Homeland recap: The Return of Brody
You asked for less Dana, you got it, Homeland watchers.
In fact, you got zero Dana in “Tower of David,” along with zero Leo, zero Jessica, zero Chris (wait, was he even in the last episode?), zero Dar Adal, zero Quinn, and zero Saul. Poof, all gone.
Instead, you got a little bit of Carrie and whole lot of Brody, in a frustrating return for the soldier-turned-terrorist-turned-fugitive. (Welcome back, Damian Lewis!) And that whole lot of Brody was, well, interesting, for lack of a better word. So let’s discuss.
First off, it’s important to note that this hour was co-written by Henry Bromell and William Bromell. For avid Homeland watchers, that former name should ring a bell — the late Bromell posthumously won the Emmy last month for writing the second season’s stellar “Q&A.” And in this episode, his creative touches can be felt, with the intense dialogue for the show’s two central characters and the crafty mirroring of their situations.
But was that mirroring effective? To me, it did alright — until it started to feel like the show was bashing me over the head with it. See, Brody is saved while on the brink of death, while Carrie is pulled back just as she’s about to blow open the CIA’s secrets to a reporter. Brody finds himself trapped in the “Tower of David” in Caracas, Venezuela, while Carrie can’t leave the mental hospital. Brody almost makes his way out via a mosque, but gets violently dragged back to his “new home,” while Carrie holds out hope that Saul’s been visiting, but her plan shatters when it turns out a mysterious man is behind the visits. Mirroring upon mirroring.
Sure, it’s two simple arcs for both characters, but I argue it’s a lot for the viewer to take in, especially when one of the characters is making his long-awaited and highly anticipated return. Brody is undeniably important to Homeland, but I question whether we’re seeing too much of him already — and whether the show’s trying too hard to draw parallels between him and Carrie.
Let’s dive in.
We begin the episode in Caita La Mar, Venezuela (thanks, lower third!), where a critically injured (and bald) Brody is taken away by a group of men led by El Nino (Manny Perez) to an ominous-looking tower — the “Tower of David,” we later learn — in Caracas. There, bullet wounds in his abdomen are treated by an intriguing man played by Erik Dellums, who, as fans of The Wire might remember, can play the hell out of a small part with his unique soothing-but-a-tad-creepy vocal affectations. Here, he’s a doctor as well, though without a name (if anyone does pick up a name, let me know — I rewatched, but may have missed it again the second time around, and for now, I’m calling him “Dellums”).
“Are you a doctor?” Brody asks him. “Interesting question,” Dellums responds before checking his wounds and patching Brody back up under some annoyingly flickering lights.
By the time Brody wakes, he can barely move. El Nino’s daughter Esme (Martina Garcia) forces him to lie down and urges him to accept a dose of the drugs on the counter, but Brody, echoing Carrie, tells her “No more, I can’t think.” He painfully eases himself off the bed and looks out over the city, just as El Nino returns and explains what’s going on. “There’s a bounty on your head,” he tells Brody. “You’re never safe, not even with me.”
Brody, dubious, looks back and asks him why he would bother to help an American fugitive. “You know Carrie Mathison,” El Nino responds. “So do I.” All of this makes me instantly curious about why Carrie has contacts in Venezuela, which we’ll probably never find out. (And on that note, we’ve been spending quite some time in Venezuela recently — first Quinn, now Brody. Maybe I’m the one looking too closely for parallels.)
The segment ends with Brody realizing just where he is as we zoom out with smash cuts. He’s alone in a room, in a tower, in an unfamiliar city buzzing with potential enemies.
NEXT: ‘We’re here because this is the place that accepts us.’
Slowly, scene by scene, Brody regains his strength. He takes many missteps on the way, however, trekking through the tower and causing himself to bleed again.
“What were you thinking?” Dellums asks him. Noticing Brody’s frustration (and incessant heavy breathing), he asks Brody what he thinks of the tower, “this abscess of living we call home” that’s named after the banker who commissioned it.
