Brody is finally back on "Homeland" -- and as star Damian Lewis promised, it was a devastating reveal -- but will he ever really be back?
We caught up with Lewis to discuss "Homeland" Season 3, Episode 3, "Tower of David," this week's "very sad episode," and whether or not Brody can cheat certain death once again to make it back to his old life -- and back to sharing screentime with his partner in drugged-and-imprisoned crime Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) and his family, including troubled daughter Dana (Morgan Saylor).
Keep reading for Lewis' take on this latest twist, including his pessimistic outlook on Brody's current state ("I don't see Brody coming out of hell") and his optimistic prediction about an inevitable reunion for Brody with both Carrie and Dana before this season is over.
Welcome back! We went from zero Brody to almost all Brody this episode -- you promised that Brody's reveal would be "devastating," but was this one of the more grueling hours to shoot for you?
[Laughs.] Everyone keeps saying that. It was hot and dusty and perilous sometimes -- it felt that way because we were quite high up in the abandoned building -- but I have to say, you go into acting hoping that you get the opportunities to make episodes like that. It felt like a small movie, and a self-contained story. It really was great fun.
A small, very bloody, very violent, very drug-fueled movie ... there's a lot.
Yeah, there's a lot, but you know ... we know the "Homeland" viewers can take it. We're not expecting the nuns at the convent to tune in to watch it. We know who's going to come and watch the show, and hopefully it'll be people who can stomach that kind of thing.
It's a devastating personal trajectory for Brody. He has been blown from pillar to post. He's like a tumbleweed. He's a servant of so many masters, and has been ever since he was captured and tortured seven or eight years ago by Abu Nazir. So, you know, the culmination of his whole story is really in that moment when he picks up that needle and he sticks it in his arm. I think it's just a cry for stillness and peace, and just a desire to stop running. He's a guy who's running on empty now, and it's a real sadness.
You know, the broader political message is: Don't send young men to war. Obviously "Homeland" is a fictional world, and we extrapolate from that and he's gone on a pretty remarkable journey since then [laughs] ... but he is a man who has had his identity taken away from him, and he really doesn't know who he is anymore. He hasn't known who he is for a long, long time. And he wakes up in this derelict tower, and now he doesn't know where he is, and I just think he wants a moment of peace. I think it's a very sad episode.
Very sad. That last shot was pretty suicidal feeling -- there were probably five times this episode where I thought Brody might just be a goner. Did you feel that same impending doom this episode?
Yeah, I did. But ... [laughs] I've felt like that since the first episode of the first season! I think "Homeland" takes quite a bleak world view, and I think Brody is really just descending the nine circles of hell, into Dante's Inferno. And I don't see Brody coming out of hell. I think he lives a living hell, and I think he has for some time, really from the moment we first met him. Just when we first met him, he seemed to represent the threat as well, so he seemed to be more active or proactive -- he seemed to be a little bit more master of his own destiny. But I think the reality for Brody is he has never been master of his own destiny. He's always been in the pay of other people, whether it's Abu Nazir or the CIA, and now he's on the run and he's become a non-entity, an anonymous person. He can never really lead a full, engaged life again.
I think there's an impulse in him to get back to America and prove his innocence, to stand up in front of everyone and say "this was not me," and to be able to say to his family, "You can hold your heads high and not walk in shame. Your father is not a terrorist." But, of course, he's still the guy who strapped the suicide vest on and almost took out the Vice President. They will never let him be a full person again -- they would never risk it -- so Brody is a cautionary tale all of his own about young men in war. I don't wish that to sound too didactic ... I think that's sort of the meta message, if you like. I think he's just a man at the end of his tether.
It wasn't until 30 minutes into this episode that we even saw someone else, and it was Carrie, also drugged and in an equally imprisoned state. There are definitely parallels there, showing us that neither one of these people can ever truly go back to the way things were.
That's right. That's absolutely right. I think those parallels are great -- it's a great way of bringing Carrie and Brody together for the viewer without actually putting them in the same space. The viewer is constantly reminded that these two people ... there's a reason for their connection; there's a reason that they do love one another. It's reckless, it's heady. I think they both quite enjoy that -- that's part of who they are. I think they're two people who feel that they have less to lose than most people because of the damage and the pain that they live with on a day-to-day basis. It was a great idea to do that, to cut back to Carrie and find her in a similar state, because we're just reminded of the similarities between the two of them.
The problem is, it now seems like an almost insurmountable hurdle for Brody to escape, let alone to get back to Carrie. So what's next? If you were a betting man, what kind of odds would you place on Brody and Carrie ever even being in the same room again?
Well ... this is "Homeland." [Laughs.] They're pretty good at moving plot along to make that happen. I think Carrie might not even know where he is, so I think they have to work out where he is, and I think Brody has to want to leave -- that's probably as fundamental as anything. Certainly if he just sits there sticking needles in his arm, he ain't gonna go anywhere. There's a lot to get through, but you'll see when we get to it.
So we will get to it. Good to know. There was genuinely a part of me that thought, OK, they've been teasing this forever, the demise of Brody, but then there's always a 180 ... maybe this is the time that they shock us all and kill him off this week. It feels like end times for him!
Yeah ... if you were to use classical scenes from mythology, someone has to almost die in order to be reborn. So I think there's a chance that Brody will be reborn -- I think there's still possibilities for a rebirth in him, a reincarnation, if you like. It's true -- you're right to point out that this episode pretty much killed him. It flattened him. So will he rise from that? I don't know, but I think there's enough time to do it -- we still have just over half a season to go, so there's definitely time.
You're also doing an audible companion, posting after this episode -- what more did you think viewers needed to know or hear about what Brody's going through?
It's a cool little piece actually -- a beautifully written short story which pretty much fills in the gaps between the Canadian border and where he is now. It's fun. I read it myself, and it's about 15 minutes long, and it's really engaging to listen to.
The last time we spoke, we talked about last week's episode and Dana's big scene, and our readers were with you on your reaction to that. What do you make of the anti-Dana reactions? Do you think the Brodys are harder to sympathize with without Brody there?
I don't know ... I don't know why it is, to be honest. I just think there are really compelling stories that people tuned in for, and maybe people are prioritizing those a little bit more rigidly in their minds. They want to be with those stories, and they just want to be with those other stories less. But I don't think ... I mean, Morgan [Saylor] has been as brilliant as she's always been, and Dana, I think, is as compelling a character as she's always been. If we just returned to the beginning of the series, this was a show that wanted to explore what it was like for military families when a war hero returns home, and how difficult it is behind closed doors for the family to reintegrate and get along and find a family rhythm again, and sometimes that's not always possible and there are dark and difficult moments. Dana continues to represent the effect of that -- she is also a victim of sending young men to war. She lost her father, effectively, and she went off the rails.
I think it's interesting to see what happens to her when she goes off the rails, personally. Especially since you've got to figure that Brody and Dana are going to come together again at some point, because that relationship was so strong and so central to Brody's story ... I can't imagine that that's over. So I think it's in their best interest and good for the audience to stay in touch with Dana and be part of her life and see what's going on in her life. Especially given the fact that she and Brody, I'm sure, will be in a room together again before the end of the season.
"Homeland" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.
What did you think of "Tower of David"?