Poor Brody. Caught between a rock and hard place, 'I'll Fly Away' was the episode where we finally see him first succumb and then snap under the immense strain of trying to toe the line between CIA agent and terrorist plotter.
Carrie's recovery might have been the focus of the first few episodes, but ever since then this season has definitely been the Brody show. Damian Lewis once again shows off his acting chops in an episode that spent much of the time in one gear, but paid off with the thrilling reveal of Abu Nazir on US soil.
"This is a nightmare"
"This is not okay", is what Brody screamed at Carrie last week after having to deny his daughter doing the right thing and telling the police her crime. When Jessica corners him and demands he rebel against the order of the CIA he almost bursts into tears shouting out, "I can't, I can't".
This is a man pushed to the very limit over the position he finds himself in. Turning double agent and having to constantly lie to Nazir's communicators was the price he was willing to pay in order to secure a future for his family, but after seeing the deceit infect his family life as well he's in danger of losing everything regardless of what he does. Regressing to the foetal position on the floor, when Carrie bursts in to revive him he says, "Everything's falling apart. This is a nightmare".
Carrie thinks her words have helped him focus, but Brody is adamant that he won't play this game anymore. Whilst meeting with Roya he severs ties with al-Qaeda by saying, "I'm through". The CIA is in uproar over the incident, as Quinn yells, "If they pick him up we do not know what he'll say". Carrie is optimistic that the mission is not over saying, "As long as his cover isn't blown he's still in play".
Cries of passion
She already has in her head a maverick plan to reel Brody back in to the game. Spending the night at a motel, Carrie tenderly tells the former marine that if he can help stop Nazir, his past crimes, "Wouldn't matter any more". The spark between the two that has been flickering ever since Brody's interrogation finally erupts into full-blown passionate sex.
Not only is the audience voyeuristically watching this intimate moment, but with their surveillance equipment the entire CIA team are as well. Whilst initially humourous when we see Saul's pained expression at having to hear Carrie and Brody's yelps of ecstasy, the scene quickly becomes farcical as the agents continue to talk over the two's coital grunts.
But Carrie's 'technique' clearly works as Brody is convinced come the morning to continue the programme. Saul is concerned that her stake in Brody is more than just professional as he warns her, "It ended badly last time, for you, for everyone".
We know that Carrie cares for her contacts, and is willing to go out of her way to defend them, but her relationship with Brody is clearly different. Her desire to see him help thwart Abu Nazir's plans stem not only from her patriotic duty but also from the glimmer of hope she holds that they could have a life together.
"Sorry" doesn't cut it
Brody's daughter Dana is also on the path to redemption. Rebelling against a family unwilling to support her decision, she spends the night at Mike's place. A perennially neglected character, Mike appears to be constantly waiting in the wings for whenever the Brody family members fall out. Dana shows her continuing maturity when she empathises with his situation, saying that it must have been hard, "Vanishing from our lives the way that you did".
He takes her to the home of the hit and run victim's daughter, so that she can finally confess her pent-up guilt. Inez recognises Dana from the hospital, but is not in the mood to hear her apologies. Saying that she's being paid to stay quiet she informs Dana, "You need to keep your mouth shut because if you tell anyone I get nothing".
Whilst this moment does reveal the sinister reach of Vice President Walden's political machine in keeping his election campaign on the rails, it is only too convenient that Dana's confession would have no everlasting consequences and subsequently be brushed under the carpet. With even the victims of the tragedy ready to live this lie, the brutally naïve Dana is left more confused than ever.
Flown the coop
Brody calls up Roya asking to apologise for his outburst, saying he's willing to still play for team Nazir. Unfortunately for him the suspicions have already been raised. Roya quizzes the congressman about his whereabouts, saying, "Where did you spend last night"? All of a sudden Carrie's plan doesn't look too clever.
Driving through open fields in the dead of night, the surveillance bods can't get close to Brody or Roya's rendezvous location. Carrie once again breaks protocol and dashes off into the fields, more like a crazed lover than a concerned professional. But by this time it's too late. The ominous whirring sound we hear is followed by the appearance of a helicopter that Brody is pushed in to before it speedily flies off away from the agents.
If losing their contact wasn't bad enough for the CIA the terrorist-in-chief they are hunting has brought his operations closer to home, as a perplexed Brody finds himself taken face to face with Abu Nazir.
Sporting a clean-shaven look and a sharp business suit the al-Qaeda chief is now in the States, and will be looking to use Brody to make his decisive strike against America. Will Brody wilt once more under the pressure, or has Carrie steeled him for this moment? Ponderous and paltry in equal measure, the last couple of episodes have done little to move the plot forward. With Brody now face to face with his demon, the sparks should start to fly.