"So what's our move?"
Estes asks the question we've all been wondering since Saul found the memory card with Brody's confession two episodes ago.
Estes and Saul decide to put a tail on Brody after Estes watches what's on that card. While he's clearly a danger to the United States, his boss (Nazir) is an even greater danger. Had Nazir died in that episode, they likely would have had Brody arrested on the spot. But they need Brody to lead them to his handlers and, hopefully, ultimately to Nazir.
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This clearly puts Carrie back in play. Saul doesn't even need to suggest it, as Estes does first. He knows nobody knows Brody best, and because of their inappropriate, personal relationship, that Carrie is the best one to rattle Brody into doing something stupid -- like leaving a trail for the CIA to follow.
Estes even rewards Carrie with her old team of Virgil and Max, plus a new headquarters, with which to spy on Brody. Peter Quinn, a gruff and to-the-point person, is put in charge, and while he butts heads with Carrie frequently, like Estes, he sees her purpose. Though he has no problem introducing himself to Carrie as "the guy running things."
While Carrie and the team start monitoring Brody -- only with video at first, which means they can't eavesdrop on his conversation with Nazir's corrupt journalist -- he's got his own problems to deal with.
Jessica, still mad from the events of the last episode, gives Brody a choice. Come clean about what he's hiding. Or he's out. Rather than make up a lie -- because clearly he can't tell her the truth of what he is -- he opts for the suitcase, which Dana spots in the car when he drops her off at school.
The CIA later arranges a fake, spur-of-the-moment meet between Carrie and Brody at the CIA. Keep in mind, they have not spoken since last year's season finale when Brody gleefully saw Carrie lose her career because of her dogged pursuit of him.
It's Brody, however, who says hello first, almost in a friendly way, when he spots Carrie walking past him on the other side of a statue in front of the CIA. She casually brings up that she's consulting and he's rattled, but not visibly. But enough that Quinn and the team back at HQ know it worked.
And enough so that Estes actually apologizes to Carrie and tells her she did good work. While Estes is obviously put out by the baggage Carrie brings, and had to throw her out of Langley in last week's episode, after seeing the memory card footage for himself, he has no choice but to trust her and rely on her.
Later, Brody's friends continue to voice their own suspicions about what he's been up to. Louder thinks he's complicit in the death of Walker and tells his theory to Mike, who's definitely got a red flag up about his friend. This seems like a red herring given how the episode ends (but we'll get to that).
And in a subplot that goes nowhere but is clearly laying the groundwork for something later this season (perhaps the downfall of the Vice President's campaign because of his close ties with the Brody family), Dana goes on a date to the closed-off top of the Washington Monument with Walden's son, Finn. They almost kiss, but Dana reminds him of her boyfriend, Xander, who she pretty much wants to dump at this point (and tells Finn so).
Her dad is having similar thoughts. While getting drunk in the hotel bar he plans to spend the night at, he calls Carrie to meet up. He tells her upfront, "This is not a booty call," though you have to imagine on some level, both of them would maybe, kind of, want it to be.
Carrie again casually brings up Nazir in a non-obvious way, but she doubts herself to the rest of the team. She thinks she went too far. This isn't the self-assured Carrie we've seen over the last few episodes -- this is the crazy one from the end of last season.
She decides to go back to Brody's room, where the audience (myself included) thinks she wants to sleep with him. To gain the upper hand again? Or because she wants to? (Probably both, I think.)
But no. She pretty much calls him a terrorist to his face and delivers the speech we've been waiting for since we the audience, but not Carrie herself, were clued into the fact that he was indeed a terrorist in season 1.
Brody, surprisingly, almost gleefully, boasts of all he's gotten away with. It's as if he wanted to be caught because the bodies were starting to pile up: Walker, Nigel, etc. We've never seen him embrace the awful things he's done -- they cause him incredible guilt -- but in that speech to Carrie, he does.
"You're a disgrace to your nation," Carrie spits at him, before the CIA team bursts into the room and puts a black bag over his face. She even tells him she loved him, and you sort of think she did on some level.
It's not all triumph, as Peter and Saul look pissed as they watch this unfold back at HQ.
I said in my recap from two episodes ago
that when Saul found the memory card, I couldn't imagine Brody becoming a double agent for the CIA after all the awful things he's done. I even speculated that Brody would kill Saul to take that memory card out of play.
But the double agent possibility seems more and more likely. Because if they can't get Brody to play along with the CIA, they've lost all leads to Nazir.
Nazir is likely planning another terrorist attack since he obviously indicated Brody's long con of changing the United States from the inside was taking too long. This is a big deal and Carrie ... well, kind of blows it.
"New Car Smell" (any thoughts in the comments on the meaning of the episode's title?) was a slow build of an episode to an incredible climax. For those who were afraid of a merely retread of last season where Carrie tails Brody had their fears put to rest within 40 minutes. That's incredible.
It was daring for the producers of the show again to turn the premise on its head. First, letting Saul discover the memory card so early in the season. And now with Carrie calling Brody a terrorist to his face and taking him into custody.
We're still quite a ways away from this year's season finale. The speech Carrie gives was riveting... but also damning as she lost her best lead to the ultimate enemy and now Brody may no longer be of use.
While she gets to be the hero, it's fleeting. She may think this leads her back to the CIA, but if Brody is no use ... what use is Carrie?
(Image courtesy of Showtime)