'Homeland': Finale Surprise Planned From Start

Showtime's David Nevins lauds 'fearless' work by producers, stars

The surprise ending of ‘Homeland’s third season was plotted from the start of the season by the production team, with the backing of Showtime brass.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

Damian Lewis’ character famously cheated death at the end of season one because the chemistry between Brody and Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison was so strong. But Showtime and “Homeland” producers knew Nicholas Brody — the troubled, tortured Marine who was only understood by an equally troubled CIA agent — could not survive forever, not after what writers put him through over the past 36 episodes.

Showtime entertainment prexy David Nevins said Brody’s season three arc was meticulously plotted from the start. The decision to kill the character was made by exec producer Alex Gansa and Co., with his full support.

“Those guys could always change their mind, but this was essentially laid out from the beginning (of production on the season),” Nevins told Variety. “They laid it out very clearly from the beginning and they stuck to their plan.”

Hard as it is to say goodbye to Lewis, Nevins said he knew that the timing was right. “Homeland” has always been about taking big swings, and a violent end to the Brody-Mathison relationship was a shakeup that would be good for the show in the long run.

“It definitely felt right to me,” Nevins said. “We always knew there was going to be a limit how long that character could survive, so I think it played exactly right. Ultimately it was (the producers’) call, and I was very thrilled with how they handled it.”

Nevins could not say enough about the intensity of the performances delivered by Danes and Lewis this season, particularly in the last few segs. He made a point of having dinner with Lewis about halfway through production on season three to express his appreciation and admiration.

“He knew this moment was eventually going to come,” Nevins said. “He’s such an amazing person, and there are so many different things he can do (as an actor). He handled it beautifully. I love him personally and I love him as an actor.”

The production of season three was trying on all involved as it involved a fair amount of globe-trotting. Parts of the season opener were shot in Tel Aviv, and parts of the finale were lensed in Morocco. There was a groundswell of emotion on the set after the Brody hanging sequence was lensed, and in the quiet final sequence as Carrie draws a memorial star on the CIA wall for her fallen lover.

“Filming that scene was hard for everybody. We heard from the set that it was very emotional,” Nevins said.

Showtime execs, of course, have heard all of the critical carping about what many feel are the show’s shortcomings after its white-hot first season. In Nevins view, “Homeland” continues to deliver on its central promise — as evidenced by some of the most compelling moments in the finale as Brody and Carrie discussed the nuances of political assassination.

“The show’s stock in trade has always been about weaving the personal and the political into a narrative,” Nevins said. “It came together beautifully last night.

“I’m very pleased with how this season unfolded,” Nevins continued. “It’s my job to create the environment for creative people to take big swings and big risks. Alex, Damian, Claire and the writing staff demonstrate a lot of courage in how they tackle the show. They never choose the easy road out. I love these people. They are fearless storytellers.”

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