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Homeland: 204 “New Car Smell” Review

Reviewed by Rich Jepson, cult TV enthusiast and author of 24: Terrorism Through Television.


So far Season 2 has moved with pace and tenacity in it’s efforts to thrill audiences through tense narratives and some huge reveals in the final few minuets of each episode.  However, none of this can match up to the final few moments of New Car Smell with Brody now in custardy and it seems the evidence they have shows there is no way of turning back.  This episode certainly was the game changer in not just the season, but, the series as a whole.

After Carrie found out about the video confession last week, it was difficult to guess which angle the show would take in how it dealt with this discovery. My bet was on the mole inside the CIA becoming a factor, other fans wondered if the evidence would get destroyed or stolen. Instead the writing team decided to take the narrative in a different direction and rather than dance around Brody for the rest of the season, they let Carrie spearhead a straight up confrontation with Brody. There is no way back from here in terms of how the two characters interact now, it’s a full-blown head to head and Carrie has got a lot of anger built up because of Brody.

At first it looked like the spy game was going to dominate the next few episodes, or possibly the rest of the season, with Virgil and his brother back in action alongside a new straight talking, direct and determined leader, courtesy of Estes’ insecurity around Carrie. Quinn was an absolute blast; his ridiculously high level of honesty injected a sense of humour into the episode giving it a broader range of emotion. He feels like a character who just walked over from 24’s CTU, like the lovechild of Chloe O’Brian and Jack Bauer, he has determination and intensity with a lethal dose of intelligence and sarcasm.

As the new team set up shop in their new Brody surveillance centre it felt like we were being introduced to a new setting that was going to be a staple part of the season. What makes Homeland so fantastic is that as soon as it brought in this whole new set up, it took it away, spiralling off into another tangent that keeps the show exciting and audiences guessing. This is the best style of writing and it’s this overarching approach to scriptwriting that has placed it on such a high mantle.

When Brody & Carrie re-established their acquaintance outside the CIA it finally felt like the bridge between seasons had been complete in their relationship. The more these two characters interact directly the better Homeland gets, it’s what makes this show so unique and entertaining. The scene in the bar was even better, getting a bigger dose of entertainment as the two faced off in a more subliminal way.

It was the finale though were the real drama came and hats off once again to both Damien Lewis & Claire Danes as the two fed off each other perfectly. Lewis’s eyes managed to tell a complete story all by themselves as Carrie unravelled his identity piece by piece, Danes on the other hand used her expanding array of facial expressions and body language in the closing seconds to illustrate the crash of emotions that was happening inside her at that moment.

Where do we go from here? Well next week’s edition is aptly named Q&A so no prizes for guessing what that might be about. Hopefully this will involve an hour of Carrie & Brody facing off, much like they did in the first season in The Weekend, what excuse is Brody going to use? Is Roya going to play a hand in anything? And more importantly what will Nazir do?  The game has changed for Brody and it’s going to be remarkable to see what happens next.


Scene of the Episode: Turning Point – This was another sensational cliff-hanger that once again changes everything in this show. The final few seconds were a masterful stroke on behalf of the director David Semel, showing Carrie’s realisation in that finale minute.

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