Kent Smith/Showtime
Adam B. Vary
May 28, 2015 AT 04:56 PM EDT

And we’re off to the races! Abu Nazir kidnapped Carrie, let her go, and remains at large in the United States. Brody effectively murdered the vice president. Saul dug too deep in his investigation of Peter Quinn. Jessica is so over her husband. Dana is a shell of a human being. Chris suddenly realized his dad’s a jerk. Carrie really needs a shower. And, hey guys, Danny Galvez is back!

Meanwhile, the hour runnethed over with a string of remarkable two-hander scenes — Saul and Dar Adal, Jessica and Mike, Jessica and Brody, Brody and Carrie, Saul and Estes, Carrie and Abu Nazir, and Brody and Walden — not to mention several nail biting sequences and Jessica Brody’s best/only laugh-out-loud moment of the season. Everything felt keyed up into a new gear, as the show launched into the final few laps of what has been a two-season breakneck marathon between Brody, Carrie, and Abu Nazir. And because of the quickened pace and the nearing finish line, it was perhaps easier not to notice a few of the ungainly narrative leaps that have crept into the show. That is, if it wasn’t for Brody’s magic Skyping Blackberry.

I’ll get more into the gritty details behind this fabulously implausible device shortly. And granted, I didn’t know until Twitter told me that you can actually Skype on certain Blackberrys (provided you have Verizon in the U.S.) — so I can’t exactly fault the show for accuracy on that score. But more to the point: A) How did Abu Nazir get Brody’s Skype address? B) How did Abu Nazir get a good enough signal in the middle of nowhere to send streaming video to Brody’s phone? C) When did the CIA stop monitoring every moment of Brody’s phone calls — and if they did, why did they stop with Abu Nazir still at large? And D) Why didn’t anyone think to watch Brody like a hawk the moment Carrie went missing since everyone knows Carrie and Brody share a special rowdy sex bond, and Brody just very publicly betrayed the wanted terrorist who had kidnapped him via helicopter just days before?

Frustrating, nagging questions like these are what have kept the second half of this season from ever quite taking off as top-of-the-line drama like the second half of Homeland‘s first season — once you start pulling the dangling threads, things can begin to unravel quickly.

Still, there was much for me to love in this episode, and it started with the very first scene: Saul confronting Dar Adal* in the latter’s favorite Tuesday lunch spot: Walter’s Waffles. Setting aside for a moment that that kind of predictability is dangerous for a master spy (dangling thread #1), the setting provided F. Murray Abraham the opportunity to act while eating, which for a certain caliber of actor only makes the scene more delicious. To wit: “Little things I can count on mean more and more to me as I get older — you find that?” Is that a perfect opening line for a character, or what?

(*I feel compelled to use only Dar Adal’s full name; somehow just “Dar” or just “Adal” doesn’t carry the same spook-ish weight. I know, I’m weird.)

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NEXT PAGE: Dar Adal and Saul don’t mince words.

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