‘Homeland’ Finale: Showrunner Alex Gansa Talks Season 6, Carrie’s Future and Planning the End Game

Alex Gansa Office
Jessica Chou for Variety

An uneasy transfer of power in Washington, the plague of fake news and legal targeting of Muslims were the big themes of “Homeland’s” sixth season.

In keeping with the show’s prescient tradition, those topics were also front and center in real-world headlines during the show’s run, which concludes Sunday with the finale, “America First,” written by Alex Gansa and Ron Nyswaner and directed by Lesli Linka Glatter.

“Homeland” showrunner/exec producer Alex Gansa took time out from putting the finishing touches on the episode to speak with Variety about surprises from this season, adjustments made along the way, and his hope to return Carrie Mathison to full-time intelligence work soon. He also says they’re hoping to map out a two-season storyline for what’s expected to be the show’s final outings in seasons seven and eight.

“Homeland” storylines usually reflect real-world headlines in some way. What surprised you this year about how your show dovetailed with real events?

The most surprising and alarming coincidence was that the very thing we had posited a year ago in February — that is a President-elect in an adversarial relationship with her own intelligence community – actually came to the fore after President Trump got elected was just a coincidence of epic proportions. Frankly that was the biggest surprise second only to the fact that Donald Trump got elected in the first place. That dynamic – a newly elected President at war with her intelligence community was really the fulcrum that the entire season hinged on. The fact that it played out in the real world on the national stage was shocking to witness. There were some other (developments) that made us go back into some episodes to retrofit them.


‘Homeland’: Mandy Patinkin, Alex Gansa 9/11 Museum Tour Sets Stage for NYC-Set Season

Can you give an example?

The whole idea of fake news and propaganda – that seemed to take on a much more prominent role as we moved into our story. The one major thing we went back in and changed was introducing our Brett O’Keefe character much earlier than we intended. He was originally scheduled to be introduced in episode eight. But we went back in and did some reshoots and new scenes to introduce him in episode two.

Actor Jake Weber has been terrific in the role.

I’m told (conservative firebrand) Alex Jones has challenged him to a fist fight.

Weber’s face-off with Elizabeth Marvel as President-elect Elizabeth Keane in episode 11 was one of the more intense scenes of the season.

These are two characters who just appeared this season – the fact that they could command such a powerful place in this episode is a testament to their skills as actors. The two of them together was just electric.


Elizabeth Marvel as Elizabeth Keane in HOMELAND (Season 6, Episode 12).- Photo:  JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME - Photo ID:  HOMELAND_611_1352.R

‘Homeland’ Recap: ‘R for Romeo’ Tackles Big Picture Questions, Intimate Moments

You were clear all along in the lead-up to season six that “Homeland’s” female President-elect was not meant to be a thinly veiled Hillary Clinton. But were you concerned about that choice after Trump pulled off his upset win?

Absolutely. There was a moment we all just slapped our foreheads and wondered if the show was going to be irrelevant from that point forward. However, the story of the President-elect in an adversarial situation with her own intelligence community, that certainly wouldn’t have been Hillary Clinton. She was an establishment candidate. She was front and center of American foreign policy for years. …In a crazy way, the show would have been more irrelevant if Hillary would have been elected. The fact that Donald Trump and his team were in such a contentious relationship made the show feel current and contemporaneous. We lost on the gender but we certainly gained on the dynamic.

Have you gotten any feedback on the show from Trump or anyone in the administration?

Not a word. I have absolutely no idea if he watches.

You and the rest of the “Homeland” team are known for making an annual research trip to Washington, D.C. to connect with the real Carrie Mathisons and Saul Berensons. Are you concerned about access in the Trump era?

That’s a very good point. There are apparently commissars set up in all these departments to ensure loyalty to the new president. We’re headed to D.C. at the end of this month. I’ll report back.

Will President Keane have any presence in season seven?

I have to plead the Fifth on that. I don’t want to say anything that directly impacts what happens in (Sunday’s) finale.

In bringing the show to New York, was it a challenge to craft a storyline that was focused on the home front? There was no external menace to battle this time around.

The decision not to dramatize some big terrorist attack on New York City happened very early in the story (development) process. On our annual field trip to D.C. a year ago February, we were told in no uncertain terms by our intelligence community consultants, the State Department and military and CIA people that we talked to that there were no coordinated terror cells in the United States like there are in Europe. We did not want to dramatize on “Homeland” any threats to the United States that did not exist. That made us have to reconceive our idea of the villain. It did require a lot of trial and error to get us to the place where we wound up. We settled on the people inside our government.

Is there a reckoning coming for Carrie and Peter Quinn coming in Sunday’s finale?

If you remember how the season began, the very first drama this season was between Carrie and Quinn in the veterans’ hospital. That in our minds was the emotional center of this season – the unique and singular relationship between Carrie Mathison and Peter Quinn. We really tried to investigate that this year.

Is there anything you’ll divulge about plans for season seven?

