Often prophetically ahead of real-life realpolitik, Showtime’s Homeland came to a very insurgent end earlier this year after eight seasons. The series’ conclusion was both unconventional and satisfying, Emmy winner Claire Danes said during Deadline’s Contenders Television virtual event.
“There was something subversive for us on ending with Carrie smiling,” the actor who portrayed brilliant but troubled former CIA officer Carrie Mathison on the show executive produced by Alex Gansa, who joined Danes on the panel. “She’s sacrificed so much and she is in a version of Hell, but her spirit is intact,” she added of a seemingly duplicitous Carrie now ensconced in Moscow as a double agent with Yevgeny Gromov (played by Costa Ronin).
“I was really happy with the shape of the final season,” Danes said of Homeland’s much-planned final 12 episodes that concluded in April. “I thought it was really smart to have Carrie so directly aligned with Brody in this final season … for her to be unsure of herself if she is a traitor or not,” a shout-out to the treacherous Damien Lewis character who was in the first three seasons.
With clear references to the show’s fourth season and its Afghanistan and Pakistan settings, the eighth and final season found a near-broken Mathison recovering from months of brutal confinement in a Russian gulag. Against that personal hellscape, the character was brought back into service by her mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) to aid in the backdrop of peace talks with the Taliban.
This being the curt but always complex Homeland, nothing is so straightforward, including what looks like the assassination of the U.S. president by the Islamic fundamentalist movement and the Russian-prodded march to a nuclear showdown with Islamabad. As the real-life Donald Trump administration tried to strike a deal to end the decades-long war in Afghanistan, the meticulously crafted Homeland once again seemed the beneficiary of some inside perspectives in the post-9/11 world.
“As you remember at the end of Season 3, we dispatched with the character of Nicholas Brody, and we were in the real difficult position of trying to reinvent the show at that time,” Gansa said. “That’s when our trips to DC really came to the fore, when they became so influential — and influential in a way that is really hard to overstate,” the showrunner said of what became known as spy camp among the Homeland team.
“We would go into those weeklong sessions in DC not really knowing where the season was going to be shot, what the story was going to be, and we allowed the free-form nature of that time in DC to really influence our storytelling,” Gansa said of the sit-downs with senior members of the intelligence community. “We are far less fortune tellers than just reporters of what we heard and experienced,” he added of the efforts of what was at one point President Barack Obama’s publicly confessed favorite show.
Produced by Disney’s Fox 21 Television Studios, Homeland is based on the original Israeli series Prisoners of War by Gideon Raff and was developed for U.S. TV by Gansa and Howard Gordon. Over the eight seasons on Showtime, Raff, Gansa and Gordon served as EPs alongside Chip Johannessen, Debora Cahn, director Lesli Linka Glatter, Patrick Harbinson, Danes, Michael Klick, Avi Nir and Ran Telem.
Check out the panel video above.