Homeland, I owe you an apology. After castigating the absurdity of last week's episode, where both Brody and the plot got lost in the woods, you have completely redeemed yourself. 'New Car Smell' was a tense and nervy character study that renewed the cat and mouse game between Carrie and Brody and culminated in an explosive finale with the two at loggerheads.
Pack Your Bags
Initially, Brody tries to play happy families and pretend that his killing of the tailor never happened. Jessica is still upset with Brody's no-show at the fundraiser, and delivers her ultimatum: "I can't live like this. I won't. If you don't have something real to say to me right now, something true, you should pack a bag."
He promptly does so. Kicked out of his own home, when he meets Roya Hammad he tells her the whole incident with the tailor was "a travesty". That's putting it lightly. It seems strange that Abu Nazir, the al-Qaida architect who has been a thorn in the CIA's side for the past 10 years, would so recklessly use his prize asset in the halls of US government as a simple errand boy.
Brody might be trying to cover his tracks, and achieve the "new car smell", but his actions have brought him under the scrutiny not just of his wife, but his friends as well. Lauder turns up drunk at the Brody household demanding that his suspicions about Brody be heard. When he confides to Mike that maybe Brody and Walker were, "working together like old times," a part of it sticks, and the two resolve to investigate what role Brody may have with the CIA.
Little do they know that Brody is very much in the intelligence organisation's thoughts. In what has become a rather repetitive scene, Saul shows up at Estes's house and we get to see for the third time Brody's confession video. It's enough to convince the CIA chief, and he immediately pulls together a team to monitor the congressman. Resembling the very first episodes of the show, the Scooby gang of Saul, Virgil and Max are brought back together to endlessly watch video monitors charting Brody's progress wherever he goes.
And with the set-up of this operation Carrie is brought back to the fold. Estes manages a grovelling apology and says, "I feel like a complete heel," for doubting her all this time. Carrie's curt response of "that's enough" reveals that for her the video is not just verification but the engine that will drive them towards finally landing their long-sought target.
Estes doesn't appear to fully trust Carrie, as evidenced by bringing in Peter Quinn, a CIA analyst who Carrie has suspiciously never heard of. An abrasive figure, his direct questions such as when he asks if her relationship with Brody was "work or love?" rile Carrie because even she isn't sure of the answer. She agrees to follow his plan of running into Brody outside Langley in the hope it will spook the former marine into thinking they're on to him and calling his contact. Little did they know he would call Carrie and say that the two need to talk.
Burying the Hatchet
Brody asks her to meet him at the Ashford Hotel so that they can "bury the hatchet". At first, things go well, the two trying to tease information out of each other as Carrie subtly drops hints to Brody that she's close to nailing Nazir: "The head of the snake guy, who stole eight years of your life". But when the subject changes to more personal matters the façade starts to collapse. Brody apologises for the way he treated her and the electroshock therapy she had to endure. Carrie tries to dismiss the pain she suffered by saying, "Truthfully you don't feel a thing," but her confident exterior is dispelled for that one moment and the anguished persona appears.
We knew the encounter between the two couldn't end quietly. Carrie goes up to his hotel room for what at first appears an attempt to rekindle their cabin romance of yesteryear. But almost uncontrollably all that Carrie has been suppressing gushes out.
"Do I want to be friends with a demented ex-soldier who hates America? Who decided strapping on a bomb was the answer to what ailed him? Despite his daughter, his son, people who loved him in real life not in the mindf**k world of Abu Nazir. Who in the end didn't have the stones to go through with it but had no problem sending me to the nuthouse? I don't think I need a friend like that."
It was a masterful piece of acting between Clare Danes and Damian Lewis, with Carrie's fury fully unleashed whilst Brody's eyes frantically dart around the room seeking an escape. When he says to her, "I seem to be pretty good at this," it genuinely appears he's about to kill her until the CIA gun squad bursts in and arrests the congressman. A confused and desperate Brody states, "I liked you Carrie," to which she shockingly responds, "I loved you". All the hurt at the way Brody and the CIA have treated her comes to the fore, as an emotionally wrecked Carrie blurts out her true feelings for him.
We're only four episodes in and the show has already reached a heady crescendo. With Brody locked up and Carrie sure to be reprimanded for once again breaking protocol, it will be interesting to see how Homeland will develop from here. What we were shown is that surveillance works both ways, and that after Carrie and Brody's emotionally charged encounter the two's true feelings have been exposed.