As much as I love Saul, I also really like that he is about to get punished for all the spy-snooping he has been doing, It's about time he faced consequences for being both so naive and so nosy, and him being called into questioning was an affective, not-distractingly-implausible moment for the show (see Homeland, you can engage us without making our eyes roll).
I still don't know how I feel about Carrie and Nazir's "who's the terrorist now" conversation. It definitely could have been a lot worse—a lot more preachy and cliche. But I don't know if it needed to happen at all. In the past the show has done a fantastic "show, don't tell" job of describing the different viewpoints of its characters; why did Carrie and Nazir need to state theirs so explicitly? Nevertheless, a Carrie Mathison "Bullshit!" is almost as gratifying as a Carrie Mathison chin quiver. A part of me does sort of hope Homeland rings out its second season with more Jack Bauer-type Carrie heroics, but that would deliver short-term gratification, not the long-term sustenance needed to bridge to Season 3.
Greg: Do we want Saul to be punished? He is the only one holding Estes' feet to the fire. While Saul is loyal to Carrie to a fault, he is the only one that seems to understand there is more going on than a terrorist sting operation. Dar Adul may have a point in saying Saul is "too emotional" for this line of work, but you can't knock the guy for doing his due diligence when he thinks something stinks about the entire operation. Carrie may be spouting that she'll do "whatever it takes" to stop terrorists, but Saul seems to be the only one actually embodying that in his actions.
A Carrie-Nazir confrontation needed to happen thematically, even if we have to disregard the fact that Nazir seems to be hanging out in abandoned warehouses 30 minutes from the home of American intelligence (which is a leap of faith I can't believe we have all been willing to take). For better or for worse, Homeland has morphed into a love story, and the depths of Carrie and Brody's relationship can't be explored unless we are given an impetus to it. So while we navigate the gray areas of how far the country is willing to go to protect itself, we are also weaving through the complicated array of feelings Brody is dealing with despite the fact that Carrie has moved between arresting him and saving him throughout the season—while decimating Brody's own family relationships in the process. It's an interesting dichotomy, but it's one I wish the show would just scrap altogether.
Tierney: I don't want Saul to be punished. I want Saul to move to my neighborhood and be my fairy godfather next door. But in terms of evaluating plotlines, I thought it was a strong one to emerge from this episode. For one, it's very well in the realm of possibility that Estes realizes Saul is uncovering his secret plot (in fact, we see how Estes came to this realization. How did Nazir figure out that Brody has such a soft spot for Carrie? If anything, Dana would be the obvious kidnapping candidate.) That Saul's fate is now in the hands of Estes—Estes himself a man of mysteries that need to be explored (affair with Carrie, date with Roya, not to mention to huge national security cover up he and Walden have crafted)—is an intriguing development I will be thinking about all week. Plus, I think Saul being taken in for questioning was a nice bookend to the way episode began—he and Dar Adul waxing poetically on the way things were.
I think you're right that Homeland is, to paraphrase the teenage wisdom of Dana Brody, not the show it was back then (back then being season 1). But that doesn't mean it needs to be jumping through every hoop all at once. My favorite episode so far was "Q&A," where 90 percent of the action was limited to a single interrogation, and yet it turned out to be an incredible paradigm shift for the entire series. To mix my metaphors, I fear Homeland is playing all its cards too quickly, and won't have any chips left for season 3.