"Homeland" actors Claire Danes, Damian Lewis and Rupert Friend, as well executive producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, came to the Television Critics Summer 2013 press tour on Monday to talk about where the show is headed in Season 3.
We've got a liveblog of the half-hour panel below, so check that out for all things Carrie and Brody (and Saul!) and to whet your appetite, check out the first "Homeland" Season 3 teaser below:
Updates from the "Homeland" panel will arrive shortly.
The final scene between Brody and Carrie at the end of Season 2 is shown, and then we get a series of images from Season 2.
Warning: This liveblog will contain information about the early part of Season 3, so if you want to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now.
Spoiler alert: We do see Brody in the clip reel but he's got a shaved head. I won't say more so as to not spoil you.
Carrie is off her meds when the season begins, a situation Danes is asked about.
"Carrie is always sitting on her own personal ticking bomb," Danes says. "It's always an impossible dilemma because she is not great on her meds and even worse off them," but there's a "sweet spot" when she finds the balance between the two states.
"It's pretty bleak in the beginning. She's gone off her meds for all kinds of reasons ... it's always a little precarious," Danes says of her character's roller-coaster life.
What about Carrie's troubles -- or that of her spouse's fictional character -- invading her personal life? "There's just so much crazy on the screen that we're just tapped out and we're incredibly dull when we get home," she says of the roles she and her husband Hugh Dancy ("Hannibal") play on TV.
Carrie and Saul are on the outs when the season begins. How's that been going?
Danes says she misses her usual acting partners, but she said that Carrie and Saul still have a very strong bond, even if they are at odds when Season 3 arrives.
Carrie "does feel a certain level of betrayal, but Saul and Carrie share an enormous sense of guilt and responsibility of this bomb [at the CIA] and this loss. Even though they're estranged from each other, they are very deeply connected," Danes says. "They experience that loss in the way no way else has."
To realistically depict Brody's flight from America, the producers made the first part of the season relatively Brody-free.
(Yet another spoiler alert: Critics have seen the first two episodes and Brody is not in them).
"Whether there's a backlash [to the lack of Brody] is completely out of our control," Gansa says.
"Brody is on the lam, he's disappeared into a network" for those on the run, Lewis says. "He's the most wanted criminal in the world, so he has to lay low. I think when you do see Brody, what state will he be in? Is he swanning around a yacht on the Cote d'Azure with a bevy of Russsian beauties? Is he hidden away? Is he lost? When you do see him, I hope it will be interesting," he adds.
One of the themes of Season 3 is the cost of being an intelligence officer and what it does to people on that demanding career path.
"As a result of the attack last year, the CIA itself is on trial," Gansa said. Saul is in the director's chair, as acting CIA director. At this point, he's no longer on the sidelines and he has to make "some very uncharacteristic decisions that he's uncomfortable making." Some of those actions have a big impact on Carrie, he notes.
"A man who is loathe to make decisions is forced to make the biggest ones of his life" and those decisions may determine the futures of Carrie and the CIA, Gansa says. As a result, Saul is "fearful that he might be the last director of the CIA ... and that's what generates these different responses."
There's a sympathetic Muslim character in the first part of the season, and that was done consciously, Gansa says, partly for balance in portrayal of Middle Eastern characters, partly because they needed a character who could do financial analysis and also knew the key languages of the region.
"In the wake of the attack, the CIA is looking for Persian and Farsi speakers and this is the logical choice," Gansa says of the young new analyst who helps Saul's team.
Morgan Saylor, who plays Dana, is a bigger part of the show this year, and Lewis said she's a very instinctive and present acress.
The actress is "three years older now and the difference between 15 and 18 is a lot," Lewis says. And someone who's genuinely curious about what Brody's been through helps give the character a different place to go.
Many of the writers also have children around that age, as it happens, so their lives give them Dana material as well.
The upshot is, be prepared for a fair amount of Dana in the first two hours of the season.
The producers were asked whether the show is "in conversation" with the latter seasons of "24," but they said they didn't really think so, aside from some similar security concerns the characters share.
