Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody and Damian Lewis as Nicholas "Nick" Brody in Homeland.
Morgan Saylor as Dana Brody and Damian Lewis as Nicholas "Nick" Brody in Homeland. (Kent Smith, SHOWTIME)

It might have been a much more tense conversation: Carrie confronts Mike about his continued meddling in the CIA's terror investigation. She knows all about where he's been snooping. She even knows about the affair with his best friend's wife.

That friend, of course, is Brody. And, you know, Brody and Carrie have something of a romantic entanglement themselves. Carrie opts for an emotional appeal, asking Mike to step back for the good of the woman he cares about, and he agrees. It's not easy to let go, she says, "not when you've chosen someone." So whose relationship was the subject of this conversation again?

Episode 7 of Season 2 proved momentous for nearly every character, but to a large degree, it also served as an explainer (presuming we take the characters at their words). Carrie is really stuck on Brody; he thinks she's using him but he likes it. Saul may be compromised by his loneliness. Jessica's sense of rectitude is an obvious reason why Brody hasn't been able to level with her.

Plot lines that have been in motion since the start of the season came together, offering the writers an opportunity to explore some of the underlying parallels and broader motivations. And yeah, sometimes they lay it on thick, but it's a Sunday night and we're tired.

The episode shifts between a fundraiser for presidential candidate Walden, where Dana threatens to derail his bid for executive office, and a federal prison where Saul works a convicted terrorist (and minor season one character) for information.

Compared to all the neck-twisting, a hand-stabbing, hit-and-running, and storefront ambushing that's been going down, things were pretty quiet -- though an attack on America seems to be growing closer.

Hosted by a wealthy Vietnam War veteran, the fundraiser takes place in a lush country home complete with woods, pool, and stables. The Brody and Walden clans are both in attendance, as was David Estes for some reason.

The host, Rex, doesn't think much of Walden, but wants to see Brody taken along for the ride as the vice presidential candidate on the ticket. Brody nods politely, and comes off as genuinely sad about the fact that his days as a congressman and potential vice presidential nominee are numbered.

Contemplating his grim prospects in the stables with a rehabbed horse (who should have, apparently, been sent to the glue factory long ago), Brody gets a call from Carrie, who is hiding in the nearby woods to say hello and provide some vague spy-related information.

There isn't really much to say, and within a few minutes these two are making out. From the looks of astonishment on both of their faces, it seems we are supposed to think that this was a genuine moment of connection, rather than an attempt by one to further manipulate the other. But hey, these are spies we're talking about.

Meanwhile, the kids are busy spoiling a perfectly nice fundraiser with their lingering hit-and-run angst. From the minute the motorcade pulls into the estate, Dana is haranguing Finn to join her in confessing their crime to the parents.

She finally spits it out, but as soon as the story is half way told, Mrs. Walden is already promising that she will "take care of it" – it, presumably, being a cover-up. Jess is horrified, and in a rare moment of engaged joint parenting, the Brodys determine that they will defy the Waldens' advice and go to the police.

It's an interesting development, in contrast to Brody's moral gyrations in his multi-layered secret life. Here, the "right thing to do" seems to crystallize for both Brody and Jessica without any need to balance priorities.

But when they pull up to the station, Carrie has beaten them there, somehow having gotten wind of the planned confession by way of Estes. She talks Brody out of letting his daughter come clean, since alienating Walden would risk the CIA's mission and render Brody less useful. Dana walks off in disgust as she realizes that her dad has been compromised by his political ambitions (true, just not in the way she thinks).

Meanwhile, Saul pulls up at a rural Pennsylvania prison to see if inmate Aileen can provide information about the mysterious shooter from last week's episode. The year has not been good to Aileen, who has been in solitary confinement and looks like dog food.

Aileen says that she will help, but first Saul must jump through hoops to get her reassigned to "a cell with a view." His attitude may be big-city and his grooming "devil-may-care," but Saul does come through. Unfortunately, Aileen feeds him false information and takes advantage of the distractions provided by her interrogation to commit suicide.

But not before he brings her bread, wine and cheese, dishes about his failed marriage and reminisces with his prisoner about the good times they had driving across country together. At the end of the episode, he admits that he let emotions affect his handling of the interrogation.

By the way, in case anyone cares, Quinn is fine and back to being a jerk. Galvez is not doing as well, and is expected to die. We expect a more action-packed, less brooding episode next week, judging from all the yelling in the preview.