The intriguing and dangerous relationship between Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) and CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) has kept audiences glued to the edge-of-your-seat thriller Homeland and left them wanting more. With the fate of our nation at stake, this gripping and emotional thriller is back and stronger than ever for a third season, premiering on September 29th.
While at the Showtime portion of the TCA Press Tour, executive producer/writer Alex Gansa talked about what went into the decision to hold back the appearance of Brody in Season 3, the big themes of this season, what led them to make Dana Brody (Morgan Saylor) a more prominent character, the backlash for Season 2, new international locations, what led them to this particular story for Season 3, and that there could be some deaths in the main cast, this season. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
Question: Since he’s not in the first two episodes, what went into your decision to hold back the appearance of Brody in Season 3? Do you think there might be a backlash from fans who want to see where Brody is sooner?
ALEX GANSA: The decision to not have Brody in the first two episodes was strictly a function of the story and where the story was taking us. So much was transpiring on the ground in Washington that Brody’s flight from America just made it impossible to include that storyline in the first couple of episodes. And whether there’s a backlash or not is completely out of our control.
Sometimes it’s really hard to know what is considered a spoiler. Do you consider it a betrayal if we write about Brody not appearing in the first two episodes? And since he’s obviously still in the show, can you say when he will show up?
GANSA: I don’t think it’s a betrayal to say that he’s not in the first two episodes, but it would be a betrayal for me to tell you when he is in the show.
What are the big themes of this season?
GANSA: Certainly, one of the themes of Season 3 is the cost being an intelligence officer exacts on the people who are in that career. I think Saul and Carrie are obviously the prime examples of that, this season. As a result of the attack last year, the CIA itself is on trial. That is an agency that couldn’t even protect itself. How should it be expected to protect the country? And Saul is confronted with that very question, in the first episode. Saul finds himself in a very unique and different position than he’s ever been in before, now that he is sitting in the director’s chair. He’s been quite comfortable on the sidelines, for the last 20 years, criticizing and making suggestions. All of a sudden, he finds himself now having to make the decisions. And with the actual existence of the CIA in question, he has to make some very uncharacteristic choices that he’s not comfortable making, and one of them obviously has direct bearing on his protégé, Carrie Mathison. So, we find Saul in a very difficult spot, as a man who is loath to make decisions, now forced to make the most important ones of his life, and not only have direct consequences for a woman who is his protégé and who he loves as a daughter, but also in terms of the CIA itself. I think he’s actually fearful that he might be the last director of the CIA, so where it might seem his actions are out of character, I think he finds himself in a position that his character is not used to being in. That’s what generates these different responses.
While this is obviously a Carrie Mathison/Brody story, Dana Brody is potentially becoming one of the pivotal characters. What led you to that decision, and what originally made you decide to cast Morgan Saylor in that role?
GANSA: Almost all of the writers on the staff have kids who are exactly that age, so we bring that into the room, all the time. And I think the reason why we cast Morgan is because she clearly represented that in her audition, in a way that was so much more credible than your usual teenage, eye-rolling character. She just felt real to us.
For all of the critical love that there is for this show, in Season 2, there was also a bit of a backlash about credibility issues. Do you have any response to that, and did you keep that in mind when you were putting together Season 3?
GANSA: I don’t think we were responding to it in Season 3. Our job is to put the shows out, in the best way we think possible, and it’s your job to like it or not like it. I obviously wish the backlash had never happened, but it didn’t really influence either the way we rolled out Season 2, or Season 3. The show built an audience, all through Season 2, and our 11 Emmy nominations are a nice comeback.
You filmed parts of Seasons 1 and 2 in Israel. Are there any international locations, this time around?
GANSA: Yes. We shot some scenes from a number of episodes down in Puerto Rico this year, and we will probably be going back to Israel to shoot the last couple of episodes of the season.
Given the way that Season 2 ended, you could have done a number of things with both Brody and the Brody family. How did you come to the decision you did for where you wanted to go with Season 3?
GANSA: A lot of different scenarios were considered. We lost a couple of writers from Season 2. Henry Bromell tragically died, Meredith Stiehm went on to create The Bridge, which is a fabulous show on FX, and Alex Cary was off doing a pilot that Howard [Gordon] and I were supervising. So, we brought in a couple of writers, and the writers were fans of the show, so we were able to ask them some very pertinent questions, like “Are we interested in watching the Brody family, if Nick Brody isn’t part of the mix, since he’s on the lam?” And it was interesting because it was a unanimous consensus that there was interest in those people. There was interest in Jessica and Dana and Chris, and we took comfort in that. We felt we had to honor those people that we created and see what their lives would their lives be like, after this devastating attack, and after their father and husband was accused of being the guy who did it. And also, all these other things were happening. There was the Sandy Hook shooting and there was the Boston Marathon bombing, and all these family members are always paraded in front of the cameras. It felt like a very good avenue to explore how this would reverberate down onto those people, so we made that choice to dramatize their story.
Could there be some deaths this season, from the main cast?
Homeland returns to Showtime for Season 3 on September 29th.