Futility Ranking Last Night's 'Homeland': The Mirror Has Two Twisted Faces
I’m sure there’ll be a lot of the usual bitching and moaning, but I quite liked this slow-burn third episode, “Tower of David.” As underground pedophiliac doctor (deliciously played by The Wire alumni, Erik Todd Dellums) explained to Brody, the Caracas building in which our antihero finds himself trapped—“this abscess beyond healing, we call home”—is named not for King David; rather, David the banker who commissioned it, then died. I thought the episode might revolve entirely around Brody; a tribute to his glaringly obvious two-episode disappearance. It could easily have been (ahem) carried off, but instead we got a tale of two characters—medicated, trapped and desperate, with no way out.
Brody: Having managed to escape the country after the bombing he’s suspected of, Brody was badly wounded by Colombians as he crossed the Venezuelan border. Rescued by a benefactor called El Niño, who cites Carrie as their connection, Dellum’s medical skills save Brody’s life; his drugs ease Brody’s pain. But the minute he feels even slightly able to sit and get out of bed, Brody wants out. He’s even more determined to leave after the thief who stole his wallet and watch is unceremoniously tossed off a high story by El Niño’s men. Though warned there’s a ten million dollar bounty on his head, Brody can’t stand the idea of being held captive again. He convinces Niño’s daughter Esme to sneak him to a nearby mosque, where Brody’s convinced he’ll find temporary refuge. And indeed it seems he does; but after a moment of peacefulness and the relief of a hot shower, he’s snapped back to reality by extremely rude police who punch him and drag Brody out. Before Brody can even digest the imam’s timely words—“You’re not a Muslim, you’re a terrorist”—El Niño strikes again. His goons shoot the apprehending officers as they exit the mosque, and Brody is again “rescued;” his protests ignored as both the imam and his wife are also gunned down. Now truly imprisoned, lectured on his cockroachian ability to survive while everyone around him dies, Brody ostensively gives in and shoots up with the drugs conveniently left by his side. But you and I know he’ll never stay this way, trapped in a citadel jail, any more than Carrie will submit to her psychiatric prison.
Carrie: Though at first she seems calmer and resolute to her fate, it soon appears as if Carrie isn’t entirely medicated. Last week’s slack-jawed stupor has rounded out enough that her responses to her doctor (Stephen Schnetzer) are self-aware, and Carrie wants Saul to know she’s “better.” But it’s not long before we see her calmness is just veneer; frustrated and still paranoid when the session doesn’t go where Carrie wants…when she can’t find solace in her popsicle stick house, she runs to the bathroom to violently bang her head against the mirror. Whether Carrie is able to sidestep her meds somehow or is incorrectly dosed remains to be seen. Luckily, she has a nurse on her side who’ll cover for the head-bashing and sneak her out to meet—not, as Carrie hoped—Saul (I half-expected Quinn), rather Paul Franklin, an attorney working for some mystery man who wants to meet with Carrie. Immediately and rightfully suspicious, Carrie mentally works through the possibilities. Either she’s being tested by the CIA, or recruited by a foreign government who wants her to divulge information. Carrie tells Franklin she’s not buying what he’s selling, but as she steps back into her (poorly) locked—down facility, it’s clear that staying indefinitely is not an option for her any more than Brody’s walled-up hole is for him. And this is where Homeland excels, putting its characters into seemingly impossible situations—and giving them unexpected ways out.
It was interesting to observe the myriad expressions crossing our intrepid prisoners’ faces. She may have wiped away a few stray tears, but Carrie didn’t ugly cry, and Damian Lewis returned entirely committed to an impressive range of facial calisthenics. It was good to see Brody back; even better to have him kept entirely separate from Carrie. The whole idea of romance between these unsuited characters left a weird taste in our mouths that needs not be revisited. I’d much rather see them paralleled like this, and would even find it more satisfying if Carrie’s presumption that Brody is innocent gets turned on its ear…again.
Episode Futility Rating: Code green (3 out of 10). No situation (on this show) is futile. Though Brody and Carrie are both seemingly trapped with no way out, we all know they’ll be on their not-so-merry ways before we can yell, “I need my meds!”
We asked for it, we got it: No Dana, no Jessica, no Chris and thank the gods, no laundry room.
Also, sadly no Quinn or Dar Adal, and no Saul. Though I enjoyed the “Fly”-ishness of the episode, I’ll always want to see these three. If Homeland goes belly up, we’ll need a spinoff for the boys: Dirty Saul and the Black Ops?
Writer Henry Bromell (Homicide: Life on the Street, Brotherhood, Carnivàle), who died this past March (and was awarded a posthumous Emmy for last season’s “Q&A”), penned part of this episode—his son William finished it.
Here’s a behind the scenes look at “Tower of David”:
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