Homeland Homeland

Bye bye, Brody.

Once the creative team behind Homeland (finally) decided to kill off Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) in the Season 3 finale, they realized they could pretty much take the hit Showtime drama anywhere they wanted.

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"There's no question that we closed a big chapter of the show last season when we dispatched with Nicholas Brody, and there's no question that at the beginning of this year, we really sat down and realized that it was tabula rasa," co-creator and executive producer Alex Gansa

 tells TVGuide.com. "We have a really fantastic opportunity to take a couple of very significant characters and put them in an entirely new environment. There was something amazingly liberating about it and something that was terrifying about it as well. But clearly we viewed this season as a reset of sorts. The show was going to be fundamentally different than it's been in the past, for better or for worse."Based on early episodes, we think it's mostly for the better. Keep reading to see what sort of changes you can expect this season. Plus: See why Brody's not completely out of the picture just yet.1. The location. Although the show has taken detours to the Middle East before, most of the action has taken place in and around Washington, where Carrie (Claire Danes) and Saul (Mandy Patinkin) worked as CIA agents. This season, which is being shot in Capetown, South Africa, is set almost entirely in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where Carrie is working as a station chief. (Note: At the end of Season 3, Carrie was being sent to Istanbul. More on that in a bit.)2. Carrie's the boss. Although Carrie is often a reckless maverick, CIA Director Lockhart (Tracy Letts) has still entrusted her with a major post in Kabul as the new season begins. "I think you do have to remember that she and Saul pulled off an intelligence coup of the highest order," Gansa says. "They brought Iran to a negotiating table and they did it with a ruthlessness and effectivenessthat is heralded inside the agency. So, she has a big, big gold star in her personnel report and she was rewarded for what she did by getting a big-ass posting in the Middle East."

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The season premiere is titled "The Drone Queen," which refers to Carrie's new role leading drone strikes against terrorist threats in the border regions. Although Carrie excels in her new role, she (purposefully) has made very little time for a personal life. "She's super competent professionally and super cut-off personally," Gansa says. "In that duality is where she lives. She is somebody who is getting up in the morning and working just feverishly until the moment she goes to sleep as a way of avoiding and dealing with what's happened to her. She's completely bought into the mission at the expense of her humanity a little bit."3. Carrie's a (bad) mother. But Carrie is losing her humanity at exactly the wrong time. It's made clear that Carrie traded in her Istanbul assignment for the more dangerous posting in Kabul because the latter didn't allow her to bring along dependents. (The baby, which is a remarkable dead ringer for Brody, is being cared for by Carrie's sister stateside.)However, through the baby, Brody's spirit — and his impact on Carrie — lives on. "Carrie Mathison this season is somebody that's going to have to come to terms with her own grief for the loss of Brody and [is] going to 'fess up to her own culpability in sending to him to his death," Gansa says. "Those are two very important ideas that the Carrie Mathison we see in the first episode has not begun to deal with. And in a way, that baby is her emotional marker. That baby is the creature that reminds her of all that stuff, and that's why she's running so fast away from it."4. Quinn (Rupert Friend) isn't so trigger-happy anymore. Although Quinn is also stationed in the Middle East (he begins the season in Islamabad), he deliberately chose not to join Carrie's team. When a circumstance reunites the two, it becomes clear that Quinn doesn't want any part of Carrie's killing crusade. "He has decided not to pursue that line of work anymore and is trying to find his way back to himself," Gansa says.

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In fact, as we saw last season, Quinn may want out of the game altogether. Naturally, that causes a little bit of conflict between him and Carrie. "If anybody knows what it's like to do Carrie's job, it's Peter Quinn," Gansa says. "He was part of a highly secret targeted assassination program, and he was the guy on the ground who was taking human life. If anybody knows what that can do to your soul, it's Quinn. He is very concerned about what it's doing to Carrie, and he watches Carrie slipping away from herself and wants to prevent that from happening. There's very much a feeling this season that we are watching Carrie through Quinn's eyes, and that we are concerned for her because he's concerned for her."5. Saul is bored. After being forced out of the CIA despite his successful run as acting director, Saul is now working for a private security contractor. But he just can't seem to keep his mouth shut about what the government and military should be doing better during important meetings. (Things are also strained at home, as Saul resists Mira's desires to put down roots in New York.)  "Saul is a man who has been at the center of the action, a man whose opinion has always been solicited, somebody whose daily life is filled with purpose and adrenaline," Gansa says. "Now he finds himself on the periphery in the private sector and it's not a place that energizes him or charges him or makes him feel worthwhile. He really misses the action. Ultimately that kind of a character can get themselves into trouble wanting to get back in the game. But I think it's going to be difficult for him to resist."6. New faces. The Strain's Corey Stoll guest-stars as Sandy Bachman, the Islamabad station chief who supplies Carrie with intel on one of the most-wanted terrorist targets in the region. Laila Robins (In Treatment) plays the U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad, with whom Carrie will work closely after the strike on Sandy's target goes awry and dozens of civilians are also killed in the attack. Life of Pi star Suraj Sharma plays Aayan, a young med student who survives the attack. "One thing that really influenced the creation of that character was the power of social media right now in these areas," Gansa says. "The idea that this character would have documentary evidence of the tragedy that the CIA is disavowing was a fascinating idea to us."

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7. The case. Carrie's bungled mission makes headlines around the world when video footage Aayan captured just moments before the attacks ends up online. And when a second tragedy that we won't spoil changes the context of the whole chain of events, Carrie must figure out exactly what went wrong in the first place and why. Aayan's character becomes crucial to solving that puzzle, but will he want to help? "Are American drone strikes actually radicalizing people on the ground and are we were creating more enemies than we were killing?" Gansa says of the idea behind this season's major story arc. "What would it mean for this anonymous person to put this video online and then all of a sudden to become a public figure? That struck us as a very modern idea and something that was really worth exploring."Homeland's two-hour premiere airs Sunday at 9/8c on Showtime.

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