Homeland: Tower of David Review

Nicholas Brody is finally back! The jury is still out on whether Homeland is.

Tonight on Homeland, we are getting a series reboot…again. It was clear after Season 2 ended on the questionable decision of Langley going up in a puff of smoke that Season 3, no matter what turn it took, would have to be a “rebuilding year.” If the first two seasons of Homeland were about Carrie being convinced that Brody is a terrorist, and her pursuit of said POW leading to a nest of moral ambiguities for American audiences, then it has been a nine-month curiosity about what Season 3 would offer after that was wrapped up with fiery bow. Three episodes into the relaunch, I’m starting to question if the writers even know what the new tone should be. This episode is titled “The Tower of David,” because much of the hour details the highly anticipated return of Brody. What has our ginger-haired hero been up to since we last saw him go on the run with Carrie’s faux-passport? Well, we aren’t exactly sure. He headed to Canada last season to meet one of Carrie’s contacts and he is now in Caracas, Venezuela. He has also been shot. Repeatedly. How or why? It is a mystery, but he’s got a bullet in him and he is in a dingy place that looks a whole lot like a prison. That’s right, Brody is in a grimy third-world cage. Why does this all seem so familiar? Fortunately, several characters appear to posit that Brody is actually a guest, as requested by Carrie Mathison. This news is sprinkled in by three dutiful concierges working the proverbial desk. There is the head guy, who seems to really dislike Brody’s Americanism yet strangely feels obligated to keep him safe on behalf of Carrie (a world away and oblivious to their current location), and his daughter as rather stock versions of the untrustworthy contact and the helpful jailor. As it turns out, this is a prison, and Brody is not allowed to leave. Again. Even Brody is getting déjà vu to Iraq. Luckily, he has the head honcho’s daughter who like every other woman falls for the former Congressman’s red locks (though they have been shaved off). Lastly, there is the doctor who is as much a prisoner as Brody, but as sadistic as his captors. He also helpfully reveals that Brody is in a giant, dilapidated skyscraper—the unfinished relic of a banker who died. Now it is a cloud-kissing slum and a wonder to behold in terms of aesthetics and television scope. However, despite us only ever glancing Brody’s earliest imprisonments through flashback, it all feels exceedingly redundant. If Brody is our protagonist, why do I care so little about his current plight? The episode bounces back a bit after the half-hour mark to D.C. It is there that we are reminded of Carrie’s equally dire situation, considering she has been in a psych ward for three weeks. She is taking her meds like a good little girl (and honestly it is probably for the best), as well as sycophantically praising Saul and the CIA all the way up to High David. Anything is better than staying there. Yet, every statement she makes is judged and quantified as quirks of craziness by her keepers who smother her with patronizing hugs. It is enough to drive you nuts. And that is more or less the whole hour. Obviously, the writers were very aware of the reflective hells that Brody and Carrie find themselves in. One is a “guest” with people helping him in her name to an overlook prison cell, and the other is being “helped” by white coats whom are little more than the CIA’s babysitters. It does not exactly make for riveting television, especially in a series that was once known for its thrilling pace and breathless entertainment.  Homeland has apparently taken the criticisms of the second half of Season 2 to heart and is concordantly much more grounded than it has been as of late this season. Nonetheless, the feeling that things are drifting away into the wide blue yonder of televised ambivalence is still creeping back up the mast like a particularly bad case of barnacles. Brody uses the boss’ daughter’s crush to smuggle himself to a mosque where, in the best line of the night, he is promptly turned over by the Imam to local authorities for being “a terrorist.” In response, the strange men keeping Brody—and who have saved him from a gunshot wound still never explained—kill the Imam and all witnesses…just so they can lock Brody up in an even more desperate cell. If they really dislike Brody so much, to the point of saying “You can eat here, shit here, die here,” then why bother rescuing him at all? A favor?! What could Carrie have done that they would risk murdering cops to save Brody, only to lock him up immediately afterwards? And for that matter, if Carrie was so important to this little group, how did she NOT know that they are in Venezuela, and probably not in the former Chavez palaces at that?! It is a stark location that compliments Carrie’s loneliness nicely. On paper. Over the course of 50-plus minutes, it meanders and pads out a plot for a show that once never wasted a millisecond. And now, I fear that it could all become a waste. That growing sense that the whole story really did end in “Q&A,” and that we are stretching this past its expiration date tickles the back of the mind like a pesky clue in the latest Brody Conspiracy Theory. This problem is exacerbated too whenever Brody is onscreen. Damian Lewis is great as Brody, but at this point I am not sure if Brody is great for the show. Take the final two moments for each character. Carrie gets the only nugget of the night worth holding onto: A mysterious law firm wants to take up her case. Whether they really want to protect Carrie or if they want to use her for their own ends is left unknown, but in spite of the lady protesting, it is all too obvious that Carrie will soon take their offer to escape her smiling chains. Carrie’s first assumption is that they’re “Israeli” or some other covert operation trying to turn her into an asset. She is only half right. I am near convinced that they are connected with a political organization or lobbyist that for an unknown reason has its sights on doing real damage to the CIA in the press. And that could be interesting drama for next week! Oh and Brody gave in to taking the heroin that his creepy doctor has been trying to hit him up with all episode. Because opportunities for advancement only grow when speedballing some smack, right? Den of Geek Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars


2 out of 5