One thing I can tell you about next season is that we have to get Carrie back into the intelligence business. She’s been out of it for two years. It’s time for her to return. We have to construct some sort of narrative to allow that to happen.

As you head in to what is expected to be the show’s final two seasons, are you mapping out seasons seven and eight as a single story arc? Or will you reset the storyline as you have in each season to date?

I’m really at the very beginning of thinking about the last two seasons. The hope would be to tell one story that takes us through the last two seasons so that we don’t have to reinvent in the last season. We’d like to start a story in season seven that brings the series in for a landing. We’ll see if that happens. That’s the hope. (But) it’s hard to know until we start noodling around and make our trip to D.C. and until we decide where we want Carrie Mathison to be at the end of this journey.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 18

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Gaia says:

    The thing about stupidity is that it takes an intelligent person to do something atrociously stupid. Mr. Gansa falls in either the category of ‘genius’ or ‘idiot’ depending on how one feels about Peter Quinn’s death. In my opinion, he’s a genius because he did something so incredibly stupid in killing Quinn’s character. That was a dumb thing to do. Good luck with the next 2 seasons. I’m no longer interested.

  2. Vânia says:

    The last episode of the sixth season was terrible! You were lost in the script, “killed” important people, left without explanation. Anyway it was the worst final

  3. Vânia says:

    The sixth season was terrible! You were lost in the script, “killed” important people, left without explanation. Anyway it was the worst season!

  4. Kay says:

    Please bring back Brody.

  5. Larry says:

    Last episode was the worst ever. Saul in car number two which clearly blew up and was on fire and not one hair of his beard was out of place 10 minutes later in the show. Why all the arrests at the end of the show. Is the President meant to be a dictator now? None of these high ranking officials of each state department would be arrested until the federal government spent at least six months with hearings. This season ending episode was about as poorly done as it could be. I think they expected Hillary to win and when she didn’t they list their minds. How in the world are they going to fix this mess of a cliff hanger. Personally, I’m done with this show as it just gets worse every year.

  6. sock puppet says:

    Already they are talking about a two season arc, when this season might as well have ended with ‘to be continued’? The plot just kept getting sloppier with a disappointing final episode. The writing just isn’t there any more. Goodbye to Homeland for me.

  7. Julie Byrne says:

    There is no Homeland series without Carrie, Saul, and Quinn. They are the 3 that have always brought the show together and always will.

  8. Howar Berger says:

    This last episode was a terrible mess!! Alex Gansa should take a long rest away from writing after this piece of crap. So many plot twists and who is good and who is bad??. Too many stupid and ridiculous scenes( too many to list). Quinn drives thru a barricade where NO cars are allowed come in or get out…Never! Of course No other police or Army cars to follow them???
    Carrie’s logistics traveling light speed from NYC to Washington. Max shows up? and where was he all this time? The complex where he worked even though an FBI agent was killed on premises are breaking a million laws and still running? Jake Weber’s character had obvious connections with Dar is still on TV? What the hell happened to the General in charge?? Sol didn’t hardly say a word the whole episode and visits Dar of all people?? WHy? I could go on …love the show but how about writing something just a little credible and with Quinn going thru a barrier..I think he would know better! Why just get out with the president in full view of the crowd? And now to top off the most stupid of all ….the president seems sort of crazy……I really think Alex and team you could do better!!

    • bliz says:

      you’re right. Up to “this point,” EVERYTHING that has occurred on homeland has been unquestionably realistic…right

  9. D Macke says:

    Great season as always! I did want Carrie and Quinn to come together one more time, but I also want Carrie to have real stability in her future. Would love to see Saul and Carrie have a future! I am a loyal dedicated Homeland fan. I never miss a moment! Good job writers. Dar got it right. There’s something not quite right in the WH.

  10. Maxly says:

    Love this show! And I wasn’t expecting this season to end with so much up in the air. Can’t wait for next season! (And I thought killing Quinn was the right decision. There was nothing more to do with the character. His story was done. At least he got to go out heroically.)

  11. Debbie says:

    I’m done with this show. There was no need to kill off Quinn. Even if he wasn’t going to be on the show next season, they didn’t need to kill off his character – especially after all that he had suffered. They could have at least reunited him with his son or something and given him a reason to want to do therapy. But instead they just said “Screw you” to all the Quinn fans.

    • Seth Dwyer says:

      His death was the only way he could truly show that he cared for Carrie (that’s funny… Cared for Carrie). She saved his life and he saved hers.

      But now that they have pitted the president as a dictator of sorts, I would have rather have her die and Quinn be all okay.

    • bliz says:

      short term memories here: brody.,..

  12. C. Bernard says:

    Mad about Quinn dying. Not anxious about next season now.

  13. Julie says:

    Why did you guys kill off Peterson Quinn? Bring him back!!!!

    • Blue fish says:

      No Quinn, no show……they could have pumped 20 liters of universal donor blood as the got him on bypass……..medically in need of consult

More TV News from Variety