Last night's season two finale of Homeland was not only hugely important for the characters, but the show itself since the last string of episodes drew a significant amount of criticism from fans and critics alike. Could one episode re-write all those wrongs?
The answer is yes. And no.
While there were massive strides in the right direction (including the literal and figurative bomb that functioned as a min-reset button for many of the surviving characters), this morning has found countless critics citing Carrie's episode ending decision as one more mistake in a string of bad choices. Personally, I love that season three will be simultaneously about Carrie's public hunt for fugitive Brody and private hunt for the person who seemingly framed him.
To find out what else season three could look like, and look back on the impact of season two, Homeland executive producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon were joined by exiting star David Harewood (R.I.P. David Estes) on a conference call with reporters to talk about the past, present and future of the Emmy-winning series.
Question: What was the thrust of the final season?
Alex Gansa: It was just getting to the moment where Nazir and Walden were dead, and there was this deluded possibility that Carrie and Brody could have a happy ending. Last season ended with Carrie as the only one who believed Brody was guilty and this season ends with Carrie being the only one believes Brody is innocent. That was the rough architecture for the year.
Question: Who moved Brody's car in front of the memorial service?
Gansa: We do have our ever-present mole who could have been responsible for moving the car in front of the auditorium. The investigators are going to believe that Brody was in that car when it exploded [and] he might be considered the one who moved it. If Brody was in his car when that bomb exploded, there's a good chance there would be nothing left of him. He would be incinerated to ash. Those are the possibilities running around in our heads.
Question: Should we believe that Brody is innocent?
Gansa: A lot of people have told me they still have a glimmer of doubt about Brody. If you watch his behavior throughout the finale, it's a little uncertain. Don't forget he was willing to blow himself up in the first season – this very well may have been a suicide play. It's up to you to interpret. We deliberately left the door open a little bit for that possibility. The ambivalence about Brody has been present since the pilot. His motivations and his allegiance have been called into question over and over again. I don't think you can end that definitely. I'm sure Carrie will have a moment or two of doubt next season if he was convincing in his arguments.
Question: What can you tease about season three?
Gansa: Carrie has promised Brody she is going to clear his name. Brody does have a head start of a few days. He is privy to Carrie's best contacts. Brody has the benefit of that network. There is [also] the aftermath of what we consider the next 9/11, how the country responds to that and how the intelligence agency is going to pick itself off the ground and start functioning again. They're all open questions for us right now. I think Howard [Gordon] and me and the writing staff had a much clearer picture of what the first two seasons would be than we do about the third season. [Brody's] involvement and his family's involvement is very much up in the air with what happened in the finale.
Question: Can you ever envision a time when Homeland won't be about Carrie and/or Brody?
Gansa: I think that it's an open question, but inevitably that's going to happen. If you look at these two seasons, we've told a significant part of [the Carrie & Brody] story. If there's a chapter 3, it's going to have to be a reinvention of some kind. Carrie and Saul trying to keep the world safe.
Question: One of the biggest criticisms of the season involved Brody's involvement with Walden's death, and the lack of surveillance and follow-up from the C.I.A. -- can you explain why his phonecalls were no longer being monitored?
Gansa: Brody had delivered to the CIA all the info he knew about Nazir and the impending attack. Indeed all his information is correct; all the network except for Nazir was all rolled up. The assumption of the CIA was that his role was done. There was nothing more he knew. They had mistakenly stopped monitoring his movements and his phones.
Question: And why wasn't Brody questioned about Walden's death?
Gansa: There were no marks on Walden's body – this is a man who was known to have a bad heart. He died of the heart attack. Brody was in the room [and] got to play a death scene with him but was completely innocent in the eyes of the world. Indeed [he] ran to call for help and the paramedics saw that he had a heart attack. If there had been any trace of foul play ... but there wasn't, [so] there was no need for an interrogation or a debrief.
Question: Dana Brody's hit-and-run storyline was also the subject of some fan ire. What were you going for with that?
Howard Gordon: There was a deeper plan for it that morphed halfway through the season. Really it was about Dana's degradation. It was about the emotional separation between Brody and Dana, which was such a strong part of last season. We always knew we wanted to erode that this year. It was [also] about a loss of innocence for this character we think is extraordinary.
Gansa: It was meant to not only deliver to Dana this lesson in how the world works, but it was also meant to characterize Walden as a villain in the piece. This was a man who was willing to subvert the law and not see justice come to pass and give a real sense of what he might be like as a president.
Homeland season one is now available on DVD and season two can be seen on Showtime on Demand.
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