[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from Sunday's Season 3 finale of Homeland. Read at your own risk.
Sunday's Homeland finale was the end of an era.
Homeland finale: Was Carrie able to save Brody?
After successfully pulling off the near-impossible mission of killing Iranian military leader Danesh Akbari, Brody (Damian Lewis) seemed poised to cheat death once again and perhaps start a new life with Carrie (Claire Danes) and the baby she's been carrying. But the happy ending wasn't meant to be, and after new CIA Director Lockhart (Tracy Letts) turned Brody over to the Iranian Republican Guard in order to protect Javadi (Shaun Toub) as an American asset for the future, Brody was hanged in public while Carrie watched on in agony.
Although Brody's death certainly ties up many of the narrative threads that drove the Showtime drama's third season, the producers of the show now have virtually a blank canvas to work with in Season 4. Will Carrie actually take the job she was offered in Istanbul during the season-ending, four-month time jump? If she does, will she bring Brody's baby with her or will she give the child up for adoption? And what role will Saul (Mandy Patinkin) play now that he's moving into the private sector?
TVGuide.com chatted with executive producer Alex Gansa about plotting Brody's demise and what the lasting impact of Brody's death will be on Carrie. Plus: Get Gansa's (not quite fully formed) vision of the show's future.
You've said previously that Season 3 was carefully plotted from the beginning. So, you knew at the outset of this season that Brody would die?
Alex Gansa: It was one of the first decisions we made in the story room this year. Then, it just became a matter of figuring out the most dramatic way for this to happen.
Gansa: There was a sense, at least among the writers, that the story had really come to an end. The big idea was that Brody had started to view himself as a cockroach, as someone who is un-killable and who brought misery wherever he went. And once that dawned on Brody — and once he realized the idea of redemption was a bankrupt idea —one thing led to another. These were the bigger thematic ideas that were swirling around our decision to bring this particular chapter of Homeland to a close.In the finale, Brody bristled at the fact that what he was doing was for redemption, even though that's exactly how Carrie convinced him to join the mission. What changed?
Gansa: Brody is a character that is very susceptible to people directing him in one way or another. He's highly impressionable. He's a broken person. So, certain ideas swayed Brody to believe that redemption was possible for him. But actually committing the deed, he recognized how bankrupt [the idea] was. That was the journey that he took through Episode11 and the first half of 12.Then Brody learns Carrie is pregnant. Since he's swayed back and forth so much, does he really mean what he says to Carrie in that brief moment of hopefulness?
Gansa: I think he does. The idea that there is another life, that there is a child on the way, snaps him out of self-pity. Now, there's somebody else to think about. It's short-lived, of course. But in that moment, that real connection that exists between Carrie and Brody, they find it again.
Tell me about how you approached Brody and Carrie's last scenes together.
Gansa: We didn't want to be melodramatic. We didn't want them to fall into each other's arms and make love. We wanted it to feel more sophisticated and adult than that. I leave it to you guys to determine whether we were successful or not. But there was something restrained about Brody and Carrie together, and there was something brutal and unforgiving about the way he died. We didn't want it to get overly emotional. We wanted the power of the images to carry you through that sequence.
Homeland: How does Brody figure into Saul's master plan?
Given your desire to show how Brody's actions affected his family this season, why didn't you choose to show their reaction to his death?
Gansa: It felt like their response to Brody's death would have been very predictable. I don't believe Dana would have come very far from the emotions she had in the scene with her dad at the motel, and Jessica is so disgusted with her husband that I don't know that it would have had a huge impact. We did not feel it necessary to dramatize what felt like obvious reactions. The Brody family would never know and probably could not know that Brody was on a CIA mission at the time. So, they would just have witnessed the demise of this man who was part of their lives, but kept many, many secrets from them.
With all the "magic tricks" you pulled earlier this season, are you willing to state unequivocally that Brody is 100 percent dead?
Gansa: Brody is physically dead, undoubtedly. [But he's] spiritually alive in the fact that Carrie has a child.
Yet Carrie seems unsure about keeping that baby after it's born. Where do you see the show going next season? Given this finale, it seems you can go almost anywhere you want.
Gansa: I think that's true. However, what that is, I'm not sure and won't be sure for the next couple of months until we convene the story room again and start talking about this. There are ideas swirling around that you saw in the finale. Do we follow Carrie overseas and watch her do what she was trained to do as a case officer in a foreign capital somewhere? What to do with the baby? These are all open questions, and to say we know exactly where the story is going next year would not be truthful.
Will you look for a new male lead to fill the Brody void?
Gansa: I don't think anyone can replace Brody or replace Damian's primary importance on the show. I think that is all going to squarely land on Claire Danes' shoulders now. It's really her show, and where Peter Quinn fits into that, where Fara fits into that, and where Saul fits into that is going to be a process of discovery.
Gansa: Saul is definitely going to still be a regular character on the show. The Central Intelligence Agency does job out a lot of intelligence work to private contractors. So though Saul may not be sitting at a desk at Langley, there's nothing to say that he can't be doing work with Carrie or for the Central Intelligence Agency. He's going to be a big part of the show.Wherever Carrie lands, how much of an impact will Brody's death continue to have on her?
Gansa: It's a great question, and I think the challenge of the next season is going to be to delicately weigh that. At what point does she move on, if ever? Is she going to find some sort of emotional connection with another man, or is she going to subsume all of that into her career? These are all interesting questions. How significant is this relationship with Brody and is it one she can transcend?What did you think of the finale? Where do you think Carrie goes from here?(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS, Showtime's parent company.)