The returning drama premieres Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. on Showtime; exec producer Alex Gansa didn't want to reveal anything about season 3 of the hit thriller — but we have ways of making him talk

By Tim Stack
September 13, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT
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The second-season finale of Showtime’s Homeland saw the CIA’s offices bombed by terrorists, with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) blamed for the act and on the run to Canada — with an assist from Carrie (Claire Danes). Season 3 picks up two months later, with much still up in the air. Will Brody ever see Carrie — or his family — again? What role does Saul (Mandy Patinkin) have at the CIA now? Doesn’t everyone know you couldn’t Skype on a BlackBerry in 2012? EW interrogated exec producer Alex Gansa to get answers to our most urgent questions.

What’s the status of the CIA after the attack?
”Obviously there is a massive operation — not only the CIA, probably every intelligence agency in the world — trying to find the people responsible for committing the attack,” says Gansa. ”And first and foremost on the list of that manhunt is Brody himself. At the same time, the CIA finds itself under attack for its negligence in the days and weeks leading up to the bombing.” Meanwhile, Saul has been placed in charge and struggles with his new position. Says Gansa, ”It’s a lot easier to sit on the sidelines and criticize than it is to sit in the chair itself and to make the tough calls. It’s not a chair that he sits in easily at all. He’s very conflicted.”

Brody isn’t in the first two episodes — when will he pop back up?
”I can’t tell you,” hedges Gansa. ”But I can tell you that he will appear at some point.”

Will he and Carrie ever be in the same room again?
”It’s a very good question, and I’m going to have to plead the Fifth on that as well.”

What’s Carrie’s mental status at the start of season 3?
Let’s just say not all of her ducks are in a row. ”Carrie has decided, somewhat cavalierly, the fact that she was on her meds at the end of last season was the reason she didn’t see the [terrorist] plot,” explains the producer. ”So she has decided to go off those.”

Now that Abu Nazir has been killed, who, other than Brody, is the prime target for the CIA?
A terrorist nicknamed ”The Magician,” played by Iron Man‘s Shaun Toub. Says Gansa, ”His name is Majid Javadi. He’s the Iranian intelligence officer who basically ordered the attack [on the CIA headquarters] and who hired Nazir as a proxy to carry out the attack in retaliation for the strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

Even though Brody’s missing, will we still see his family?
Definitely. ”If you look at all the tragedies in the news — the Boston bombing, Sandy Hook, Columbine — what we found interesting is once the actual criminals are brought to justice, how does that event reverberate onto the [victims’] family and the families of those criminals, of those terrorists? That’s also what we’re trying to explore: How does the family cope in the aftermath?” In the premiere, for example, we’ll learn that Brody’s teenage daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor), attempted suicide.

Will anyone make the totally unrealistic decision to Skype on a BlackBerry, like Brody did with Nazir in season 2?
The backlash against that then-technically impossible plot point hit home with the producer. Adds Gansa with a laugh, ”I will definitively say that will never happen again.”

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