As the episode picks up, Brody has spent 12 hours with Abu Nazir that we don't get to see, and as a result we spend the entire hour desperately searching for clues in Damian Lewis's guarded, dimly manic gaze. Were those 12 hours enough for Abu Nazir to flip Brody back to his side? (Carrie did it in fewer, after all) If not, then why does he seem so certain that Brody can be trusted? Can we believe anything that Brody says? It's an episode packed with layers upon layers of intrigue and paranoia, and made even more tense by the introduction of a threat much closer to home.
Brody's been wearing two hats since Q&A, but surprisingly (or perhaps not), the episode got its literal title from Peter Quinn, whose ambiguous motives and weirdly off-the-map origins were finally explained tonight. He's not an analyst, but a black-ops guy who is very much working for the CIA, but very much not in the way that Carrie and her team think. His job is to kill terrorists, and as the episode's final jaw-dropping moments confirm, that means Nicholas Brody.
So Estes gets his crowning douche moment of the series, with the revelation that he intends to have Brody iced the minute he ceases to be a useful asset. There is no deal. Now, we know that Brody's unstable and in theory unreliable, but at this point there's no clear indication he's doing anything but cooperating with the CIA (although... we'll get onto that in a moment). Taking him out seems like plain and simple murder, and while this is an intriguing new shade of grey to bring into the final trio of episodes, it's not going to be easy to root for Quinn going forward. We'd say the same about Estes, but really, has anybody ever been rooting for Estes?
Brody is an intriguingly unreliable narrator, and so when he was recounting his experience to Carrie and the team, talking about the car battery and the threatened torture, it was fascinating just trying to work out whether the visual flashbacks we saw were meant to be the objective truth, or the version of the truth he was telling, or maybe even the truth as he remembered it, in his traumatised and sleep-deprived state.
But later, we saw Brody intentionally leave out a detail of the story - where he prayed to Allah alongside Abu Nazir - and we saw it play out, which seems to indicate that we were seeing the reality of what happened, rather than an enactment of Brody's story.
If that's the case, though, would Nazir really have found it so easy to keep trusting Brody? Admittedly the excuse he gave about being afraid for his family was a good call and probably would have played as convincing (since it's not in any way a lie), but nonetheless, Nazir's talk about how he trusts in Brody because Allah trusts in Brody seemed awfully confident. Then again, he had just made what Carrie called "a clear threat" to Brody's family, so maybe his confidence came solely from the fact that he knew Brody would do anything to keep them safe.
What with all the intrigue surrounding Brody and Quinn, this was a comparatively Carrie-light episode, but it was refreshing to see her keeping it together so well under the circumstances. After last week ended with her screaming "They're gone. They're just GONE," this would have been a prime opportunity for some hysterical tears, but instead she was quiet and relatively composed and clearly going through hell, but keeping it all in. A nice change for Claire Danes's performance.
Meanwhile, on the home front, we have a confession to make. We were wrong about Mike. He lost us big time earlier in the season, with his dull-witted solo investigation and his being led around by an organ other than his brain, but he completely won us over this week with two key scenes.
First off, he told off Dana, and in doing so finally gave her the authority and sense of security she's been desperately needing. Her mini-tantrum about being moved from the house was supremely annoying and we were yelling inwardly for her to shut up and stop being such a brat. But instead, Mike was all "Get your s**t together, this is happening, and you don't speak to me like that," and it was awesome. Because as irritating as Dana can be, all the poor girl really seems to be looking for is some stability, and a sense that the adults in her life have things under control.
Secondly, we're all for bros before hoes, and so a big part of our warming to Mike this week was his acknowledging that Brody was once his best friend, and even semi-defending him to Dana. Brody really needs a bro. Can we get that on a T-shirt? It feels like a slogan that could catch on.
Brody really could use a friend, though (and not the kind of "best friend" who's concealing a handgun in his jacket, Quinn). Sad though it is to admit, the satellite phone call felt more like an intrusion than anything; the Brodys are more of a family unit without him, and it really showed. Although, did Dana really have to refuse to even speak to him? After how much of last season she spent favouring him over Jess, it's hard not to roll your eyes slightly at the complete surly 180 she's done.
But on balance, we were just fine with Jess slipping into the guest bedroom with Mike. This season's been distinctly sexually tame compared to the first, but between Carrie and Brody's shenanigans last week and this scene, they're certainly making up for lost time. Hell, Jess's negligee alone was more erotic than 80% of what's been happening this season.
We're sure viewers aren't going to be complaining, but would you really wear that to bed with your two teenage children, even if you were planning on slipping into the guest bedroom later on in the night? Dana has been through enough without having to wake up to an eyeful of her mum's cleavage, surely.
- The anger in Saul's voice as he watched Carrie and Brody sharing another tender moment was really telling. "This f**ker needs watching like a hawk." He's plainly sick of watching Carrie get yanked around emotionally, although it really did seem like Brody was being genuine with her this week.
- We don't want Brody dead, but it would almost be worth it to see how Carrie reacted to Estes when she found out. We're thinking she would straight-up claw his eyes out. Both sockets.
- So Quinn's only book is a copy of Great Expectations. Is he just brushing up on the original before seeing the new movie, or is there a deeper significance to the Dickens?
- It was sweet to see a bit of bonding between the Brody children this week, but really, could they be more hilariously at odds? Dana's all smart-mouthed and surly and knows way too much for her own good while Chris, bless him, is the human equivalent of a big, happy idiotic Labrador. "This place is sick! There's TVs in every room! Big screens!" Aww, all the better to watch sports on.
- Carrie and Brody meeting back at the place where they first "met", in the rain, made the romantic in us swoon just a little bit. DON'T JUDGE US.
- How did anybody in the CIA genuinely think that was going to be Nazir in the car? Why would he risk being out in the open like that? That really felt like a contrived moment of tension-building, presumably designed to distract from the real "OMG" moment with Quinn in the limo.
- The welcome resurgence of nudity this week did make us realise just how much less of Damian Lewis we've seen this season. We're not convinced that this is a good thing. At all.