[Note: This post contains spoilers about the third episode of 'Homeland' season three, and predictions about the rest of the 'Homeland' season.]
The third episode of the third season of ‘Homeland’ was a deep character study in our two leads, with Brody, having been missing for the first two episodes of the season, serving as the catalyst for most of the action this week. We also caught up with Carrie Mathison’s recovery, although she didn’t even make an appearance until the bottom of the hour. (Notably, for those who have tired of her storyline, this was a Dana Brody-free episode.)
‘Homeland’ viewers spanned the political spectrum last night, with everyone from Rosie O’Donnell to Emily Miller tweeting about it. But Rosie specifically brought up an interesting point – it was great to see Brody, but the events were confusing. How did we get here? Why was he shot, then nursed back to life and protected, and ultimately a pseudo-prisoner in Venezuela?
But the greatest question may be ‘when.’ And before we get to the full recap, in the spirit of one of the most intriguing television columns of all time (Emily Nussbaum’s Brody ‘New Yorker’ column last season), I have a theory about what happened, and what it means for the future of ‘Homeland’:
Last night, we saw the end – the death – of Sgt. Nicholas Brody.
Maybe the final heroin shot in the arm wasn’t his actual death, but Brody never leaves that broken-down half-finished skyscraper in Caracas. This is truly his final resting place, and the rest of the season we find out how he, and we, got here.
This week we meet a shady Venezuelan criminal leader who goes by the name El Nino (played by the excellent character actor Manny Perez), and midway through the episode, El Nino responds to Brody who is itching to get out and move on. “There’s no next place,” El Nino says. “This is it for you. End of the line.”
“End of the line” – what if he’s not lying?
Let’s start from the beginning of the episode though. We last saw Brody (is he Rep. Brody or Sgt. Brody? We’ll just go with Brody) as he was being brought to the Canadian border by Carrie Mathison at the end of seasons two. But when this episode kicked off, he was in South America, bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds and hyperventilating. He’s placed in a pick-up truck and driven to an abandoned garage, serving as a make-shift doctor’s office. The doctor is played by the excellent Eric Dellums (many will remember him as the Medical Examiner from ‘The Wire’) – he performs the surgery, and gives him some heroin to ease the pain.
Thus begins Brody’s recovery: a slow process taking place in downtown Caracas, in a nondescript, deteriorating skyscraper known as the Tower of David (also the name of the episode). It feels reminiscent of the famous Issa episode, ‘Crossfire‘ – where a lengthy period of time is traced over the course of a single episode. The Tower of David is real, by the way, and the backstory is unbelievable. This building is “your new home,” says El Nino. We learn there’s a $10 million bounty on Brody, dead or alive. The people who “nearly killed” him were Colombians. But perhaps the most startling revelation was this from El Nino: “You know Carrie Mathison, so do I.”
Speaking of Mathison, the only other storyline this episode was her recovery. She’s feeling better, and tells the doctor, “After three weeks in here it’s hard to hold onto any grudges.” Later, she acknowledges Saul did her a favor in having her committed. But it doesn’t last. Soon she’s banging her head against a mirror so much it bleeds, and when a friendly nurse catches her mid-mini-meltdown, the nurse agrees to keep it a secret and help her. She thinks Saul is visiting her but instead it’s a new character, Paul Franklin. The lawyer says his partner would like to talk to her, help her – she’s not buying it. We leave Carrie as she’s curled up in the corner of her bedroom, a prisoner in much the same way Brody is.
The Mathison storyline informs the Brody one, as it helps put together a timeline. The season started several weeks after the deadly explosion at the CIA. Some more time passed, and then we learn there are three weeks of ‘Homeland’ time between episodes two and three. Even at two or three months, it doesn’t seem like nearly enough time for the Brody storyline to be happening simultaneously. In all likelihood, the Brody events of the episode are taking place many months, if not years in the ‘Homeland’ future.
So we get questions like how he somehow got from Canada to the Colombia border (where he gets shot), to Venezuela, where he ends up. We wonder how El Nino knows Carrie, why he nursed Brody back to life instead of collecting $10 million, while at the same time ultimately keeping him as a prisoner. In theory we will get these answers in the coming weeks. But what if this episode was the end for Brody, and the rest of his involvement in the show traces how he got to shooting heroin in Caracas?
Toward the end of the episode, Brody attempts an escape – he goes to a mosque, while his friend, the young Esme, helps him. He thought the mosque would be “refuge” but instead the Imam calls the police, the police arrest him, and then El Nino’s crew kills everyone and brings him right back, this time into a sort of solitary confinement. The doctor is back, calling him a “cockroach” – everywhere he goes people die, but somehow he keeps on living. “You belong here, am I right?” he asks, echoing something he said earlier: “We’re here because we belong here.”
What if he’s right? Brody takes the heroin placed next to him and drifts off – it’s the “end of the line” and this is where he belongs, forever.
It’s notable that Venezuela is the location for the episode, since we’ve been here earlier this year – Quinn was in Caracas for his hit on the man connected to the Iranian terrorist in episode one. Could we see him, and possibly Carrie, down in Caracas later this season, setting the groundwork with El Nino for the events of episode three?
Damian Lewis did several interviews after the episode, and none overtly shot down the theory that the only involvement he has the rest of the season will be what happens before the action of this week. He tells Alan Sepinwall, “I think he will need rescuing again. It’s a question of when that happens.” Maybe it never does.
One behind the scenes reason for the theory is that this was co-written by the excellent Henry Bromell, who sadly passed away earlier this year. We know the writers don’t always have a set plan for how everything plays out, but it would make sense that, if they saw an end to the Brody storyline happening at some point, they had that singular aspect planned out. Bromell got to write the end for Brody, and now we’ll see how he gets there.
The rest of the season, as Brody goes from point A to point Venezuela, we may see him interact with Carrie, his family and others. But the “end of the line” is the end of the storyline for Nicholas Brody: the seemingly-immortal cockroach is finally vanquished.