They were more influenced by the hearings that were held on Benghazi in the early part of the year, they said.
They're aware of the Season 2 critique regarding the show's believability and credibility, but they said they were not particularly influenced by them when they sat down to write Season 3.
Danes was very surprised that a quote about her career -- in which she talked about being out of work for a year after "Temple Grandin" -- has had such staying power among journalists she's talked to. "People really remember that one!" she marvels.
But there were a variety of reasons for the time off, including the fact that she so enjoyed playing Temple Grandin that other roles paled by comparison.
"There just weren't many roles like that ... I just didn't have patience for regular old stuff," Danes says. Ultimately, there just wasn't material that she liked around at that time, so she held out for something really good.
"To do a job for the sake of it is never really a good idea," Danes says. "People ask if I feel imprisoned by [the] contract with 'Homeland?' No!" She said she enjoys knowing that she'll have new challenges with the show and her character every year.
The show added two writers this year, and since they were obviously fans, Gansa and Gordon asked them if they thought it'd be a good idea to have a lot of the story line set in the Brody home, and ultimately all the writers decided it'd be a good idea.
Part of the motivation was events like Sandy Hook and other national tragedies, where families are put under a microscope as they're dealing with a personal tragedy.
The writers were interested in "how this would reverberate down onto these people. We made a choice to dramatize that" via the Brodys, Gansa says.
Lewis said he researched his role this season by keeping up on current events and reading the Koran.
"I have not become more of a political creature in doing the show," Danes says. She does have a stack of books by her bed on bipolar disorder and mental illness, and she does research online.
"I watch a lot of confessionals on YouTube [from people who] are often up late at night, and have a desire to talk and no one to talk to, and that's always very useful," she adds.
She notes that she did the bulk of her research on mental illness in the first season, and ultimately, it's the actors' job to "interpret the heavy lifting" done by the writers.
Danes was asked about the "SNL" sketch about the show.
"I'm friendly with Anne [Hathaway, who played 'Carrie' in the sketch], and I was in Toronto with Hugh, he was doing 'Hannibal.' And I got a series of texts from her -- [in a sing-songy voice], 'Hiiii! I hope we can still be friends!' And she sent me a big bouquet of flowers, and it was like, 'Oh shit!' I don't know if I want to watch it -- she's being way too nice about it," Danes says with a laugh.
Because she was in Canada, she couldn't get her computer to play the sketch (and it was not clear to me if Danes has ever seen the sketch at all). But she thought it was all in good fun, and when she heard "SNL" was parodying "Homeland," she thought "Oh boy, we're relevant! We're in the zeitgeist."
Is this a show that can go on for a very long time, the cast is asked?
The collective answer is something along the lines of, why not?
"Carrie becomes a hairdresser in Ohio, 17 years later," Danes jokes.
So could Brody have been involved in the bombing of the CIA? The producers are reminded that some people think he may have played a role in planning that attack.
"One of those people would be my wife," Gansa says. "I tell her he's not, but she disagrees."
Could there be a "Game of Thrones"-style bloodbath in Season 3, with major characters biting the dust?
Gordon: "No comment."
Lewis is asked about whether he thinks his character will be killed off this season, and he says that "these guys have been trying to kill me since the end of Season 1." He's gotten some "stays of execution" along the way, but ultimately, he just goes with the flow.
In his view, good storytellers must be "ruthless with story and ruthless with character," Lewis says. "I'm sure there will be more [deaths] -- it's the world the characters are set in."
And keeping surprises coming is "what they've done so well for the first two years," Lewis adds.
It emerges that Rupert Friend only got a phone this year. He also came out on stage wearing a plain white shirt, dark trousers and suspenders. So of course someone asks him, "Are you Amish?"
The entire panel collapses with laughter.
"That is by far the best question," Danes says. She asks Friend if this is his "rumspringa," and they break up even more.
And that's basically the end of the "Homeland" panel. No questions about the state of Saul's beard; you'll have to wait until the Sept. 29 Season 3 premiere to see how that is faring.