'Homeland' showrunner on that huge twist, and defending season 3

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After all that Carrie went through, we feel like we need a hug from Saul too. Do you promise to never mislead and abuse us again?
ALEX GANSA: A promise I cannot make.

You mentioned a moment ago that CIA consultants advise on the show. There’s a moment where the lawyer said what will happen to Carrie if she continues on her current path — that she’ll be beaten down, “controversialized,” and then she will be killed. Do you think that’s the way our government would treat an agent in that position?
Well, look. There’s a long ignoble tradition of intelligence agents eating their own. I would point you to [former CIA case officer] Bob Baer talking about Homeland in the New Republic. He says that’s one of the parts of Homeland that rings true to him. There are scapegoats who are thrown out who don’t deserve it. There is psychological pressure. You can be polygraphed at any moment. Your public and private life are scrutinized. You sign away a tremendous amount of your constitutional rights when you become an intelligence officer.

Talk about the addition of Fara (Nazanin Boniadi). Was it important to have another Muslim character on the good guy’s side?
The short answer is yes. But you will see she’s a conflicted character too. She’s not just wearing a white hat. Her allegiance is torn. But she feels compelled in the wake of this attack by the Iranians to lend a hand.

Another thing that’s interesting is that Saul and Fara’s intelligence gathering is leading them Caracas, where Brody is. So presumably those plot lines are intersecting at some point?
They intersect, but not in a literal way.

I really liked Brody’s episode in the Tower of David. It’s a very unique setting, What else can we expect with that storyline?
We had originally thought to set that story in a South Eastern or South American jungle, in a very Graham Greene-like setting. In fact, the character of the doctor is called Dr. Graham in honor of him. Then there was a piece in the New Yorker about the Tower of David in Caracus. And we thought that would be a very interesting and unique place to set the story. And a CIA intelligence agency does have some rather nefarious connections with South American drug dealers — you just have to witness what happened during Iran Contra scandal. So it’s quite plausible that Carrie might have had dealings with some warlords down there. We found an an empty building in San Juan where the construction have stopped.

I’m pretty sure people are going to be reacting on Twitter Sunday night to that road trip for Dana. Can you talk about that storyline?
Poor Dana has been getting some heat this season. Brody is a huge part of the architecture of this season as you’ll see as we move into the last eight episodes. And his relationship with his daughter is a big fulcrum in this season. We really had to set her emotional table here; what she’s been through as a result of what she thinks he’s done. That’s why we’re telling that story.

What’s your take on the online backlash?
I have stopped reading it. It started to drive me mad at the end of the last season, and I’m not kidding. I have stopped reading all that stuff. I hear anecdotally people think we’re giving her too much room on the show. It’s a story we thought we should be telling and it’s important to the last eight episodes.

I can’t help but empathize for the actress (Morgan Saylor), the content of the criticism seems over the top sometimes.
Bill Mahr had some funny things to say about the whole Twitter culture. People just have license to be so mean — about Mother Teresa for godsakes.

Is there any chance of Dana’s storyline intersecting with the rest of the story?
The story intersects on an emotional level. Her talking about her father lying to her while looking at the place he deployed — that’s an important emotional strand. That’s an important thematic strand. She feels she was lied to and the relationship she had with her father is bankrupt.

Another choice is that this is the first season without a clear sense of the potential villain or threat so far. Saul is investigating the Iranian group responsible for the CIA bombing, but that feels pretty distant at this point. Will that get clearer now?
That’s correct. You’ll start to understand who Majid Javadi is and the history Saul has with this person.

So if you were to tease the rest of the season, how would you do it?
We’ve got some new characters stepping up to the stage. Sen. Lockhart is coming back. We got Dar Adal as major character now. We got Fara. Quinn is going to be a major character this season. The theme of this season is the cost of being an intelligence officer. We will see that. We’ve already seen that Quinn shot that kid — that’s going to be big part of the show.  This season will begin to pick up pace now. By the time we move into the last five episodes, we’ll be back in breakneck speed again. In the writer’s room, we’ve been playing a long con too.

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