I will admit, these four episodes were not my favorite. Although I was warned this season is not as exciting and fast paced as the previous two, I was determined to review them honestly and without any preconceived notions. While I accomplished that objective, I did take issue with some of the story lines in first four episodes of the third season of Homeland.
After an electrifying ending to Season Two, I felt the start of Season Three did not match the excitement and intensity of the previous season. The third episode “Tower of David”, was particularly disturbing to me. It contained graphic drug use, betrayal, and confinement of the protagonists Carrie and Brody. This episode focused exclusively on how both characters are rotting away in their respective prisons. While the situations of their imprisonment are cringe worthy and uncomfortable to watch (at least for me it was), betrayal was the catalyst to propel them into the dire straights they are in.
Saul and Carrie
The Carrie-Saul relationship is probably one of the most important, if not the most important relationship on Homeland. Saul has often times been her rock despite Carrie’s ill-conceived notions of loyalty at times to their friendship and to the CIA. However in the first four episodes of Season Three, we saw how Saul’s betrayal landed Carrie in the psych ward. Saul, now newly appointed chief of the CIA, is in desperate need to protect the CIA from damaging revelations during a particularly challenging time. Although Dar Adal may have discredited Carrie, Saul did not defend her. In fact in an Intelligence Committee hearing, after an article in the newspaper prominently displayed a story about an unnamed CIA’s romantic involvement with Brody, Saul (while not giving a name) tells them the agent is bipolar and never disclosed her mental illness with her employer. We saw Carrie’s distraught reaction as she views this on TV.
Soon after Carrie is forcibly taken to a psych ward by policemen while conducting an interview where she was stating Brody’s innocence. It is clear she is in her own purgatory – feeling so much like a prisoner and treated as such. We also witness Saul visiting Carrie, and it is clear she blames Saul for the predicament she is in. While it is natural for relationships to go through ups and downs, this seems to be an extreme disconnect. It also seemed disjointed from the ending of Season Two, where the last scene is when Saul was reciting the Kaddish over rows and rows of dead bodies and in the distance we hear Carrie calling out Saul’s name. Saul is shocked and elated that Carrie is alive. However an article by Maureen Ryan of the Huffington Post, includes an interview with executive producer Alex Gansa. It turns out, this story line was a deliberate way to fray the Carrie-Saul relationship. Like most long form shows, the writers and producers need to keep the momentum of the show going, and since the Carrie-Saul relationship is so vital to the show, having Saul really turn on her and damage her credibility would likely keep Homeland’s audience on the edge of their seats.
Even after Carrie is released from the psych ward, the CIA has repossessed her car, frozen her bank accounts, and made travel outside of the country impossible. So even though she is no longer a prisoner in the psych ward, she is trapped in a different kind of prison that is exclusive for her, perpetuated by a man she thought she can trust.
While Carrie was going through her version of hell in a psych ward, in a similar vein Nick Brody was living in a prison. It is during the “Tower of David” episode that we learn how Brody ended up in his ad-hoc prison. Rescued after suffering from two bullet holes to his abdomen, he is taken to an unfinished skyscraper in Caracas. He is nursed back to health by the resident doctor and the daughter of the leader of squatters who reside there. Brody is injected with heroin to offset the pain he is experiencing. He eventually refuses the drug so he can think clearer. When he gains his strength back, he desperately wants to leave to get to the next place. However El Niño (leader of the band of squatters – as a meteorologist, I just love this name!) refuses to let him leave and threatens to turn him into the CIA to claim the $10 million reward. While he successfully seeks shelter at a nearby mosque, El Niño’s mercenaries kill the Imam and his wife and bring Brody back to the “Tower of David” where he is put in a prison cell.
Although Nick Brody is a despicable character in his own right, much like Carrie, he was placed in this predicament due to betrayal from someone he trusted, Abu Nazir. (It may be a stretch to say he trusted Abu Nazir, but nonetheless he felt loyalty toward him). When Brody turned against Nazir to work for the CIA to help capture him and his terrorist cell, it was Nazir and his operatives who orchestrated the bombing on the CIA and framed Brody for this terrorist act by planting the explosives in his vehicle. After the bombing, Nazir’s clan leaked Brody’s confessional tape to the press in order to portray him as the prime suspect in perpetuating that terror attack. Although Nazir is dead, this final act of his is keeping Brody in a perpetual prison – always having to be on the run and not able to be with Carrie.
Betrayal is not a foreign concept to Brody though. It was at the end of Season One when we learned that Brody is working for Abu Nazir to assist in planning an attack on American soil to avenge the death of Nazir’s son Issa. He was willing to sacrifice himself while betraying his family, friends, the Marine Corp, and his country. While the suicide mission was a failure, the chain of events that occurred after it cumulated into the largest, most hurtful, and humiliating betrayal to his family. After Brody’s suicide tape surfaced in the media, his estranged wife and kids have to deal with the fallout of his actions. It was during these first four episodes of the third season when we learned how Brody’s betrayal to his country placed the Brody family in the tough financial situation they are in. Brody betrayed his family’s trust and the nation’s trust in him.
It was revealed at the end of episode four of Season Three that Carrie being sent to the psych ward was a plan devised by Carrie and Saul to draw out an elusive terror suspect who funded the attack on the CIA. So while this may mean Saul did not really betray Carrie by having her involuntarily committed to the psych ward, betrayal by the organization she devoted her life to served to be a catalyst to a purgatory built for her.