Well golly gee, Homeland, after watching your super-depressing episode "Tower of David," I may just shoot up some heroin and numb myself with a bottle of Lithium. This was either one of the series' most poetic installments, or one of its most useless. Several hours after watching it, I still don't know, but I'm leaning toward useless, given that it did nothing to develop a sense of identity for Homeland's struggling third season.
But one thought that is clear in my head is the question I keep asking over and over again: "Can I have Homeland back? Please?" Season 3 has been more like one of those between-seasons web series that networks make to keep insatiable fans happy. The three episodes we've seen so far have looked sort of like the Showtime drama we remember from seasons past. I recognize many of the characters, like that crazy CIA lady and that mopey teen daughter and Old Beard Guy, but the storytelling is all over the place. What story are the writers trying to tell here? Because it's not about domestic terrorism, it's not about national security, and it's not about star-crossed lovers.
So what is Homeland's third season about? Aftermath, I guess. The kind of cold aftermath that's depressing, uncomfortable, and slowly eats away at your gut. We've seen Carrie forced into a dulling, drug-assisted stupor; post-suicidal Dana is throwing herself into teen sex; and Saul is behaving like an upper-management dick. And now we have Brody, resigned to riding the White Horse instead of fighting back against the captors who are preventing him from going on the run. This season of Homeland isn't a war on terrorism, it's a war on optimism. "Tower of David" had its moments—there was something beautiful about the picturesque views of Caracas and the people who live there—but by the time the soul-crushing ending came around, I wanted to dive headfirst into a wood chipper.
"Tower of David" marked the not-so-triumphant and hairless return of Nicholas Brody, who we last saw skipping country after he became the most-wanted man in the world for (maybe) playing a role in the bombing of the CIA Headquarters at Langley in the Season 2 finale. And you know what? His life SUCKS now. We don't know where he's been, but we know where he ended up: Venezuela. Lucky for the gringo, an associate of Carrie's took him in and brought him to a doctor to remove a bullet that some random Colombians put in his gut. And the emergency surgery happened in the bowels of a parking garage. It doesn't get more sketchy than that.
But that's Brody's life now, sketchy situation after sketchy situation. It comes with the territory of having a $10 million bounty on your clean-shaven head. Most of the first half of the episode saw Brody exploring his new digs, the so-called squatters' paradise known as the Tower of David in Caracas, where construction was halted before the all-important outside wall could be built, resulting in Homeland's version of Game of Thones' sky prison of the Eyrie. Brody tried to escape, but all it got him was a bunch of dead Muslims and an interrupted shower as his captors dragged him back to the Tower and put him up in a cell with even fewer amenities than the junkie room he was sleeping in before.
Halfway through "Tower of David" the action shifted to Carrie, which seemed like a relief until it became obvious that her situation was only a teeny-tiny bit better than Brody's. Carrie was back on the juice, able to go three full minutes without erupting or spewing conspiracy-theory nonsense. She was lucid, or at least pretending she was, slipping up only slightly here and there. But the most telling aspect of her recovery was her repeated request to apologize to Saul. Either she really meant it, or she'd been so beaten down by the rigamarole of the psychiatric ward that she was able to swallow her pride and do anything to get out. Whichever it was, it reflected a Carrie who was trying to play by the rules of the system rather than force her own line of thinking on it. Does that make her a healthier Carrie? It stands to reason yes, but her illness has always prevented us and everyone around her from fully trusting anything she says.
Carrie was also obsessed with some strange visitor who came to check on her, and the little girl in her believed it was father-figure Saul quietly making sure she was okay. But no! It was a lawyer who promised to help her get out of the crazy hospital if she met with his partner. I immediately assumed it was someone looking to take on Carrie's wrongful treatment case, and that the rest of Homeland would be shot in a courtroom, but Carrie mind jumped to much more nefarious thoughts: She suspected that the lawyer represented Syrian, Iranian, or other America-hating parties looking to recruit Carrie to work against the U.S. and its intelligence agencies. You know, the same country and agencies that locked her up and shot her full of drugs to get her out of the way—or, as Carrie put it, had her committed because they didn't have anywhere else to put her. The patriot in Carrie immediately threw this option out the window and was offended that someone would even consider that Carrie would turn on her country. I suppose it should be noted that we don't really know why the lawyer was there.
