'Homeland' season 3: Scoop on Brody's absence, Saul's tough spot, and Carrie's 'bleak' start

Last season of Homeland ended with a literal and figurative bang, and this season kicks off with more than a few pieces to pick up.

Monday, cast and producers, including Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, Rupert Friend, and producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon spoke at the Television Critics Association press tour to preview the third season. See below for the highlights.

On Carrie this season: “It’s pretty bleak in the very beginning because she’s gone off her meds for lots of reasons that she believes really strongly in,” previewed Danes, adding that Carrie and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) will remain “very deeply connected because they experienced that trauma in a way no one else has.” “She does feel a certain level of betrayal,” she said, “and also both Saul and Carrie share an enormous and profound amount of guilt and responsibility for this loss.”

On Damian Lewis’s absence: Viewers will not see Brody in the first two episodes of the season, and while some viewers might be disappointed, Gansa said it was a necessary move. “The decision to not have Brody in the first two episodes was just a function of storyline,” he said. Lewis added: “Brody is on the lam…he’s the most wanted criminal in the world so he has to lay low and I think when you do see Brody I think you will see — and hopefully it will be of interest to the audience — is what state he will be in….I hope when you do see Brody for the first time it will be interesting.” Gansa declined to say when the character will first appear this season.

On this season’s theme: “One of the themes of season 3 is the cost that being an intelligence officer exacts on people,” said Gordon. “As a result of the attack last year, the CIA itself is on trial.”  Saul in particular, he said, will find himself in a “difficult position” as he is no longer on the sidelines at the agency. “All of a sudden he finds himself making decisions and with the actual existence of the CIA in question, he has to make some very uncharacteristic choices.”

On the Brody family this year: With Nicholas Brody out of the mix — and out of contact with his family — Gansa said the question did arise whether or not they should show the Brody family. Ultimately, said Gansa, “it was an unanimous consensus that there was interest in these people… and we took comfort in that.” “We felt we had to honor these people we created and what their lives would be like after this devastating attack,” he said. Moreover, he said, events like the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Boston bombing made them interested in the people behind the tragedies. “All these families are always paraded in front of the cameras, and we thought that would be interesting avenue to explore,” he said.

On how long Homeland will continue: “As long as you’ll have us,” said Gansa.

On season 2 criticism: Though Homeland’s second season was panned for having “credibility issues,” as one critic put it, Gansa said the producers and writers remained unfazed. “I honestly wish the backlash hadn’t happened but it didn’t really influence [the new season],” Gansa said. “And our 11 Emmy nominations are a nice comeback.”

On possible deaths: “No comment,” said Gansa.

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