When last we tuned into the electric first season of Showtime’s Homeland, Marine Sgt. and recovered POW Nicholas Brody (played by Damian Lewis) set out on a mission to avenge the drone strike that killed most wanted terrorist Abu Nazir’s young son Issa, with whom Brody grew close during captivity. Brody, however, at first failed, and then opted not to, pull the trigger on the suicide vest that would have killed Vice President Walden and his cabinet.
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Confronted about his inaction, Brody likely saved his own life by selling Nazir on the notion of exacting change by affecting United States foreign policy from the inside, as a soon-to-be-congressman. But as Season 2 opens tonight at 10/9c — with six months having passed, and after six Emmys landed on the acclaimed drama’s mantel — it becomes apparent that Nazir has grown impatient. In other words, the deal is off.
“That’s a good way of putting it,” showrunner Alex Gansa tells TVLine. “Brody and Nazir made this sort of pact with each other, that Brody would not actually be involved in any overt terrorists attacks…. That’s been the détente between them. And that’s where the season opens, as that détente begins to break down.” Echoes exec producer Howard Gordon, “Brody’s pitch to Abu Nazir may not have been enough.”
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CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), meanwhile, subjected herself to shock treatment therapy at the close of Season 1, when it became clear (to some, at least) that her bipolar condition was compromising her field work. But in a tragic case of irony, just as she began the memory-addling treatment, she realized that Brody, whom she avidly yet unsuccessfully investigated as a possible sleeper terrorist, had ties to Nazir’s fallen son.
Now, as Season 2 picks up, “Carrie has been the beneficiary of six months of professional psychiatric care, which she’s never had in her entire life, so we really find her in a state of equanimity that we haven’t seen before,” says Gansa. But does that portend to make her a better CIA agent, should she ever get her job back? Or did her manic mental state in fact make her the hyper-perceptive person she was? “That’s a question that were positing — does that the fact that she isn’t as crazy diminish her abilities?” Gansa confirms. “I think people are going to be surprised by where this show goes and how quickly it goes there.”
One thing working in Carrie’s favor, as she is pulled away from her new job teaching English to Arabic students for an off-book mission, is that her longtime mentor Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) still has her back. “Saul is always her biggest champion,” says Gordon, even though “he now knows something about her that he didn’t or didn’t want to know.” So as Carrie catches a hot lead in Nazir’s next terror plot — and especially as she makes a very questionable call in the course of working an asset in Beirut — her actions “put a lot of the onus on Saul in a way it didn’t before.”
As for some of the burning questions at hand as Season 2 arrives, neither Gansa nor Gordon are willing to part with intel. For example, we ask: Might Carrie’s sister, who was there at her hospital bedside, have heard her mention Issa’s name before undergoing electroshock treatment? “You’re going to have to wait and see,” Gansa hedges. And more critically, what about the missing memory card on which Brody left his now-moot confession, or the CIA mole who slipped a razor blade to the last surviving terrorist who held Brody captive? “Those are both addressed in their own way,” Gansa allows, “but they’re also addressed in their own time.”