Carrie Mathison hanging up her CIA badge? That appears to be happening in the upcoming fifth season of “Homeland.”
During the opening session of PaleyFest at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood Friday night, “Homeland” showrunner Alex Gansa dropped a few tidbits about the Showtime drama’s fifth season during the Q&A session with star Claire Danes and exec producers .
The time frame of the show will jump ahead two and a half years from where it left off at the close of season four in December. “Homeland” will shoot in Europe later this year, probably Germany, after lensing last year in Cape Town, South Africa, which subbed for Pakistan.
Most intriguing, Gansa said, Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison “will no longer be an intelligence officer,” he said.
Gansa wouldn’t elaborate on what he described as a “tiny teaser,” but a few minutes later he mentioned the importance of Germany and Europe in relation to concerns about terrorism and Western security issues. To the news that Carrie is no longer an intelligence officer, Danes joked: “She’s making beer.”
The session moderated by Julie Chen, co-host of CBS’s daytime series “The Talk,” focused on how the “Homeland” sausage is made, as the panel was largely populated by exec producers Alexander Cary, Chip Johannessen, Patrick Harbinson, Meredith Stiehm, director/exec producer Lesli Linka Glatter and composer Sean Callery. The only other actor was Maury Sterling, who plays CIA operative Max.
The conversation revealed a strong divide among the “Homeland” writers on the decision to explore a romance between Carrie and her co-worker Quinn, the ruthless assassin played by Rupert Friend. The male writers (other than Gansa) were against bringing those two together. Stiehm was for it, but the debate in the writers room kept it from blossoming (briefly) until the final episode of season four, which Stiehm wrote.
“I was a fierce advocate for it,” Stiehm said. “I felt there was something in the air (between the two) from day one.”
Danes was asked about the shocking scene early on in season four where a grief-stricken Carrie briefly appears to consider drowning her infant daughter. She knew it would be a dangerous move because it could alienate the audience entirely. “That seemed like a pretty real challenge to an audience. I don’t know if there is a greater taboo than an unloving mother,” Danes said.
As Gansa described the difficult shooting of the scene with an underwater camera to capture the baby’s perspective — Danes was quick to interject: “It was not a real baby — I just want to clarify.”
Danes got the biggest rise of the night out the crowd when an audience member asked her about Carrie’s infamous “cry face” — the bulging eyes and quivering jaw look that has become an Internet meme unto itself.
“I swear to god it’s just what my face does,” Danes said, blushing. “It’s just how I cry.” She noted that her skill at crying was evident even when she was a teenager working on ABC’s “My So-Called Life” some 20 years ago.
Gansa was thoughtful when asked if the show would address the beheadings and other unspeakable acts of cruelty attributed in the past year to the Islamist terror group ISIS.
“Homeland” is known for reflecting and even predicting the stories and situations that will make international headlines. Last season’s focus on Pakistan touched a nerve, even as it drew criticism from some for its portrayal of the country that has long been an uneasy ally with the U.S.
“Homeland” also makes an effort to humanize the antagonists in its stories, explaining the political dynamic from the perspective of those who see the U.S. as an occupying force in the Middle East. That might be a bridge too far when it comes to ISIS.
“Do we give them a platform?” Gansa said. “I don’t know. It’s an interesting question…We’re one of the few shows that gets to really comment on current events. We take that responsibility very seriously.”