It wasn't just that Estes was using Saul's oversight against him that got to Saul. It was that he genuinely cared for Aileen, genuinely wished he could save her, and genuinely grieved for her death and his own responsibility for it. Estes was breaking the stitches in a still-fresh wound. And Saul "The Bear" Berenson began to roar: "You tell Estes no matter how many bulls--- charges he trumps up, I'm on to him. … You know what this is really about, do ya? Plan to assassinate a U.S. Congressman the second Abu Nazir is out of the picture. Why don't you ask me a few questions about that?"
Alas, the goon did not. Nor did he include Saul's outburst in the official report he handed to Estes the next morning, a report filled with self-incriminating admissions from Saul's own mouth. (I found it particularly chilling how nonchalantly the goon said his report could allow Estes to "refer [Saul] to harsher interrogations." Homeland's vision of clandestine American power isn't exactly brimming with Obama-era hopefulness.) But the goon did mention Saul's accusation to Estes, which Estes threw back at Saul when they finally met face to face. "We both know what Brody is, and Congressman is the least of it," Estes said. "We don't make deals with terrorists. And if he's confused about that, or you are, that's not my problem." The thing is, Estes is kinda right. Saul's umbrage at Estes' deadly plan for Brody smacks of exactly the squeamish sentimentality that made Dar Adal question why Saul even works for the CIA.
Of course, Estes had to take his anger with Saul even further, intoning darkly about how Saul — and I think by extension Carrie — "continually undermine" his authoritah. "I want you gone," growled Estes, brandishing his report and threatening to tie Saul up in bureaucratic purgatory if he didn't leave willingly. It was about as unequivocal as ultimatums come, but I can see it playing out in a few ways. One, Saul leaves willingly, and season 3 begins with a role reversal: Carrie officially back on the books at the CIA, and Saul living as a civilian trying to become the next Tom Clancy and failing spectacularly. Two, Saul reminds Estes that he also has a loaded gun implicating Estes in the illegal drone strike, and season 3 begins with both men locked either in a wary detente or a scorched Earth war of mutually-assured destruction. Or three, Estes dies (due to Quinn?), and Saul is saved.
This will likely (i.e. hopefully) unfold along some fourth option that hasn't occurred to me, but any way you slice it, Saul's future at the CIA has never been as tenuous as it is now. What that means for his future on the show, however, is much less clear, and for that, at least, I am grateful. While some of you can't imagine Homeland without Brody, I can't imagine it without Saul and his simultaneous grizzled wisdom and stubborn idealism.
NEXT PAGE: The CIA mole is finally resurrected