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'Homeland' Premiere Post-Mortem: Creator Alex Gansa Says Carrie is 'Turned On' By Danger

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Oct 01, 2012 | 7:02am EDT

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Sunday night's Homeland premiere took no time to push us right back into the spying, running, and scheming that we've come to expect from the Emmy-winning Showtime drama. We found Carrie (Claire Danes) back in action my mid-episode; Brody weighing yet another question of loyalty to Nazir; Jessica and Dana on opposing sides of the Brody-is-a-Secret-Muslim issue. And while Mandy Patinkin's Saul didn't exactly "holla", he found himself in thick of the action, and we'll holla at that. 

Naturally, we want to get to the bottom of all this before we get immersed what's sure to be another intriguing season of television, so we spoke with the man who wrote the season premiere, co-creator Alex Gansa, about the lingering, important question on the minds of Homeland fans: what does it all mean?

For the first half of our discussion with Gansa about Emmy wins, politics, President Obama, and honoring foreign service members with respect, click here.

Hollywood.com: Where does Carrie’s fierce dedication come from? In this first episode, she’s emotionally distraught over what happened to her career, she thinks about it for a second and jumps back into it.

Gansa: Yeah, she can’t say no.

She likes to tell her family that it’s because of patriotism, but what else is going on there?

Well, her sister says as much. There is no doubt that Carrie absolutely gets high on the action. That’s her M.O. And it kind of what the whole first episode is about. It’s this woman who achieved a state of equanimity, whose country calls her to service. She’s reluctant to do it and then finds herself turned on.

What was it like writing the initial scenes wherein Carrie is almost this domestic goddess, working in the garden and grading papers and being very anti-Carrie?

In a crazy way, I wish we could have lived in the story longer, because it’s always interesting to see people who’ve made adjustments to their pathologies. And Carrie clearly has and she’s been the beneficiary of six months of professional psychiatric care for the first time in her life and it has arrived her at a place where she can actually kind of take a few deep breaths and enjoy the simpler things in life. Now, that’s not what her destiny is, but it was kind of lovely to see her in that environment. She can’t help but steal a look at the Internet to see what’s going on in the world, but I think she’s reconciled herself to a quieter life and that was kind of interesting to see for us.

Also, Brody is taking a bit of a different arc this season as well. Last year, he was trying to hide everything, but this year we see him come out right away and tell his wife that he’s a practicing Muslim and we see him toy with this idea of violence as a means of change versus communication as a means of change. How important will these discussions be this season?

Brody has existed in this sort of grace period – a detente with this Nazir. He made this bargain with Nazir at the end of the first season and ultimately he said look, “I’m not going to be a terrorist. I’m not going to kill people. I’m not going to endanger civilians, but I am going to try to change American policy from within.” That was the arrangement that they had with each other and in a way, our feeling in the story, was that Brody was being naïve [to think] that Nazir would ever agree to that on a long-term basis. And we see fairly quickly in the first couple of episodes that Nazir did not ultimately agree to that sort of soft bargain, but there’s a harder deal that he’s pressing and Brody’s caught in the middle and he has to decide what to do.

One of my favorite scenes from the episode was seeing Brody’s daughter talking back in class, is that something we’ll see more of this season? Dana being outspoken?

What we found so interesting about that scene – and it’s actually based on a kind of true life thing that happened to my brother when he went to school in England, and he watched some very ugly things being said in a classroom and he stood up and said the right thing in kind of a brave way – and Dana does that in this scene. We felt it was more of a one-off, sadly. I wish I could say that it wasn’t. It’s a bit of a one-off because her story takes us in a very unexpected direction this year, so she’s not chomping at the bit to defend Islam or to defend Arab countries in the Middle East because her father is Muslim, but I think her role in this episode is to point up the many misperceptions of the religion and of the Middle East and really how ignorant all of us are about what’s happening on the ground there. And it’s very complicated and complex; it goes back centuries upon centuries. And the fact that one of these kids doesn’t know that Iranians aren’t Arabs but they’re Persians is again, an interesting thing that she knows because she knows who her father is and she’s come to do some research on it and learn about things in a more deep way in most people.

And that’s a great contrast to the way Jessica reacts to Brody’s religion. Is that a journey we’ll be exploring this season? That American prejudice against Islam?

Oh absolutely. But again, you want to sort of detach from the polemic of it and get to the character part of it. And I think Jessica is a simple person who has more simple ideas about these things. For her, she’s resigned to all the negative things she hears about Islam and Muslims in general and for her, she’s afraid of it. And Dana is more nuanced in her understanding of what this means, which is not to say that there aren’t people who’ll take any religion and pervert it to their own end. Clearly, the fanatics at all sides of the spectrum do this, and Nazir is one of those fanatics, who uses their religion as an excuse to commit atrocities. Now, nobody is going to countenance that, or excuse that, or apologize for that. But Dana I think, has enough sophistication I think, to know that there are two separate questions being discussed.

Homeland airs at 10 PM ET, Sunday nights on Showtime.

Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler

[Photo Credit: Eric Charbonneau/Showtime]

More:

'Homeland' Season Premiere Recap: Carrie, Interrupted

'Homeland' Creator Alex Gansa on Emmys & Being Six Degrees From Obama

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