written by Henry Bromell & William Bromell | directed by Clark Johnson
After a disappointing start to season 3, things start to take shape with "Tower of David"--ironically, by re-introducing Nicholas Brody (Damien Lewis), whose continuing presence is many people's top reason Homeland struggled last year. It's not that Brody's a bad character or that Lewis is a poor actor (quite the opposite!), but Homeland put too much emphasis on the romantic entanglement of Brody and Carrie (Claire Danes), when it would have been better to have him succeed in his original suicide-bombing. However, this episode was a grim and fascinating look at what Brody's life has become now he's the most wanted man on the planet; his hellish existence nicely paralleled in Carrie's own struggle in a psychiatric ward.
Lewis was typically fantastic throughout this hour; shaving his head for the role (a pragmatic way for Brody to avoid recognition, but also a dehumanising act), and doing a startling job playing a man at the end of his tether. This was a tough hour to watch Brody suffer through. His escape with help from Esme to a nearby mosque ended in Prisoner-style futility, as he was dragged back to the Tower of David and the folk who sheltered him murdered in their own home. So now he resides in a tiny concrete room, described as a cockroach by the doctor who's been injecting him with heroin to dull his body's pain. Can it get any worse? (I suppose Dana could call.)
I thought for a while "Tower of David" would be a Brody-centric episode, but it eventually blossomed into a story for Carrie. Their situations are quite similar at present (both outcast, imprisoned, plied with drugs), although naturally you'd switch places with Carrie in a heartbeat. It was nevertheless a good way to parallel the lows of these characters,and my guess is part of this season's arc will be them somehow reconnecting and clearing Brody's name in the eyes of the world.
Overall, this was a far more satisfying hour than the previous episodes and it was admittedly nice to see Brody again. Homeland would still have been better killing him off and starting a new storyline before now, but Lewis is a damned good actor and Brody's horrible situation is definitely compelling. It also reminded me a great deal of Prison Break—which also had a third season set in an infernal South American locale.
So what's next for our heroes? Can Carrie escape the mental hospital by striking a deal with the devil? Is Brody doomed to languish in another hole indefinitely, or will his next escape plan work better? And why is he being kept alive exactly? Is El Nino's employer planning to deliver him to the US authorities and claim the cash reward? That would seem unlikely if the pay out doesn't hinge on him being alive, so why can't he be killed?
- This episode was outlined by staff writer Henry Bromell, 65, who sadly died of a torn aorta before he could start work on it. His son, William, instead wrote the screenplay and now shares a credit with his father.
- If you're wondering, the Tower of David (otherwise known as the Centro Financiero Confinanzas), is a genuine building in Caracas. Construction began in 1990 but was halted in 1994 because of the Venezuelan banking crisis.