Carrie will have a lot of questions to answer as the show returns stateside for season 6
Episode 601

Homeland is still months away from returning, but Wednesday night at a For Your Consideration Emmy panel for the show, creator and showrunner Alex Gansa started to be reveal more details about the upcoming season. Gansa tells EW the story will return stateside and span throughout the period between Election Day and the inauguration of a new president. During the panel and through EW interviews with Homeland’s cast and creative team, we got some more season 6 tidbits, learned the effect real world events have on the show, and much more.

Carrie will have a lot of questions to answer in season 6

Last season’s finale saw Carrie stop a terrorist attack, get dumped by her boyfriend, get offered by Saul a chance to return to the CIA, get a proposal from her boss, and be on the verge of pulling the plug on her friend/love interest. That’s quite an hour for her, and with many of these issues still up in the air, there’s a lot for Gansa and crew to sort out for Carrie come next season.

“She’s got a couple of big questions on the table. The first one: is she going to marry Otto? Is she going to listen to Saul’s plea to come back to the intelligence agency? And what exactly happened with Peter Quinn? So these are big issues,” Gansa tells EW. “I think we move into the new season with a significant amount of momentum. As a result there’s some genuine curiosity about these questions, and I can tell you that Carrie is going to have a very different and singular journey this season than when she did when she was the station chief in Islamabad and when she was in Berlin, outside of the agency. The series is going to have a different feel this year, and it does every year, which is one of its strengths.”

Some people are definitely dead, while others not so much

The season 5 finale saw the loss of two possible series regulars in Alison and Quinn. One looked a lot more dead than the other, but considering that in the current landscape of TV it seems you never know if a character is dead even if he literally is dead, it’s best to ask to make sure.

Miranda Otto, who is moving on to a major role in Fox’s 24: Legacy, says her character is unfortunately gone. “Alison is dead,” she tells EW. “It was dark, but it was a lot of blood.”

Despite the fact that Quinn looked like a goner as Carrie was ready to pull the plug on him, Rupert Friend will be back. When asked what he could say about where we find Quinn when the show returns, he jokes, “I hope he enjoys eating through a tube.”

While none of the actors know too much about the season since they’ve yet to start shooting, Friend says that after the multiple near deaths of Quinn, he will be a changed man and that we’ll see a much more intimate and personal side to the mysterious character.

Gansa, the one person who could provide knowledge of Quinn’s story going forward, says to expect something different. “How Peter Quinn’s character is gonna be dramatized this year is going to surprise people, and it may not be what you think.”

Familiar faces will return

With the show back in the U.S. full time for the first time since season 2, it raises the question of whether past characters, including a certain family of a soldier-turned-terrorist, will be popping up.

“There will definitely be some cameos from characters from past seasons. Whether they are the Brody family I’m not going to say, but we are back in the United States,” Gansa teases. “It’s going to be Carrie’s first time back in the country for a long period of time in years and she’s going to have old acquaintances to reconnect with and establish a new life for herself, so we’re going to see some familiar faces.”

Credit: Kent Smith/Showtime

Real world events have and still do influence the show

Homeland‘s fifth season saw the show incorporating real world issues, such as ISIS and Edward Snowden, but the day before the show was set to film the attempted terrorist attack in Berlin, real tragedy struck in Paris.

“On that plane trip to Berlin the day after the Paris attacks when we filmed the big terrorist action sequence at the end of the season, it was scary, it was surreal,” Gansa reflects, “and I think everybody who was working on the show did some real soul searching in those last couple days of shooting those episodes because we were wondering, what message were we putting out into the world? What message should we be putting out into the world?”

Gansa says this issue is something the show is struggling with in its return to the United States this season, especially considering that in his annual sit-down with intelligence officers in Washington, D.C. he was told there are no Islamic or Al Qaeda cells in the U.S.

“I don’t know if that’s true or not, but listening to [these] intelligence people talk — maybe it’s not the case in the United States — we’re not facing the same level of threat that they are in Europe right now,” he says. “So you can tell I’m trying to figure it out myself, and certainly being on the ground in Berlin last year, while this was happening right next door and then seeing what happened in Brussels later, I feel that we have a certain responsibility to tell things as close to what we think the truth is.”

With the show being set in New York, Gansa says he didn’t want the karma that comes with doing the easy thing and having a big terrorist attack in the city that was devastated by 9/11. “As someone who is making entertainment, do you want to create something that doesn’t exist in this country?” he questions. “Do we want to build on the fear that everybody is thinking about? Especially with a presidential election going on now and people telling us that we are facing an existential threat.”

Carrie and Quinn’s relationship is still in question

Since the demise of Damian Lewis’ Nicholas Brody in season 3, Quinn has risen to greater prominence on the show and in Carrie’s life. The two almost made a commitment to be together at the end of season 4 before Quinn left for a covert mission and the end of season 5 saw him on the verge of death as Carrie reads a letter from him, where he confesses how much she means to him.

The two clearly share a damaged state of mind as a result of their personalities and their jobs, but what else brings them together? “First and foremost they recognize each other, and I think in the world that’s what we’re all hoping for, is that there’s another person out there that recognizes us,” Gansa tells EW. “Whether that means they’re compatible romantically, that’s another issue entirely. Quinn really put his life in her hands at the end of last season and we will see what decision she made, but that’s going to have repercussions moving forward for her and for that idea of Quinn as well.”

Friend told EW he believes the characters are drawn to each other “because they’re both very damaged people and I think that they have a similar attraction to high voltage, high adrenaline situations that tend to have an incredible benefit but more likely to have a very catastrophic end.”

Homeland provides unique opportunities for women in Hollywood

The conversation about gender politics in Hollywood, from equal pay to equal opportunity, has arguably never been more present than in the last year. Lesli Linka Glatter, an executive producer and director on Homeland, who for decades has consistently worked in TV, is glad more people have started paying attention.

“I think the fact that people are talking about it all the time now is fantastic,” she tells EW. “I don’t think that directing is easy for anyone, but it should not be more difficult for women. It should be an equal playing field.”

While progress has been made, the majority of shows on TV still seem to focus on men, many of which are allowed to be morally ambiguous, while the woman are left in supporting roles as the wife or mother. For the female stars of Homeland, though, that’s not the case.

Otto was glad to get the chance to play a woman who wasn’t reliant on her position in a man’s life. “I just enjoyed playing a woman who was so unemotionally driven,” the actress explains EW. “In so many female roles it’s all about having to be emotional about everything and I like that she was someone who led from her head not her heart at all, so that was fun to play.”

Meanwhile for five seasons Danes has had the opportunity to play Carrie, an emotionally charged and damaged character. When asked during the panel about the perceived notion that many viewers don’t like her character, she seemed to be fine with that and glad to have the opportunity to play such a role.

“I’ve never been preoccupied with catering to the audience in that respect. I’m not interested in creating a character who is affable,” the actress says. “I work really hard to be affable in my real life, I’m not going to bother in my pretend life. I love her because she is so much, she’s way too much, and I enjoy that about her. I want to play her predicament with as much conviction and compassion as possible, and I hope that moves people in lots of different directions, and I can’t control that nor do I wish to.”

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