After an adorably slow reveal from Saul regarding the nature of Brody's confessional video, Estes authorizes an operation involving Nick's kryptonite -- Carrie Mathison, whose employment at the CIA is edging back towards probable now that last season's entire finale is proving to be one giant mistake on his part -- but led by a new guy, the enigmatic and oddly proportioned yet supernaturally beautiful Analyst Peter Quinn.
He looks kind of like if Orlando Bloom were playing Mr. Mxyzptlk or the Great Gazoo, and he is wonderful. He's been Estes's favorite for a while on the homefront -- even Carrie forms an instant bond with him, because he is interesting and weird and neurologically atypical and very, very good at his job. Oh, and also on the team are Virgil and Max! I never thought we'd see those dudes again! Nice.
But before we get into the operation, which is almost the entire episode: Dana sasses the Vice President gorgeously and in his own West Drawing Room or whatever, which pushes Finn all the way into being adorably in love. He takes her on a midnight jaunt up the Washington Monument and lays one on her, leading to one of the coolest and most charmingly authentic scenes in what I may in the future claim -- in retrospect, once the dazzle has worn off -- as the best episode of this entire show.
Meanwhile, Lauder is getting' his drunk sexy all over Jessica's house until Mike once again saves the day. Mike and Lauder put the pieces of Tom Walker's death together in almost the right shape, but for the fact that Jessica mentioned the CIA last week, so now they're thinking Nick Brody and Tom Walker were somehow working together that day the VP nearly died. Between getting stuck with Lauder and Nick missing the fundraiser last week, Jessica seems just about set on getting a divorce -- and underlines it by sending Brody to a hotel for the night.
Phase I of Carrie spooking Nick into running to his handler, then, involves randomly running into him outside of Langley, and you immediately see what's coalescing here: It's the old Hunger Game, Real Or Not Real, where they are both running into an old lover and "running into an old lover." The team misses it, but Nick does run straight to Roya, who tells him to stay the course and use his bond with Carrie to shake some trees in turn.
And so it is that in Phase II, while staking out the hotel, Carrie gets a call from Nick himself -- "This is not a booty call," he lie/truth/lies -- so she meets him at the hotel bar. He's operating and not operating on Roya's orders; she's operating and not operating on Quinn's; they're both authentically happy for a pretext to see each other after their random run-in earlier... It's dizzying and wonderful and a little overwhelming.
After a lot of fencing and a lot of flirting, Nick finally strikes a little too deep with questions about her ECT treatments. She drops her smile just long enough for him to make her, and he bounces. But Saul and Quinn back at HQ don't entirely buy this like spiritual connection they have, so -- against all evidence we have ever seen on this program, ever -- they second-guess her feelings on this and tell her to come back in, despite her protestations that he'll somehow signal his people.
Can you guess what her ass does next? Yeah, you got it. Right on up to his hotel room, playing the nookie card until her resentment rises from her gut like a giant barf and suddenly, radically -- I mean, you couldn't guess this next bit -- everything changes. Scrubbing the mission entirely, Carrie's off on a roll getting him to admit that he's an Al-Qaeda agent on tape, and admitting she was fully in love with him the entire time, and calling him a traitor to his country and his family, and telling him to fuck off for making her go crazy... All right before some CIA dudes come busting down the hotel room door, and put a big ol' black sack over his head.
So: What is left of the show you remember at this point? Because my God, do I love the one we're watching now.
Carrie was right.
Carrie's failures were not only Carrie's: They were Saul's, as her handler, and they were David's, as her boss. In front of David, Saul was embarrassed in one way; as colleagues they were embarrassed, together, in another. Saul is not a solemn man, exactly, but I don't know that we've ever seen this much ... glee, burbling underneath. And his reasons are clean.
Estes's kid answers the door in a Darth Vader mask, which could foreshadow almost anything at all on this show. Estes has a child, that's fascinating. Kenny's here for the week.
Lord Vader: "I am your father. Don't make me destroy you!"
Saul: "I like your kid."
David: "Something going on? Iran?"
Saul: "Hee, hee. Kind of!"
David: "Spit it out, Saul."
Saul: "This one time, VP Walden almost got blown up!"
Saul: "Remember when Elizabeth Gaines was shot and they dragged him down with the cronies? Remember? Do you?"
David: "Yeah, I was there, so..."
Saul: "You know who else was there? A person with a suicide vest!"
David: "That's a scary story, Saul."
Saul: "He made a videotape confession! I have it somewhere on my person!"
David: "Uh, can I see it?"
Saul: "Close your eyes and count to ten and I will hide it somewhere in this room! We can play Hotter/Colder!"
David: "Or like, you could just show it to me."
Saul: "David, do you realize how much fun this is? I'm a spy. Telling a secret is like, the one thing I never get to do! Let me enjoy this."
The whole dog-and-pony makes a lot more sense once David sees who's on the tape. He puts the facts together, collects and collates them in the same order Carrie did. There's no wrong more wrong than being wrong about being right: It's too mind-blowing to incorporate something like this into a previously self-consistent worldview, so you have to backtrack carefully. You don't want to end up questioning everything, if you see what I'm saying; you'd end up in color-coded Carrie Mathison. Hell, if you really paid attention to the cracks in what you think you know... if the world lined up in front of you to tell you exactly how wrong you were, and are; if they locked you up for being wrong when your whole body knew you were right.
Estes: "So why didn't he go through with it? Maybe he was tired after making this exceedingly long suicide tape."
Saul: "I don't know. Maybe something random like a crazy woman showed up on his lawn and activated his daughter's intuition with a magical touch, so she was moved by forces beyond her ken to place an unrealistically clear cell phone call to her terrorist father and ask him not to blow you up, without really consciously understanding either of those things were going on."
Estes: "That seems unlikely to say the least, but this show is really fucking good. It's okay to let those kind of things slide sometimes."