Homeland Postmortem: Show Boss Breaks Down the "Magic Trick" of Season 3
Homeland | Photo Credits: Kent Smith/Showtime
[WARNING: The following story contains major spoilers from Sunday's Homeland. Read at your own risk.]
"I was an amateur magician when I was a kid, and my favorite magic trick was always the one in which the magician convinces the audience that he's made a mistake," executive producer Alex Gansa tells TVGuide.com. That's what we were going for this season. [We wanted the audience thinking,] 'How are they going to dig themselves out of this hole? ... They're killing the series right in front our eyes!' And yet you lay down that final card, and you realize that the magician, the writers, have been one step ahead."
Sunday's episode revealed the writers' magic trick as Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) was mysteriously released from her psychiatric hold and allowed to go home. Carrie eventually learned that it wasn't the CIA that arranged her release, but the representatives of Majid Javadi (Sean Toub) — the same man Saul (Mandy Patinkin) has been chasing — who wants Carrie to share information about how the CIA is tracking him and his associates.
After Carrie does the unthinkable and tells Javadi's lawyer (Martin Donovan) she'll be a rat, Carrie sneaks her way to Saul's house. Once there, she reveals her plan to be a double agent, but the audience also learns that everything that's happened this season — Saul's testimony before the senate, Carrie's hospitalization — was a master plan to lure Javadi out!
But has the damage already been done to Saul and Carrie's relationship? And could viewers feel betrayed by this elaborate long con? TVGuide.com chatted with Gansa to answer all our burning questions. (Sorry, there's plenty more Dana ahead!)
Homeland boss on "quieter" Season 3: Carrie's questioning herself at every turn
In your mind, when did Carrie and Saul hatch this master plan?
Alex Gansa: I think they decided the very next day after the bomb went off. Carrie and Saul were culpable in what happened, and they were looking for some way to make good, to make it right, to get the guy who was ultimately responsible. They began to hatch the plan right then to figure out how to lure the bad guy of the season, Javadi, out of his anonymity in Iran.
So, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) don't know about this?
Gansa: For the first four episodes they were totally outside the circle. This was a ruse and a plot that was hatched just between Carrie and Saul.
There were a lot of machinations to this plot. Saul continued to pursue Javadi on his own, for example. Was that just to throw the audience off or was it a backup plan?
Gansa: One of the things that our intelligence officer consultants [told us] is that the most effective intelligence operations are 95 percent true. Carrie and Saul were largely to blame for what happened and [they knew] the CIA would be looking for a scapegoat to take the blame. How would they turn that into a silver lining? This was a huge gamble, and Carrie was asked to sacrifice a lot in that gamble. It's not a sure thing, so Saul was really playing all sides of the equation here. And you will see that he's got a Phase 2 of the operation in mind, which he is not sharing with Carrie. Saul is very much the puppeteer here. He's the maestro.