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Lesli Linka Glatter Breaks Down the Beginning of the End of ‘Homeland’

Framing the Scene: 'Homeland EP Lesli Linka Glatter' Examines Key Scenes From Episode 1

Claire Danes as Carrie in HOMELAND,
Sifeddine Elamine

The idea that Showtime’s “Homeland” is drawing to an end after eight seasons hasn’t quite sunken in yet for executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter.

“It’s bittersweet,” she admits. “In any career, you only get a few of these where the material is incredible, challenging and provocative.”

But although she is already onto scouting locations for her next project, “The Banker’s Wife,” but she still took time out to reflect on the beginning of the end with Variety.

Last “Homeland” left Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) at the end of the penultimate season, she was in Russia. In the final season, she is finally free after being incarcerated and handed back to her mentor, fellow CIA agent and mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). But with the last seven months of her life blank in her memory, there is a question of whether or not she can be trusted. It brings the show full circle to “Homeland’s” premiere season, when Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) was saved from being a prisoner of war — but there were questions about whether he had been turned into a terrorist.

Here, Linka Glatter breaks down the start of the final season, including Carrie’s motivation and the emotional toll meeting her asset’s widow takes on her. What lies ahead for Carrie? All Linka Glatter teases is that this week’s episode “shifts. There are going to be some big dramatic shifts.”

Linka Glatter: When we first see Carrie [in the Season 8 premiere], she’s much better. She’s lost a lot of her memory and is struggling to get it back and piecing it together. Carrie was the one questioning Nick’s loyalty and now, everyone is questioning her and I love the full circle of it all. Even the title of 8.01 is “Deception Indicated.”

She’s working out and committed to filling in the gaps, doing whatever she has to be considered to be ready to be back to the field again. We see what’s going on inside of her and obviously, [but] no one is seeing that. Only Saul trusts her explicitly and knows what it’s like to go through that harsh interrogation. I love that right at the beginning, she is stuck with this supervisor Jim Turrow [David Hunt] who is not quite buying it. Carrie is very good at getting people on her side, but this guy won’t be turned around to her side.

The intention of that opening was to be in her shoes and it’s not exactly a comfortable place to be. We cut to flashbacks to show the glimpses of torture and what she was going through, but it’s not the full picture.

Saul and Carrie’s relationship is the foundation of the show. Carrie hasn’t done so well in her relationships with men, but Saul is this father figure/mentor to her. For him, she is a protégé. When Saul asks how she’s doing, he’s told she’s getting better and healing. He makes this choice to take her out. He takes her out because for him, it’s mission first.

She isn’t completely honest with him and she puts mission first, too. That whole moment is the irony that makes their relationship complicated and layered and they’re not completely honest with each other.

Carrie just can’t wait to be back in the field and if somehow she’s back out there, it’s all going to be OK and fall into place. So she believes. It’s this thing where you let her get working again and the pieces will present themselves.

Carrie gets to Kabul and there’s this point where Saul says, “Any asset you turn over, we protect it.” Agents have undeclared assets and this was one of them; no one knew about Roshan. She’s playing that razor-thin line and that game you have to play as a CIA agent.

The scene where she gets out of the embassy was based on the real agent who Carrie is based on. She was based in Iraq at the time and that’s how she got out: by dressing as a man and traveling on a motorcycle. So, we used that for this. Also, you can’t leave in Kabul without an armored vehicle.

That scene with Carrie and Roshan’s widow is powerful because she goes out and what she finds is her asset has been killed. She’s horrified and shocked and says to the widow, “I was not in Kabul.” Carrie believes everything she’s saying is true, but then there’s a moment in the scene [where] you see it on her face [that] she wonders if it’s true, and the one thing you’re never meant to do as an agent is give up an asset. You see the horror on her face. That whole moment was really powerful.

When we get to the command outpost and Max [Maury Sterling] is not a military guy and he has been sent there by the NSA to make sure there are listening devices on the border. This is all critical as all this stuff is going on as they’re trying to find peace in this war.

One of the things I wanted to be clear about as a director, was the point of view and who was taking you through the scene so you are in their shoes when they’re going through it. We juxtapose that with the scale of the mountain and that last outpost in the middle of nowhere. You also wanted to be with Max and he’s in this world that is so out of his normal reality.

The world has gotten more unstable and we reflect that by mixing the modes of how we use the camera: We put the handheld on a dolly [so] you feel a bit unsteady, and then we go to Steadicam to the dolly to handheld to Easyrig, and we don’t make it obvious. We wanted to make it almost imperceptible, but what you feel emotionally is this unsettling sense of anxiety. You are in the shoes of the people going through this. The world is unstable and we are living in a climate of intense anxiety. That’s what we’re doing to hopefully emotionally make you feel something.

We reflect on it in the music. If you’re fast-paced without the ebbs and flow, then you get immune to it. You need this musical ebb and flow. You don’t need everything to be on the edge, so when it’s happening you don’t know what’s coming next.

Our editors are amazing. We go through a lot of story pretty quickly. I think the fact that we are reflecting on what’s going on in the world in the fact that things are coming at you from all directions all the time. You might settle between two people or ten people, but then you are back in it again. It’s that constant juxtaposition that creates the energy of what’s going on in the show.

“Homeland” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Showtime.