On Friday afternoon, Showtime invited all the reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour to a Homeland-themed lunch and stuffed them with Middle Eastern food, probably because when we're full, we're less likely to ask mean-spirited questions about Dana Brody.
Showrunner Alex Gansa kicked off the event by delivering a live press release, announcing that Homeland's fourth season will debut on Sunday, October 5 at 9pm.
He also took the opportunity to release the first real trailer for Season 4, which looks pretty good and appears to be hitting the reset button by sending Carrie back into the field with no romantic entanglements keeping her back:
And then it was time for a panel discussion with Gansa as well as executive producers Meredith Stiehm and Alex Cary. Here are the highlights:
– Former executive producer Howard Gordon isn't part of Season 4, but Gansa said that Gordon hasn't really been part of the show's day-to-day process since the pilot. Gordon is currently overseeing Tyrant for FX.
– How believable was it that Carrie was able to secure a promotion in light of her struggles with mental stability? "Emotionally, she has stabilized," Gansa said, and then Stiehm chimed in to add, "I think there are some people who are so talented that you forgive past deeds, and Carrie Mathison is one of those people." Gansa pointed out that what Carrie and Saul were able to pull off in Season 3 was incredible: they were able to get two countries to talk who hadn't spoke in decades. He said he views their actions as a success, and that it's plausible that Carrie would be rewarded with a promotion.
– Speaking of Carrie and Saul's long con, which infuriated many viewers, the producers remained steadfast in their defense of the storyline. "That was a twist that was long in the works and we worked incredibly hard to deliver it in a believable way," Gansa said. "If people didn't read that while they were watching, then okay." He said Carrie and Saul weren't acting like themselves because they weren't acting like themselves, and that 95 percent of what Carrie was going through (when she was in the mental hospital and Saul was assassinating her character) was real. For what it's worth, I still think that whole story was horrible and a total rip-off.
– What's the status of Brody's family? Gansa said it's currently hard to say, but they're "probably not" going to appear.
– Gansa said the writers spent about two weeks seriously considering setting the show in Israel, but he's happy they didn't. Obviously.
– There will be "five or six new characters" this season, including one played by Life of Pi's Suraj Sharma, who Carrie will try to
– The actor who played Carrie's father, James Rebhorn, passed away in March. The show will honor him, but producers are not saying how.
– Gansa said they "got a huge kick out of" Saturday Night Live's 2012 parody of Homeland.
– What was the team's reaction to general viewer disappointment in Season 3? "We love our show," Gansa said. "We take criticism seriously and personally." He explained that Brody's participation in Season 3 was limited because the producers didn't feel like they had enough to do with him. Gansa couldn't seem understand how people could look at the last six or seven episodes of Season 3 and not think Homeland is one the best shows on television. Especially the last two episodes; he thought they were among the best the series has ever done. He also said he's hurt that Homeland didn't earn an Emmy nomination.
– Now that Brody is out of the picture and the series is taking place primarily overseas, what's Season 4 all about? In one phrase, "The private and public costs of keeping America safe," Gansa said.