The show picks up a day or two after the last installment ended, suggesting that this entire season has comprised just a few weeks in our heroes' lives. At Langley, the crew appears to have no idea what is going on. Carrie is the first to voice the possibility that Brody is already dead at the hands of Abu Nazir and Co. after they whisked him away by helicopter last week.
On cue, he calls her from a stranger's cell in (a glancing reference to) Baltimore and tells her he wants to meet. And that his family is in real danger. We're not given much time to wonder whether he'll get away. But maybe that's for next episode; it's pretty obvious that he gave Nazir up this time and he's going to be angry.
Carrie arranges for Mike to bring the Brodys to a super posh "safe house" for some R&R until the threat -- whatever it is -- subsides. Mike, of course, slips easily back into his stepdad role, yelling at Dana, sleeping with Jess, and whipping up a batch of huevos rancheros in the morning.
The floor-to-ceiling windows seem a little questionable for the family's security needs, but otherwise a little stay-cation in CIA care doesn't sound too bad.
Back at headquarters, Brody tells his CIA handlers that Abu Nazir is in America and planning an attack the following day at an event celebrating the homecoming of 300 troops returning from Afghanistan, at which Brody and VP Walden are scheduled to appear.
He also relates that he has told Nazir that his "love for his family" is what held him back from following orders to deploy the suicide vest in Season One, and he now understands that is family may be next on the hit list. Brody walks the spies through the rest of his interaction with Nazir, and while we know that he elided at least one detail (the praying), it's impossible to say whether the rest of his account is accurate.
Is he being honest? Is Nazir? On Carrie's advice, Estes decides to take Brody's account at face value and prepares to stage an high-stakes interception of the attack. Roya tells Brody that he can avoid the blast by hanging around the cameraman at the event.
In the middle of all this, we discover another layer of deception, as the identity of Quinn is revealed to be a cover. Saul has the surveillance fellows snoop through Quinn's apartment, which they find is rigged with sophisticated anti-spy gear and contains nothing but a toothbrush, sleeping bag, bag of gun-cleaning supplies, and copy of Great Expectations.
It's unclear how far Quinn has gotten into of this classic story of self-reinvention, but the photo tucked between the pages leads Saul to a Philadelphia cop who inadvertently confirms that Quinn (or "John," the father of her child) isn't who he says he is.
Alerted by his ex to Saul's incursions, Quinn runs out for a clandestine meeting on a moving bus with a mystery confidante. Saul identifies Quinn's contact as Dar Adal, a past director of super-super-secret operations in Somalia. Aside from the fact that Carrie was right (wow) about never having "seen him around" Langley before his assignment to this operation, neither Saul nor we have any clue what Quinn's real mission and background are.
In the morning, the gang is amped and ready to stop the terrorist plot against America and detain Abu Nazir, if all goes right. With Carrie watching Roya from the back of a black van, the plot appears to be moving ahead. As Roya orders fast food, her "camera crew" is in the parking lot switching out their "batteries" for some extremely heavy-looking electronics (i.e. bombs).
We see that one of the would-be cameramen is the shooter from Gettysburg, and Carrie thinks that Nazir is sitting behind the tinted windows of the crew's SUV. As the feds break their cover to arrest the camera crew and Roya Hamad, the SUV goes speeding off, only to be smoothly intercepted in a well-orchestrated traffic accident. Carrie runs out of her hiding place, victorious, but discovers that the man in the SUV is NOT their high-value target.
"Stand down!" Estes orders to Quinn, who is posing as the limo driver in Brody's driveway as the congressman/informant walks out to his ride. "I repeat, stand down!" Quinn puts away the gun he has drawn for no imaginable reason other than to kill Brody.
Given the circumstances, that's not great news.