The problem with television dramas is that you have to eagerly wait a whole week to find out what happens next in the story. After Carrie and Brody's explosive confrontation at the Ashford hotel last week, where she denounced the former marine as "a disgrace to your nation, a traitor and a terrorist," you were left desperate for the next episode as soon as possible. Maybe this is why when we first see Brody in that dank and dark CIA basement it felt as if he had been waiting ages to be interrogated. 'Q&A' as the title suggests was an intimate and engrossing episode that focused on the back and forth exchanges between Carrie and Brody. The CIA agent delicately probes information out of the would-be terrorist through exposing his lies, and telling her truths. The stakes were raised as Brody came to terms with the severity of his situation, and Carrie decided to lay all her cards on the table.
Good Cop/Bad Cop
Seeing as he's already spent eight years of his life in the clutches of al-Qaeda, you'd think Brody would be more adept at suffering an interrogation. But when we see him here, convulsive foot and all, he appears a heavily perspiring wreck. He's not the only one in trouble. Carrie pleads to be involved in discussions with Brody but is curtly dismissed by Saul for her reckless actions previously by telling her, "You're lucky you're in the building". Step-up Peter Quinn, the CIA analyst whose main talent so far appears to be getting under people's skin.
He uses that skill to sensational effect against Brody, getting the accused to reel off lie after lie about Nazir, Issa and being involved in the bomb plot before knocking him down by showing the confession video he made. The unsteady handheld camera work matches Brody's current state of mind, as it claustrophobically remains tight on the man who is feeling the walls close in around him.
This is all ruined when Quinn suddenly stabs Brody in the hand. But fear not, for rather than actually losing his temper, the violent outburst was all part of his ingenious act. As he pompously remarks to Saul, "Every good cop needs a bad cop". Excusing the fact that we've just seen the CIA resort to violence as an acceptable means of interrogating a suspect (it isn't), Quinn's sudden savagery seems more of a clunky way of getting Carrie to talk to Brody rather than a clever ploy that would have really weakened him.
"You're not a monster"
In steps Carrie to 'save the day' by talking to Brody, an exchange that is not only the shining light of the episode, but perhaps the entire show up until this point. She immediately tries to distance Brody from both Nazir and Vice President Walden, telling him, "You're not a monster". If there's one crime Brody can be accused of, other than murdering his fellow terrorists, it's the lies he has told everybody he has interacted with since returning from Iraq, especially to himself. Carrie notes that telling the truth can help when she says, "Wouldn't it be a relief to stop lying?"
She then delivers the killer blow that catches Brody off guard by declaring, "Brody, I want you to leave your wife and children and be with me". What's so fantastic about this exchange is that like Brody, we have no idea how much is manipulation and how much is truth, leaving us to suspect it's a bit of both.
"He systematically pulled you apart Brody, piece be piece, until there was nothing left but pain. And then he relieved the pain, and he put you back together again as someone else," Carrie notes about Abu Nazir.
She's done the same here, breaking down the barriers Brody had put between himself and the rest of the world to reveal a lost soul who is confused over where he stands after the war. It's now her and the CIA's job to reconstruct his identity on their side, as someone who is willing to betray Nazir and foil his plot, and as someone who stands for his own issues rather than suffer being the pawn of others.
If Brody could be said to be on the path to redemption, then his daughter Dana is in danger of heading towards destruction. That might be overacting to the events of the episode, but the moment where whilst with Finn they accidently ran over a pedestrian is shocking not only in the action itself, but in how the Vice President's son reacts afterwards. In a panic he says that, "If anyone finds out about this my life is over," and speedily drives off away from the civilian lying gravely injured on the street.
Similar to how we've seen both Brody and his father react, he turns towards deceit as a way of protecting himself, rather than addressing the consequences of his actions and the harm he has caused to others. Dana is stunned by the whole affair, not realising who exactly she has gotten involved with. Her relationship with Finn might only be in its infancy, but she's not going to want it to follow the same trajectory as that of her parents.
"Your father is coming home"
It's the love for his family that kept Brody from blowing himself up at the end of last season, and it's that love again that makes him talk to the CIA so that he can return home. Jessica doesn't want to hear any more lies from him and so Brody reveals he's working with the CIA, "helping out on matters of national security". Whilst this is telling he truth, it does conveniently mean he can say he isn't allowed to tell her any more than that. But as Brody decided not to go through with his terrorist mission it's fair to say his home life shouldn't be destroyed. In the end, after all he's been through, the former marine can be glad that he still has a family he can come home to.
Which is more than can be said for Carrie. Her revelation to Brody that she wanted to spend her life with him stung because part of it was definitely true. When she returns to her cold and empty apartment, we are reminded of what little life she has outside of the intelligence agency. Brody's decision not to blow himself up was ultimately a decision not to sacrifice his family. The tragedy for Carrie is that she has no family at all, and has sacrificed everything in order to bring down Abu Nazir. Would a life with Brody remedy this? It's a question she seems destined to keep asking.