Homeland concluded its third season Sunday with the biggest game-changing move (and biggest ratings) in the acclaimed Showtime drama’s history: No more Brody! Executing the redeemed Marine was a creative decision that felt entirely necessary, yet has some fans irked. Below, showrunner Alex Gansa takes our questions about the surprisingly conclusively plotted finale and teases the show’s very wide-open future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So the show’s over now, right?
Alex Gansa: No, but I take your point. It did feel like a series finale. When you see that star at the end and realize this central relationship is over, there’s no question this show is undergoing a major reinvention or reboot for season four.
What are you going to do now?
I’m really not thinking about it yet. The only thing that’s dancing around in the back of our heads is the temptation to show Carrie doing what she was trained to do — and that’s being a case officer in a foreign capitol. That feels like an interesting place to begin a discussion.
To me the sense of finality in the episode was pretty bold, I kept expecting some sort of cliffhanger element like previous seasons, but that probably would have felt cheap after losing Brody.
The entire season was structured around this ending. Not specifically Brody being hung in the public square in Tehran, but we knew Brody wasn’t going to survive this season. His character has been such a huge part of the show. The title [of the finale] “The Star” had a few meanings; he was certainly one of the two stars of this show. And losing a character like that is painful. Damian Lewis is a phenomenal actor; Brody was such a central character. It was a very difficult decision and one we wanted to honor and not clutter with other things. That’s why the last two episodes played out as they did.
How did Showtime executives react to the news that this time you’re really killing Brody, dammit?
Even though they were understandably hesitant about making a major move like this, when they heard from the writers the story needed to conclude and we needed to move on, I think they just ultimately respect that. Their push-back in seasons 1 and 2, I’m tremendously grateful for that. I think the way we were able to bring Brody’s story to a close was worth it.
Could Brody still appear as a dream? Flashback?
I would say highly doubtful. But you never know.
Is there a specific reason Istanbul was picked as Carrie’s new destination?
Only [Turkey's] proximity to Iran. They share a border, and it would be easier to run Javadi from that location. Also I hear it’s a fabulous city to go shoot in.
Oh, so you think for season 4 you’ll be shooting on location in Turkey?
I don’t know yet, honestly. There’s so many variables. I think it would be very interesting to do a portion of the season overseas.
So that would also mean Javadi will be back?
Again, it’s an open question. One of the great things about season to season is how much time passes. We could jump ahead quite far — or not. And all those decisions will reverberate, and one of those is whether Javadi will come back and play a major role in season 4, or is there some new challenge Carrie will have to confront.
Some fans are worried Saul (Mandy Patinkin) is off the show, but I assume he’ll be back.
Everybody should rest assured that Mandy Patinkin is coming back as a series regular. I can tell you that with 100 percent certainty. Although he’s not at a desk at Langley anymore, the CIA does outsource a lot of jobs to private contractors. He’s going to be in that circle. He’s still in the intelligence-gathering profession and the CIA could use somebody of his immense skills and knowledge for various intelligence work.
We know they are no longer series regulars, so will Dana and Jessica appear next season at all?
I would be a little less definitive about that. There very well may be room for them in a few episodes. Carrie might circle back and connect with one of them for this reason or that — the main reason being to inform them exactly why and how Brody died, which right now has to be kept as a very tightly held secret. The last thing the Revolutionary Guard or the Ayatollahs in Tehran would want to hear is that this was actually a CIA operation. It has to play out that Brody was out of his mind when he killed Akbari. That has to be the official story so that whatever delicate peace negotiations transpire can move forward.
One thing that threw me: Wouldn’t Iranian intelligence know that Brody isn’t the Langley bomber?
Only one person knows that definitively and that’s Abu Nazir. You have to understand that Tehran outsourced the Langley bombing operation to Abu Nazir and relied on him to carry that out. They were not hands-on involved, they used Nazir’s network on the ground as proxies.
How do you think motherhood will impact Carrie?
That question going to be front and center when we reconvene the story room. Does she take the kid with her to Istanbul? Does she leave it with her father?
What would you say to fans who are upset by Brody’s death and swearing off the show?
[Sighs] You know, I would say this: We’re sad too. We mourn not only the character’s passing, but also a phenomenal actor, Damian Lewis, not being on our stages. But the show is going to move on, and it will move on with some of its fans, if not all of its fans. Some people want it to be a spy show, some want it to be a love show, some people want it to be god knows what. We’re not going to satisfy everybody. And Brody’s demise, it felt like the right time to us. His shelf life as a interesting vital character whose presence on screen felt compelling every time he was on it was coming to a close. You can look at his limited appearances this season was testament to that. We wanted him in front of the camera when it meant something.