Futility Ranking Last Night's Homeland: The Mirror Has Two Twisted Faces

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Futility Ranking Last Night's 'Homeland': The Mirror Has Two Twisted Faces

By Cindy Davis | TV Reviews | October 14, 2013 | Comments ()


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.

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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!”

Other thoughts:

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”:

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Jiffylush

    Just a note on the bipolar aspect.

    I do not see a lot of relatable characters or even people on TV when it comes to bipolar disorder. When Stephen Fry was on Craig Ferguson and they did their one on one he said something that I completely identified with and so far it has happened twice with Carrie.

    I think her portrayal is great, over dramatized of course but it is TV. It really seems like one of the writers has first hand experience or is getting a lot of help from someone that does. She says so many things that I can relate to.

    Everything she said when she was talking about how everything was fine without her meds and she was running everyday and had started meditating could have come out of my mouth a few years ago. Both exercise and mediation or whatever helps you calm your mind and get back in control when things start to speed up do definitely help and I know a lot of people who are able to maintain with just that. Keep in mind that there are different degrees so while that may be doable by certain people with cyclothymia or BP II it certainly won't be a long term solution for everyone.

    Anyway, loved this episode and can't wait to see the next one.

    Side note: I live in Charlotte where this is filmed and seeing Morena Baccarin at the pool or the grocery store is something I will never get used to.

  • alwaysanswerb

    Loved the recap, and this episode. Two compelling stories told beautifully in parallel. At the last shot of Carrie sitting in the corner, I said out loud to myself, "Damn."

  • Mrs. Julien

    Cass Winthrop!

  • Melissa D

    YES! I met him once when I was in Jr High. He came to the mall. I asked him some stupid question just so he could look at me, and he looked me right in the eyes when he answered as I went all starry-eyed. And he is STILL smokin'. If Carl is the man who wants to see Carrie, this show will own me forever.

  • Blake

    First Carver now Robert Ruby and Dr Frazier / Luther Mahoney (for you Homicide fans) what Wire actor will appear next?

    Kima? Bunk? Prez? I'm hoping it's 'Gus' Haynes / Meldrick Lewis
    Clark Johnson has directed several episodes and I miss him.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Great recap Cindy. I have some thoughts:

    1) I thought they killed it with Brody's re-entry. The setting around hi-rise was wonderful and the actors nailed it.

    2) The Carrie stuff was good but honestly I thought this was Brody's episode. I get the juxtaposition now, but initially watching it I was always waiting for them to get back to Brody. Which I never thought I'd hear myself say.

    3) I need to redo my 5 because HOLY SHIT ESME!!

  • Dominic

    Re 2) Both were a metaphor for people living in the prisons of their own mind .. Even halfway around the world . Including every Human in that Tower
    Brody's story seemed to be a complete chapter unto itself . while Carrie's story left you anticipating a finish / new twist

  • Sean

    Actually, wouldn't it make sense to dump Carrie and Brody after this season? Their stories will be played out after this season. Keep Saul, and bring in new threats, and characters. Have Saul trying to keep his moral center, while dealing with the political system he hasn't had to deal with that much. Also get him laid.

  • Dominic

    EXCEPTING the fact that Danes is THE producer now , not just the top-billed star . Hard for a Hollywood type to ' take a bullet for the team " , so to speak . More likely her character gets redemption
    Brody , however seems on the way out . . a cockroach can only hang out so long until somebody steps on it ...

  • Sean

    She could still produce. It seems totally illogical that Carrie would allowed any government job at all at this point. She wouldn't even be allowed off the freeway exit to Langley now.

  • Dominic

    yes I think she'll stay Exec Prod for as long as the show goes on . My comment was more about an actor's ego than about storyline logic . If this is YOUR Show ( which it is ) it's hard to give up the InFront of the Camera time. and Hey , a New Administration can clear her as easy as the current one helped frame her ...

  • Dominic

    Which you may see happen next episode .. Or sometime before Episode 10 , say

  • Drew28

    Haven't we seen the guy Carrie is talking to in the preview for next week before? And didn't Quinn tell Carrie he was in South America. These thugs seem more like Quinn kinda guys than Carrie kinda guys.

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