To say the forthcoming season of "Homeland" is a lesson in rebuilding would be as understated as Saul Berenson's beard.
The Showtime drama begins production on its fourth season next month in South Africa (which stands in for the Middle East), with the heavy task of re-focusing not only the premise of the show, but the driving motivation of its central character Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) following the death of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis).
"Every minute in the writers room has been one of head-banging and knee-shaking," Executive Producer Alex Gansa told The Times on Friday ahead of a TV Academy panel hosted by producers Fox 21.
The writers room for the upcoming season opened up in January, with Gansa working on the script of the first episode. "It's taking a long time." The new season finds Carrie as station chief in the Middle East.
He continued: "It's a tall order. We had a lot of long discussion about what the show could look like; how do we reconceive it, how do we reboot it, how do we cleanse our palate, how do we tell a new story with Carrie Mathison at the center that isn't sort of--well, isn't a two-lead show anymore. It's a single-lead show. There's an opportunity to tell an interesting story about a bipolar woman who is trained to be a case officer and to find out what that's like in a foreign capital."
Though some argued Brody's death should have come sooner in the show's run (e.g., at the end of Season 1), there are still others that hold out hope that he isn't truly gone, Gansa said during the panel.
"I got so many emails about a story in the press about a man in Iran who was hanged, but he actually was alive and his toes started wiggling in the morgue," Gansa told the crowd. He insisted the stroke of luck would not befall Brody.
"Truthfully, we've been trying to get rid of the guy since Season 1," Gansa teased. And they had considered a very different cause of death.
"Originally we thought Saul [Mandy Patinkin] was going to kill Brody," Gansa said. "But it became clear Claire's Carrie had to send her soulmate someplace he wasn't going to come back from."
Of course, the latter makes the case of Carrie's relationship with her baby all the more rife for storytelling.
"It will be really interesting to see her grieve the loss of Brody," Danes told the crowd. "And to find a way to connect with their progeny. That's an amazing conflict for an actor to wrestle with. I don't know what that will yield, but I find it very compelling. It's like postpartum times a gajillion. But we haven't seen many women [on TV] having difficulty accepting their children. It's not a cozy, romantic experience for her. And even though her circumstance is so exaggerated and so rare, I think that her lack of immediate connection will probably resonate with more women. It's a worthwile subject and not a commonly explored one."