But the original long-con plan that would have let Estes cover up his agency's incompetence is blown. An added complication is the budding romance between Finn Walden and Dana Brody—you're right, Homeland won't leave that stone unturned. Puppy love seems like small potatoes next to national security, but this show is just as interested in family dynamics and personal relationships as it is in foreign policy and international terrorism, so I think that conflict will get some play.
What did you think about Brody's building paranoia leading to the final scene? That, plus his family losing their faith in him, seemed like cosmic justice to me, after his actions led to Carrie's life falling apart last season. And what about Roya brushing off his concerns? I'm curious about this date she went on with Estes a while back. I hope they ordered Milano's veal bolognese.
Danielle: Nice catch -- I had forgotten about Estes and Roya getting dinner together. I agree that Estes is about to play a bigger role. Suddenly in this episode we got to see a bit more of him: he has a cute little Darth-Vader-wannabe son, and he acknowledges that he's vulnerable, no longer firmly on Team Walden since he can't tell Walden about Brody without being fired.
As for Brody's paranoia, I think it was fun to see him sweat. Carrie seemed like a problem he was done with for good at the end of last season, so I think for most of this episode he was off-balance just knowing he'd have to deal with her again. One thing I couldn't stop wondering -- how much is he playing Carrie, and how much is he still attracted to her? How much was he ever attracted to her?
Regarding Roya, I like how big of a role she's starting to play. She seemed like just a minor messenger that first time she met with Brody in his office, but increasingly she seems to be calling the shots, sending him running off to Gettysburg and now instructing him to get close with Carrie again. So in terms of her brushing off his concerns, I think it's possible that while she finds him valuable, she also may not care about him too much beyond what he can do for her/Nazir. It seems that her orders come from someone much higher-up.
Also, can we talk about Jessica? She's yet another victim of main-character's-buzzkill-wife-syndrome, like the wives on Dexter and Breaking Bad. Anytime you have a secretive, morally ambiguous male protagonist, you have him doing secretive, morally ambiguous things during dinner and upsetting the missus. It makes for a really frustrating character -- she's totally understandably pissed, but she's also ruining the fun! My point being that I really hope we get more action from her in the future as opposed to reaction (i.e., getting mad at Brody). But what else can the show do with her?
Tierney: I disagree about Jessica. Yes, she does play the nagging wife role quite often, but I think her character has really grown in the last couple of episodes, particularly with last week's speech. She clearly likes being in the public eye and handles it well. It's a stretch, but I wonder if she can play the scandal that is about to ensue to her own social ladder climbing advantage, or at least score a book deal out of it. But I think, if anything, we will be getting mainly more reaction from her (I can only imagine the coming meltdown).
I think more devastating to Brody was losing the support of his daughter, who had been his ally when Jessica wasn't. Dana's line: "By the way, your car smells like smoke," was just so cold and biting the way she delivered it. Which brings me to the last thing I wanted to bring up—the episode's title "New Car Smell." It's obviously a reference to the conversation she had with the car detailer (that scene also delivered a chilling insight to Brody's growing paranoia when he hears "blood splatter" instead of "mud splatter"). But I think it is also a clue to where this show is heading. Things might seem "good as new"--with "old Carrie" back and Brody exposed for what he is--but I don't think Carrie nor her relationship with the CIA is truly fixed.