Homeland, ‘Tower of David’ review: Must be some favour

“Why go through a world of trouble trying to save him instead of just collecting the reward?” 

Sgt. Nicolas Brody (played by Damian Lewis) is living in a perpetual state of fugue, constantly looking for that “next place” where the grass is greener. Only this time, the grass is just a big pile of concrete. Venezuela has sun, yes, walls made of concrete, more shady characters than there are types of grey, and even a mosque, but little grass. Brody wakes up and doesn’t know where he is, because he’s nowhere. Should he ask for a refund on that “insurance policy” that Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) gave him in the season 2 finale?

‘Tower of David’ is the strongest episode of season 3, but it leaves viewers with a weird feeling. Showrunner Alex Gansa is essentially pressing the Pause button in order to regroup around his Romeo & Juliet. ” The voices in your head are not your friends right now. You need to make them go away.” Dr. Graham (played by Erik Todd Dellums) will say this to Brody, but it’s advice that showrunner Alex Gansa et al. should keep in mind. Brody’s return had been spoiled in the teaser for this week’s episode in ‘Uh … Oh … Ah,’ but the specific details of that return remained unknown—no more. The first time we met Brody (played by Damian Lewis) in Homeland is after he’s rescued from Abu Nazir’s prison, after he has been broken and rebuilt. This week, Brody has the same haggard eyes as in that pilot episode, only he hasn’t been rebuilt yet. His body is only broken, bleeding profusely when he’s presented to El Niño, a new character played by Manny Perez.

This is where the favours start, and they don’t end until the very end of the episode. You scratch my back and I’ll save you from dying when you’re bleeding out by taking two bullets out of your gut. And I’ll leave you waiting for me at the front gate of the mosque. And I’ll bang my head against the wall. And I’ll let you shoot heroine yourself.

Brody is Showtime’s and Gansa’s offspring and in season three, they have finally given him up for adoption.

"Back to your room." Brody is back to childhood, cared for by a beautiful woman and fearing a strong man who protects him. @SHO_Homeland

In ‘Tower of David, ‘ Brody has been rebuilt physically only to be further broken down mentally by the end of the episode. Oh, it doesn’t come easy at first. Brody won’t accept that he’s stuck nowhere with no one that he cares about, and that there’s nothing to look forward to. He’s survived the attack from “those Columbians”—isn’t it always Columbians?—because Brody always survives. “You’re like a cockroach. Still there, after the last nuclear bombs go,” Dr. Graham will tell him. He’ll both say that he needs and that he can’t take his meds any more—and with Dr. Graham’s tendency to speak and operate in charades, the latter choice might be wiser. “We’re here, because the world outside can be judgmental and cruel. We’re here, because this is the place that accepts us. We’re here, because we belong here,” the Doc tells him.

But does Brody belong there? He can’t accept this place, regardless if it does him. He can’t accept that he’s come so far only to find himself right back in a makeshift Abu Nazir house, where this time he’s taken care of by the young child of his oppressor/friend. That’s where the light turns on for Brody—his Islamic faith will save him. “I’m a Muslim,” he tells Esme (played by Martina García), to explain why he thinks the imam will help him find the next place. But Muslim or not, it turns out that one needs more than a flickering light. The Wire has taught me that wherever you go, there you are. It’s what Brody is learning here too. He thinks he’s come such a long way when he really hasn’t at all.

Meanwhile, Carrie is still “sold down the river,” but she is now sleeping six hours a night and taking her meds (i.e. lithium in her case). She’s speaking much better than when she told Saul Berenson to take a hike last week, and she’s building a house—or is it a cabin in the woods?—with popsicle sticks. But still, she needs her meds. When she gets frustrated, she doesn’t take deep breaths and count to then—she bangs her forehand on the bathroom wall. She receives a mysterious visitor who’s not her ex-CIA boss, mentor, colleague, father figure, a man who’s on her side, but Carrie doesn’t trust him, or anyone really. She won’t let herself become an asset. She won’t let herself become what she has convinced so many other people to becoming for her. She won’t make the same bet that so many have made. You scratch my back, and then I’ll scratch mine again, if you will.

But as much as ‘Tower of David’ was about whom the viewers did see, it was also about who was missing. The beard at the head of the CIA (get used to this one, folks. I am really, really proud of it) was neither seen nor heard, and neither were his seemingly only eight CIA colleagues. (Seriously… depleted much, CIA?) Where was Senator Andrew Lockhart? Nowhere. And there was no way to tell if Dana took selfies and watched The Notebook. Likewise as to whether her brother Chris managed to eat a full meal for once. These are all vital questions.

One character shone brightest from his absence, however.

Twenty minutes in for this week's episode & still no sight of Peter Quinn. @SHO_Network give the people what they want! #AllInForPeterQuinn

You never know what you have until it’s gone, and this is true with Peter Quinn, the gift that keeps on giving. Where was he? I don’t know, but Homeland managed to pull me back in with The Wire alumnus Dr. Graham. #TheDocIsHere! 

I see Doc Frazier from #TheWire has reprised his role now in @SHO_Homeland.  Just a shade darker (and shadier?)

Dr. Graham may or may not be a doctor, but regardless his addition is great for the show. He works in mysterious ways, though his ills really aren’t mysterious at all—they’re right there when he strokes a boy’s hand when talking to Brody. Maybe he doesn’t strictly get off on breaking down hardened combatants.

But all told, I fear that Homeland showrunners are building their own house, one of an impossibly messy love story. Because if that’s the case, then the viewers probably hope that the house is made of straw or wood and not bricks, so that all that’s needed to wipe it off is one big blow. That next place in the show’s journey can’t, or shouldn’t, include Carrie Mathison’s and Nicolas Brody’s love story. The grass, here, has to be greener.