Homeland Season 3 Review “Tower of David”

Ever since it was confirmed that Damian Lewis would return for a third season of Homeland, skepticism has run rampant. A man marked for death twice by the writing staff only to be granted a reprieve by network executives can create a certain level of skepticism. Despite the fact Lewis is an Emmy winner and one of the best actors going today, viewers and critics were both ready for the show to move on from the story of Nicholas Brody. Once he was spared at the end of season two, the eye rolling began. Bringing back Brody in a way that seems semi-probable and interesting would appear to be a Herculean, if not impossible, task. However, for one episode at least, the people at Homeland managed to pull it off. Nicholas Brody returned, and I was riveted the entire time.

With Brody’s return into his Venezuelan hell-hole, the show did a lot of things to mirror his time in captivity in Iraq both during his torture and his time with Abu Nazir. It definitely felt like ground covered before, but with such a problematic character, the use of familiar, but fertile ground was a smart decision. Plus, Brody’s return also gave us a glimpse at what Homeland is capable of when it is great. The show thrived on intensity, but it was the delicate handling of characters that set it apart from the 24s of the world. Lewis thrives in these types of situations, and it gave us a look at what allowed him to pocket that Emmy. Without the bug-eyed stress of last season’s Blackberry Skype calls, Lewis is allowed to slow play his emotions and his feelings. He concealed his true reason for escaping so well, that I didn’t connect the dots until he started to get twitchy with his Venezuelan captors. Ultimately, his situation doesn’t matter. He just can’t feel trapped. He felt trapped in the hole, trapped by Nazir, and trapped by his double life. Now free from all of those things, he had a chance to finally be free, even if he was on the run from the entire world. With his freedom taken away once again, his resignation at the end of the episode was both sad and maddening at the same time. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to feel for Nick Brody at this point, but this episode definitely made me feel something. Given where we left him last December, those feelings were unexpected.

One of the other important aspects of this episode is it finally expanded the world of Homeland. Since the bombing at the CIA wiped the slate clean last season, the world felt considerably stuffy in the first few episodes of this season. Intimacy has been a large part of the show’s success, but the show hadn’t given us anyone new outside of Fara. This week, we escaped the CIA and got to know some new and interesting characters. The Tower of David seems like a weird place filled with strange people, strange dealings, and a strange set of rules. We barely even know the names of these characters introduced to us during this episode, but I want to know more about them. The doctor warns us that these are dangerous questions to ask, but I’m excited to see the show ask them. I don’t think the show plans to spend the entire season with Brody in Venezuelan captivity, but if El Nino’s final promise to Brody comes true, then this will be an interesting place to spend our final few hours with Brody.

In addition to Brody’s story, I was interested to see the show draw a parallel line with Carrie in the psych ward. To me, it gave me a glimpse of what the show could have been. These two characters, with so much in common, running parallel to each other. Instead, the show intersected the two of them, and we know what happened next. Personally, I like the idea of Carrie’s mania, not her relationship with Brody, costing her everything she finds important. I’m far less interested in who the lawyer represents or what those people truly want, but for one week, it allowed me the opportunity to see an intelligent Carrie. There were plenty of manic moments (here’s hoping Danes had some headgear on for the bathroom scene), but Carrie was sharp and quick for the first time in a long time. With viewers wondering what Homeland plans to do next, it was encouraging to watch Homeland return to what works.