Credit: Steve Zak Photography/Getty Images
Episode 601

Though fans have to wait until the beginning of January for Homeland to return, Claire Danes and series executive producer and director Lesli Linka Glatter spent Tuesday evening teasing the upcoming sixth season of the drama.

Speaking at New York City’s Walter Reade Theatre during the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Women of Homeland event, Danes revealed that season 6 sees her character Carrie Mathison grappling with her troubled past as she approaches a semblance of normalcy in her personal life. “She’s stateside; she’s living with her daughter,” Danes tells EW. “This idea of atonement is still playing. She’s accrued a lot of guilt over the years and she’s still wrestling with that. She’s on her meds! She’s probably mentally capable.”

Struggling with her blood-stained past with the CIA, Carrie reached a breaking point in season 5, ultimately seeking solace everywhere from hospital chapels to Peter Quinn’s (would-be) deathbed. “I think [season 6] is more about deep-conscience diving rather than madness or preaching madness,” Danes says, suggesting Carrie is getting back to business. “I think it’s a lot about policy and politics and how the CIA participates in that, because it does take place in America. I think that’s the most relevant, exciting happening right now. It’s wild what’s occurring and it’s worth investigating, so that’s what we’ll be doing.”

Showrunner Alex Gansa previously confirmed season 6 would take place in the intermediary period when the outgoing commander-in-chief leaves office and his successor rises. Tuesday’s event revealed Homeland‘s next president will be a woman regardless of the outcome of the real presidential election in November.

As for the fate of Carrie’s on-again, off-again love interest Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) — whose life is left dangling in Carrie’s hands as he lay brain-damaged at the end of season 5, it has been confirmed that the actor will return for another season, but in what capacity remains a mystery. “We didn’t know [when we were filming], but now we know,” Danes said during a panel at the event. “We shot a couple of different versions [of the ending] just in case.”

The ending chosen for the season five finale reached an emotional peek when Quinn, in a voiceover, reads a letter he wrote for Carrie as she enters his hospital room to perform a mercy killing. “Rupert wrote that,” Danes shared. “He said, ‘I can’t talk about it; I just have to write it.’” Glatter added: “The first time he recorded [the voiceover]… literally, I burst into tears… I didn’t expect it. This guy who never says anything, says everything in such a poetic way.”

Read on for EW’s discussion with Danes and Glatter.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: As a huge fan of the show, I’m crushed that we have to wait until 2017 for this new season. What’s going to make this season worth the wait?

CLAIRE DANES: I know not that much about it. The writers are scheming and dreaming. We’ve gotten a few outlines. We have a general sense of where it’s going. It takes place during that intermediary phase where the president has been elected but has yet to assume the position of president. It’s that in-between moment that is not typically focused on, so it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like.

Can you shine any light on that dynamic? Will the ingoing and outgoing presidents bear any resemblance to the current ingoing and outgoing leadership in the country?

DANES: I definitely think so, yes! In keeping with the tradition of the show, there will be striking parallels between what’s happening politically [in reality] and what’s happening in our world of make believe.

LESLI LINKA GLATTER: Every season before the writers go into the room, we do a trip to D.C. where we meet with a boatload of intelligence experts literally from 9 in the morning to 9 at night… A lot of the issues are what the season ends up being about. Not just the presidential election, but also everything that’s going on globally. It’s thrilling to see what they’re coming up with out of those meetings.

Since season 3, you typically direct the first and last episodes of the season. Will you be doing the same with the upcoming season?

GLATTER: No! We’re going to shake it up a little bit. Keith Gordon, who always directs for us, [will direct the premiere]. He’s a wonderful director. Because of what’s going on in the first four episodes, we made a choice that it was better to have Keith start, then I’m doing episodes 3 and 4, and you don’t really want to know why.

Where do you see Carrie emotionally as we leave season 5 and head into the next chapter?

DANES: She’s pretty ravaged, you know, by the end. She’s been through yet another ring of hell, so I think she always, in the beginning of the season, seems in the mood to stabilize, and then her calling disrupts that, so I think it’ll be more of that.

GLATTER: We got to see her happy for about five minutes last season. She was actually having a normal life!

Since we’re here celebrating the women of Homeland, Lesli, as a director and executive producer, do you approach the show with it specifically in mind that you’re going to create a space for these amazing female characters to thrive?

GLATTER: I’m certainly aware that besides getting to work with [Danes], who has made me more fearless as a director, to be dealing with a character as complicated and layered as Carrie Mathison is eternally thrilling for me because there’s so much to dig into. In fact, last year Miranda Otto’s character [Allison Carr]…

DANES: And Nina [Hoss]’s character [Astrid], and Sarah [Sokolovic]’s character [Laura Sutton]…

GLATTER: We have interesting, weird, complicated, layered women in the show. And that’s fantastic. The men are, too — but the women, because we’re not used to seeing that…

DANES: It seems more notable.

So how do you see these characters and this show evolving and adapting into the future, beyond what you have mapped out for season 6?

GLATTER: I think one of the reasons, directorially, is that we recreate the show every year. It’s never the same show. For me, if we were both going back to the same hospital set, year and year again, that would be different, but we blow it apart every year. It’s a new show, it’s a new crew, and it’s new content. I feel like I’m always on the edge of my seat.

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