Brody skeptically peers at him. “Why are you here?” he asks. “That’s a dangerous question. Why am I here leads to why are you here, you see?” Dellums replies, before launching into his explanation about Brody’s apparent safe haven. “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.”
So… the Tower of David is Homeland‘s twist on the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters? Anyone who needs to disappear off the map and has a connection with the inside can find refuge in the abandoned Tower of David, where no one can touch them. If they leave, they will face certain danger. Am I understanding this correctly?
Either way, Brody is at the same time healing and losing himself, anxious to take the next step but without any idea where. Brody becomes much stronger and after witnessing El Nino kill a man who stole Brody’s wallet and passport to protect Brody’s identity, he realizes the trouble he’s in. Though El Nino fully understands what has to be done to protect Brody, Brody himself doesn’t want blood on his hands.
So he insists on leaving, finally seeing the Tower of David as a prison instead of protection. Hurriedly walking out of the compound, he runs into El Nino and his army, telling them he’s heading “out.”
“Out where?” El Nino asks. “To the next place,” Brody answers. But, as Brody slowly realizes, there is no “next place,” a new destination after escaping the U.S. into Montreal and somehow into Colombia and finally into Venezuela. There’s nowhere for him to go and, as El Nino says, Carrie “doesn’t want to know” where Brody is because Caracas is the “end of the line.”
After the confrontation, Brody returns to his room like an obedient child. Dellums visits him to administer a dose of the drug, telling him, “Those voices in your head are not your friends right now. You have to make them go away.” But Brody grabs him and forces him to leave, instead hatching a new plan: Head to the mosque and appeal for help, because Brody’s a Muslim and the imam will understand his plight.
Frankly, it’s a naive, poorly formed plan, but with Esme’s help, Brody escapes the tower and reach the imam. He tears through the streets with his hands in his pockets and his hoodie drawn up to cover his head, somehow hiding his identity like the way Clark Kent’s glasses hide Superman (is that enough superhero analogies for this recap? Fine, I’ll stop).
There, he tells Esme he can’t take her along, crushing the girl’s hopes and making me groan at the sight of the unrequited love subplot the show seems to be taking with her. Brody talks to the imam and is led inside the mosque, where he believes he’ll finally be safe.
NEXT: Meanwhile, in D.C….
Carrie is struggling to escape her own prison: the mental facility she’s been in for three weeks. “I feel quite lucid,” she tells her doctor. “I was wondering if you could tell Saul Berenson how much better I’m doing.”
Despite her efforts, the doctors and nurses refuse her requests. She becomes more frustrated by the minute, even though she explains that going off her meds was “clearly a bad idea” and that Saul did her a favor by admitting her into the hospital. Carrie appears so weakened, she apologizes immediately for questioning what the doctor is writing down about her state. “No one knows where else to put me,” she says, sharing the same lost expression Brody conveyed when El Nino told him Caracas was the end of the line.
She’s become so fragile she retreats to a bathroom and bangs her head on a mirror, only to be stopped by Abby (played by Marcia DeBonis, a.k.a. Jennifer Garner’s hapless secretary Arlene in 13 Going on 30). “I had a bad moment, that’s all,” Carrie says, before sobbing. “I’m doing everything that’s asked of me.”
But Abby drops a note that piques Carrie’s interest, revealing that a man’s been around to ask about how Carrie’s doing. This riles Carrie up — she believes it’s Saul — so she insists on visiting rights. But when the visitor shows up again, Carrie finds that it’s not Saul; instead, it’s a man named Paul Franklin (Jason Butler Harner), an associate at a law firm who’s interested in talking to Carrie. When she starts to doubt his sincerity, he explains, “Carrie, I’m on your side.”
Which, of course, is the last thing Carrie wants to hear. The line makes her smile, remembering how often Saul used to tell her he’s on her side. She rejects Franklin’s offer and brusquely tells him, “You think I’m vulnerable, you think I’m weak,” before turning her heel and striding back into the facility.
