Big news on opening night at PaleyFest: In what EP-director Alex Gansa called a “tiny, tiny teaser,” he revealed that Homeland Season 5 will jump forward 2 1/2 years and that Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison will “no longer be an intelligence officer.” He also said the Showtime drama will be shooting the show in Europe, “probably in Germany.”
“OK, that was bigger than I intended,” Gansa joked. When asked by panel moderator Julie Chen what country Germany would be standing in for, he said, “I can’t say another word.”
Last season, Homeland was set in Pakistan and spurred criticism from Pakistani officials about the way the country and its government were portrayed, with the storyline implying that Pakistani officials are aiding the Taliban. The show used South Africa to stand in for Pakistan. The final episode of Season 4 returned to Washington, D.C.
Except for the dramatic change in Carrie’s resume, there were no big plot reveals, no news of whether Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn will be returning or even a start date for the season. Gansa did reveal that writers Alex Cary and Chip Johannessen are taking leaves of absence from the show next season.
At January’s TCA, President of Showtime Networks David Nevins set off a firestorm by saying about Homeland Season 5: “We’re not necessarily going to stay now and forever about the American — the U.S. relations in the Muslim world.” In the Q&A session, Gansa was asked about how extremists and the threat of ISIS might play into next season’s stories.“That’s the challenge every year,” he said. “Front and center (is) what’s happening in Syria and Iraq. As Alex (Cary) and Chip said, we try to humanize our villains and our adversaries. People down there are difficult to humanize and to understand. How do we dramatize — do we give them a platform? I don’t know.”
Gansa said earlier in the panel that each year the producing/writing staff goes to Washington D.C. to take a political temperature of the nation. Last season, he said many who were interviewed said if they had a choice for a posting, it would be Islamabad, the setting for much of Season 4.
Without revealing any intentions for the show to follow the same advice this year, writer Johannessen said he heard this quote from those in D.C.: “If I were working today, I would want to be on the ground in Syria.”
Along with Gansa, Danes and Johannessen, the panel also included EP/writers Meredith Stiehm and Cary, actor Maury Sterling, DGA Award-winning EP/director Lesli Linka Glatter and composer Sean Callery.