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Inside Homeland

The epic TV show has already won awards, and promises to keep everyone on the edge of their seats in the second season this fall
Marshall Fine
From the Print Edition:
The Brains Behind Homeland, May/June 2012

(continued from page 4)

Johannessen adds, “A lot of the specifics didn’t come until we were writing the episodes, a lot of the big moments. But there were certain themes that were things we were going to get to—the question was how to get there. And we were trying to find a balance between the story of Brody’s (post-traumatic stress disorder) and the one about his plot against America.”

The question of Brody’s loyalty was up in the air until the end of the eighth episode—and the seventh episode (“The Weekend”) created a seismic plot shift, with Carrie and Brody going away for an initially intimate, eventually tense weekend, in which he figures out that she suspects him. But that episode—one of the season’s most compelling because it offered such a change of pace—was originally imagined as something very different.

“We always envisioned ‘The Weekend’ as more of an interrogation, with Carrie interrogating Brody in a safe house,” Gansa says. “Instead, it became a strange, romantic idyll in the woods.”

“I didn’t know they’d take the character to such extremes in the first season,” Danes says. “They just went balls-out. They pushed it to the very edge. They don’t play it safe and I’m in awe of that.”

Lewis knew that the central idea—that a U.S. Marine could be changed in the way that Brody is—was a crucial one to bring off.

“That a man can choose something that is so radically different from his own experience is a scary thought,” Lewis says. “Particularly a U.S. Marine—they represent everything that most of us in the West believe in. He undergoes an ideological change but it is an active choice, rather than simply being ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ who is brainwashed. It feels more dangerous that he actively would choose something like this.”

Even as they worked, the “Homeland” producers had no sense of how the show would be received. They were in the middle of shooting the fifth episode of the season when “Homeland” made its debut on Showtime, to blazingly positive reviews.

Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times wrote, “It’s the first telling of a post-9/11 story that is all the things it should be: politically resonant, emotionally wrenching and plain old thrilling to watch…‘Homeland’s lead performances are so good it’s almost unearthly, like a sky with two suns.”

The New York Times’ Alessandra Stanley called the show “well-made and gripping,” saying “it was almost impossible to resist.”

“The best new show of the fall debuts tonight,” Matt Zoller Seitz wrote on “It’s hard to oversell the excellence of this cast.”

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