OK, he admits it: Homeland showrunner/executive producer Alex Gansa said the lack of a drama series Emmy nomination in 2014 “hurt.” The critics hurt, too. “I don’t know how you can look at the last episodes of the season, especially the last two episodes [and not believe] they are the best we’ve ever done,” Gansa said at today’s TCA. “But we’re going to get back on the mountain again.”

Gansa was speaking at a luncheon panel along with executive producers Alexander Cary and Meredith Steihm. The three revealed a few plot developments for Season 4, which Showtime announced earlier in the day would premiere October 5.

Homeland Season 4Gansa started off with the joking promise to “only kill most of your favorite characters,” adding to laughter: “I can guarantee that Dana Brody will not be back for Season 4” (a reference to Brody’s moody teenage daughter whom many critics thought got way too much moping screen time in Season 3).

But the writer-producers dropped a few real story tidbits: Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison’s bipolar illness has stabilized and in her new Middle Eastern setting will be on the tail of a new character, “someone whom she’s recruiting and trying to get his trust.” Steihm added that this is just one of “5 or 6 new characters” who will be added. Steihm confirmed that the character Carrie pursues as a recruit is portrayed by Life Of Pi‘s non-CGI star Suraj Sharma.

The writers also said they are “very invested” in developing the character of Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) as a Brody-like foil for Carrie. They said that Saul (Mandy Patinkin) would be moving into the private sector in the contracting business. His move will have an “intelligence complication” since he will be involved in Middle East reconstruction after the U.S. withdrawal of troops.

Gansa declined to reveal how the series will handle the death of actor James Rebhorn, who portrayed Carrie’s father, the custodian of her baby as she relocates to the Middle East.

The three spent most of their time defending Season 3. Carey said that some characters’ actions might seem baffling to viewers but make sense when one is privy to the behind-the-scenes world of the CIA. When asked about the final plot twist, he insisted: “We got it right.”

Another thing they got right: Deciding not to shoot in the Middle East. “For about two weeks we thought about shooting in Israel and we’re really happy that we didn’t,” Gansa said.