"Tower of David" really put on its frowny face at the end, when the recaptured Brody chose to shoot up some heroin rather than explore the alternative, which was to not shoot up heroin. Far be it from me to make judgments (put a bowl of onion dip and Ruffles in front of me and I will embarrass myself with an insatiable veracity), but WOW! Really, Brody? You're in the hole for 45 seconds and you say, "Fuck it, I'm doping"? I would have waited at least an hour. I know the show already planted the hunger for heroin in Brody as a treatment for pain and probably to keep him complacent, but in this case, Brody took it out of boredom, a sense of futility, and maybe because he felt bad about getting his Muslim friends murdered. This is a man who has obviously been globe-trotting on the run for what, six months? He encounters this one obstacle and now he figures he'll become a smackhead? If Homeland spends more than one minute on Brody becoming a heroin addict in future episodes, then the show has officially lost its mind (currently, it's clinging to the precarious status of "unofficially lost its mind").
Brody's trip to H-town was intercut with shots of Carrie huddled in the corner of her room, staring at nothing, possibly thinking about her offer from the mystery lawyer. The pair of images represented rock bottom for a couple who had to live with the consequences of their actions over the last two seasons. No more out-of-the-way hotel rooms or back seats of cars for these two while the security of America waits for Brody to ejaculate. Nope, now Brody is a junkie in a foreign land and Carrie is a certified lunatic in a psych ward. The episode's final moments also represented how the two of them once had so much control over their own lives, but now have zero options. Their freedoms and the right to choose have been taken from them, and now they're at the mercy of outside forces and on the doorstep of bad decisions. Serves them right, I guess?
I will say I really did enjoy "Tower of David" for the first 30 minutes or so, especially the mystery surrounding Brody's bullethole, and watching him recover from his injuries, develop a relationship with the young woman, and explore the Tower. There was a real sense of a fresh start for Brody and a chance to make the best out of an otherwise crummy situation. And "Tower of David" was always close to being a great individual episode, but it never molded itself into anything rewarding.
Homeland has yet to take any shape so far this season, preferring to remain an amorphous blob of bad times with the hunt for terrorists way down on its priority list, well behind Dana's sexting. After two rocky episodes to start off Season 3, Homeland needed to right the ship; instead it collided with an iceberg. "Tower of David" was the Season 3 version of Season 2's "State of Independence," the horrible episode where Brody experienced a series of unfortunate events and ended up murdering a man in the woods and taking a shower at a car wash, while Carrie sank so low that she tried to commit suicide with white wine and prescription pills. "Tower of David" may not have been as ridiculous as "State of Independence," but the results are almost the same, only this time Brody is injecting dirty drugs into his veins. I repeat, Brody is shooting heroin. What is this show doing?
– Homeland is now approaching a spot on my drop list (though I'll cover it all season because J-O-B), and the show must work its way back into my good graces. This show is getting Dexter'd.
– Why would the Venezuelans go out of their way to get Brody's passport if they didn't want him to go anywhere? Just to appease him? I understand they needed to find the guy who stole his stuff to ensure he couldn't blab about Brody's whereabouts, but handing over a fake passport to a guy you don't want to leave is just asking him to leave, isn't it? I guess they were trying the nice approach until Brody forced them to choose the not-so-nice approach by attempting an escape.
– Maybe Carrie should should become a professional popsicle-stick dollhouse maker and drop this whole CIA thing. She could work with The Wire's Lester Freeman to make some killer mini-houses!
– Nurse Abby, why on Earth are you helping Carrie at the risk of your job?
– Did we see Damian Lewis's junk? I think we saw Damian Lewis's junk.
– What if we just spent the rest of the season following Peter Quinn? I'd watch that.
– Brody did refuse the heroin earlier in the episode, saying he didn't care about the pain and that "he'd survive." Is Brody taking the heroin supposed to mean that he doesn't think he'll survive now? That he's given up? I guess that makes taking heroin a little more tolerable, but really? Heroin? Brody is taking heroin? This is what Homeland came up with? Heroin? Hello? Heroin? Really?