TV Recap: Homeland, “Tower of David” (3.3)


10/13/13, 9PM , SHO

Homeland has an interesting, albeit ultimately unhealthy, relationship with adrenaline. The show constantly pulls the trigger on story points far earlier than any other television program would dare, often for seemingly no other reason than because it can. This makes for incredibly invigorating television in the moment (think of the end of last season’s “Beirut is Back,” when Saul discovered proof of Brody’s terrorist activities, or the final act of the wall-to-wall stellar “Q&A” which changed the status quo of the show permanently), but it also tends to spell trouble for the show down the road. Homeland lives in the moment. Unfortunately, tomorrow does come eventually, and by that point, the show usually has something of a mess on its hands.

In response to the way season two careened off the rails and into a free fall, season three seems to be consciously trying to restrain itself from going to bonkers. At least, until “Tower of David,” which brings back Brody way earlier than is probably advisable and then, just…sort of…leaves him there, on the table, waiting for the season’s plotline to catch up and make him important again. The return of Brody is the question mark that has been hanging over this season since the closing moments of season two, and if I’m honest, I had hoped we wouldn’t see him for a whole lot longer. It seemed wise for the show to keep Brody off the table for a while in order to figure out what this show might look like in his absence, and to play with the hole he would leave in the lives of many of its characters. But here he is, earlier than expected in a way that was ultimately kind of expectable considering the show’s patterns.

“Tower of David” deals with Brody’s return in perhaps the best possible way, even as it leaves me concerned about how the show will use him going forward. It seems to address head-on the question in many fans’ minds: Why is Nick Brody still alive after all the pain and heartache he has caused? The episode doesn’t immediately answer that question, and in fact it seems to imply there may not be an answer at all. Instead, what it provides us is essentially a two-hander about our leads, who are worlds apart but still connected in ways they barely understand.homeland-s3-ep3

Brody thought he had finally broken free when he crossed the border last season, but we quickly learn that he has just traded in one prison cell for another. Season two returned again and again to the idea of Brody as a pawn in larger games he couldn’t escape, and “Tower of David” mocks his efforts to assert himself left and right. Every time Brody tries to break free, people are hurt and killed. Every time he disobeys, pain results. How long can Brody rebel, and through how many deaths can that quest for autonomy retain any sense of nobility? Its possible, even probable that time has long since past, and that is an incredibly intriguing idea to play with, even as the show’s attempt to hang a lantern on Brody’s continued presence are only somewhat effective.

The way the episode cuts back and forth between Brody and Carrie is admirable, but its more interesting than effective. The episode is incredibly effective insofar as it is a story about how Brody and Carrie find themselves in cages from which they cannot ever hope to escape. Yet much of this power is undercut by the fact that both will get out of these situations and soon, otherwise there isn’t much of a show left here. If this was a tragic coda to the show, it would be wrenching, a wonderful cap to the show’s central idea that the National Security State chews up individuals and spits them out. As it is, it is a fascinating tangent between Brody and Carrie teaming up to fight bad guys, a tantalizing what if that threatens to be more alluring than whatever the show can come up with once it has shaken off the effects of this episode and barreled forward into whatever half-cocked scheme it will come up with next.

“Tower of David” is a compelling character piece that is undercut by its position in the season and the larger narrative of the show. Carrie and Brody are hitting rock bottom, but their redemption is at most a few hours away (and my bet is we see at least one of their lots improved remarkably next week). Homeland is recovering from its spastic second season by taking several deep breaths. I just hope that when it finally exhales, it has something to show for all the time its spent stalling, or at least that when the dust clears and Carrie and Brody escape the holes in which they find themselves, the consequences linger on. Otherwise, this episode will remain interesting only in a speculative sense.

The Roundup

  • One way in which I do not hope this episode lingers on is by giving Brody a heroin addiction storyline. Damian Lewis is great, but the thought of this just harkens back to the terrible 24 arc in which Jack Bauer struggles with addiction. I want no more of that, please.
69/100 ~ OKAY. “Tower of David” is a compelling character piece that is undercut by its position in the season and the larger narrative of the show.

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Jordan Ferguson

Sr. Staff Film Critic
Jordan Ferguson is a lifelong pop culture fan, and would probably never leave his couch if he could get away with it. When he isn’t wasting time “studying the law” at the University of Michigan, he writes about film, television, and music. In addition to writing for Next Projection, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Review To Be Named, a homemade haven for pop-culture obsessives. Check out more of his work at , follow him on twitter @bobchanning, or just yell really loudly on the street. Don’t worry, he’ll hear.