Monday, October 22, 2012

'Homeland' Review - 2.04 New Car Smell

        On the newest episode of Showtime's Homeland, Estes authorizes a covert operation to purse intel recovered in Beirut; Brody reels from his recent misadventures and gets another shock when he runs into Carrie at Langley; a casual invitation turns into an encounter neither of them could have foreseen; and Dana discovers she has something in common with Finn Walden.

        On season two of Homeland, we have come to expect a shocking twist at the end of each episode that is set up to completely baffle the audience how the series is able to pull off such creative storytelling risks as well as how could they possibly top themselves the next week. Each reveal so far in season two is a twist that any lesser show would wait on until the finale. But Homeland isn't doing anything slowly this season. They are just pulling out twist after twist after twist. Each one enhances the overall story while completely throwing the audience through a loop. That is a great and effective way to tell this story.
        Tonight's closing minute twist may perhaps by the riskiest move the show has ever taken. Carrie revealed to Brody that the CIA knows everything about him and he was subsequently arrested. This final act twist sets the series off to yet another new direction and I cannot wait to see how they can handle eight more episodes of this caliber of storytelling.
        This episode was also the rawest episode so far in the second season. The past three episodes were heavily handled by the plot. Although I found those episodes to be just as fantastic as this one, they were subjected to many plot contrivances that the viewer would just have to accept for the narrative to work. This episode brought things back down in intensity and allowed the character's reactions and ebbs and flows of setting up the new surveillance to be the true narrative. The show also does this narrative extremely. It is also immensely helped by the great chemistry that Claire Danes and Damian Lewis have - as the two share their first screentime together this season to humongous effect. Those last fifteen minutes will be the predominant reaction people have to this episode - and rightfully so because of the insane amounts of tension, chemistry and that twist.
        But off course, there was more to this episode than just those final minutes of Danes and Lewis sparring off against each other. The episode did a fantastic job of setting the new intel on watching Brody and in introduction the Peter Quinn character. There was just enough there for me to gravitate towards Quinn as a likable entity but also enough mystery to make me heavily suspicious of him moving forward. Everything this show does is deliberant so Carrie questioning his backstory should definitely be raising your red flags.
        The episode also featured two subplots involving Dana and Finn Walden as well as Mike and Lauder. I may not like the amount of screentime that Dana and her individual stories get but I actually have respect for what the show is trying to build with this new relationship. It also helps that Finn is an immensely more fleshed out character than Xander. The scene at the Washington Monument was gorgeously shot and right now I'm looking forward to this couple - as long as they don't veer off into angsty teenage drama. On the other hand, Mike (and subsequently Lauder) continue to be such a waste of time and space. Sure, Mike was interesting at the start of the series but now he is completely pointless. The show really needs to just severe all ties to that character. I mean the main plot is driving towards this big blowup where Carrie gets Brody arrested for his terrorist acts and yet the show wants to spend two scenes with these two guys contemplating that it is possible that Brody and Walker where up to something the day Elisabeth Gaines was shot? It just makes no sense.

So what did everyone think of the episode? Excited by the return of Virgil or by the addition of Rupert Friend to the cast? Share your thoughts in the comments.