s unsafe? Where’s the scaffolding? Where’s Dana’s bong?

Over at Peter Quinn’s house of surveillance, the team is monitoring Brody’s every move, including his interactions with anyone whose skin is slightly tanned. That’s not racial profiling, says Saul—it’s “actual profiling.” So the poor paranoid Sudanese cabbie and the carwash guy are up on the wall as suspects, and so is Roya, although less prominently. Speaking of Roya, they see her chatting with Brody in the Rayburn building, but they can’t hear what’s going on, so they have no idea she’s telling him she cleaned up that whole mess with the dead bomb-making tailor of Gettysburg.

Brody checks into the Ashford Hotel, which has a nice bar but lots of frilly floral decor going on, and proceeds to drink heavily while Peter grills Carrie about whether she was doing Brody for love or work. Then Brody calls her because he wants to “bury the hatchet,” which, believe it or not, isn’t a euphemism. Carrie goes, and Virgil follows, and the two have an exchange in which he apologizes for calling Estes and throwing her under the bus and also asks her what the ECT was like. How does he know this? Who told him? Carrie’s face shows a flicker of rage, and somehow he deduces that she knows he’s a spy and he’s being watched. Carrie wants to go in immediately, but Saul and Peter tell her to come home, since once again they choose to doubt her spidey-spy sense against all odds and historical precedent.

But Carrie, being Carrie, goes rogue, and goes up to his hotel room. At first she’s pretending to be all sexy and seductive, but then her face shifts an infinitesimal amount, and suddenly she’s Grendel’s mother and calling him a “demented ex-soldier.” Harsh! He’ll always be a soldier. Brody moves in as if to hurt her, and says “I seem to be good at this, if nothing else.” “Get AWAY FROM HER,” growls Saul, endearingly. Then Virgil and his goons rush in, and Carrie gets her moment of revenge. “You’re a disgrace to your nation, Sergeant Nicholas Brody,” she says. “You’re a traitor and a terrorist, and now it’s time you pay for that.” And then someone shoves a hood over Brody’s head and hustles him away.


1) What kind of an establishment is the Ashford, that people can be removed with black hoods over their heads and no one cares?

2) Who’s guessing that Peter Quinn is yet another baddie for Carrie to fall in love with?

3) Who didn’t say, “awwwww,” when Max told Carrie he’d believed her all along?

4) Who’s the mole?

5) Who is Roya going to boss around now? This is very bad news for the furtive Al Qaeda cell in Pennsylvania.

6) Why do people in films and TV always use whole names when they’re yelling at other people? I’ve been yelled at trillions of times in my life, but no one has ever said, “You’re a sloppy drunk, Sophie Grace Gilbert, and it’s high time you put down the wine opener and picked up a book.” Just saying.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Let us know in the comments.