Once she’s inside, though, she slows down and looks around the rec room, taking in the place she’s spent countless hours wasting her time doing arts and crafts with detailed balconies on houses made of sticks and glue. And she begins to lose it, admitting, “I need my meds.”
NEXT: “You’re not a Muslim. You’re a terrorist.”
Like Carrie, Brody comes thisclose to getting away, but his bombshell doesn’t come in the form of a law firm associate — it comes in the form of El Nino and his guys, guns drawn and firing on the imam and the police dragging Brody out of the shower and into custody.
Let’s back up a little first: Brody, believing he found refuge at the mosque, takes a refreshing shower there in an extended shot that makes the scene seem like a dream sequence. Just as he’s leaning against the wall and relaxing for what must be the first time since the Langley bombing, two police officers draw back the shower curtain and pull the nude Brody out, beating him senseless and dragging him to the imam. “You’re not a Muslim,” the imam tells a shell-shocked Brody. “You’re a terrorist.”
That’s when El Nino comes to the rescue in a bloody shoot-out that leaves all threats to Brody dead and Brody himself lying naked on the floor (and unfortunately for me, calling this song into mind).
Clothed and returned to square one at the tower, Brody sits collapsed against the wall in a bare room. “I told you, ‘Don’t leave,’ but you go,” El Nino says, admonishing Brody. “This is what happens. We all get trouble.” Brody says he understands, and agrees to also stay away from Esme, as Dellums returns in the doorway to see him.
“You’re a naughty boy,” Dellums says in the shadows, his voice washing over the scene. “Naughty, naughty boy… Everywhere you go, other people die, but you always manage to survive, have you noticed that? You’re like a cockroach, still alive after the last nuclear bomb goes off.”
Indeed, Brody the human cockroach has survived impossible odds, even aside from the failed bomb he was supposed to detonate at the end of the first season. He’s killed a man while on the phone with Jessica, shot Tom Walker to protect himself, and escaped the hold of Abu Nazir. But a cockroach can simply continue to survive, while Brody needs a plan, somewhere to go, something to do. And right now, he’s stagnant, forced to stay exactly where he is, drugging himself so he can run away from his thoughts. The same goes for Carrie, alone in the corner of her room, hugging her knees to her chest. Just two lost cockroaches, stuck where they are on a show that won’t let them get what they want.
The episode leaves us to ponder what both characters could possibly do next, now that they’ve seemingly tried everything they can to escape. By only using them in “Tower of David,” the show has amplified their helplessness and loneliness, and despite my misgivings about how the episode played the pair’s similar situations, I’m glad to see Brody again, and I’m eager to find out what they’re planning with his character. Plus, the location’s gorgeous and a much-needed respite from all the D.C.-centric plots. Bringing in a ton of new players to work with his storyline is a wise choice, because it allows for new Brody stories — we’ll just have to see if they’re worth following. Given the use of Esme so far, one path could lead to an unfortunate romantic spin, but Brody could as easily head in a different direction. I’m hoping the writers do the latter.
And Carrie? I’m predicting she’ll eventually take Franklin up on that offer. Homeland doesn’t add new characters for nothing — at least, it’d be a shame if we never find out the identity of her mysterious “supporter.” Whoever it is, we’ve got new players on the board, in addition to last week’s Fara and the frequently mentioned Javadi. (Hey, maybe the interested party is connected to Javadi? My theories are starting to look as ridiculous as Carrie’s scribbles in her notebook.)
So what did you all think? Was this episode nuts? Were you bored or thrilled? Happy to see Brody back, or frustrated that the show can’t get rid of the Brodys entirely? Wishing the story moved forward some more? (I’m with you there.) Itching to see Dana again? Just kidding, I know how most of you feel about that one. Whatever your thoughts, sound off in the comments below.