December 15, 2013 7:06pm PT by Michael O'Connell
'Homeland' Finale Prompts Big Changes, On- and Offscreen
[Warning: Spoilers ahead from Sunday's season-three finale, "The Star"]
Homeland wrapped its third season on Sunday night -- and as rampant spoilers following a web leak implied, the Showtime series will be very different when it returns in 2014.
The writing has been on the wall for some time now, but Homeland finally dispatched the one character who's seemingly been doomed from the first episode. Nicholas Brody is no more. Half of the series' central duo, played by Emmy-winner Damian Lewis, was hanged in Tehran after the CIA gave him up for killing Iranian Revolutionary Guard leader Akbari (Houshang Touzie).
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Carrie (Claire Danes) tried to stop the execution, as did Saul (Mandy Patinkin), but the new CIA regime saw to it that Majid Javadi (Shaun Toub) would be in the best position to take over the nefarious group -- as was the plan from the beginning of the season. Carrie looked on as Brody died in front of a screaming crowd of hundreds.
The question of Brody's fate has been a point of contention on Homeland since the first season. Showtime entertainment president David Nevins and executive producers Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon have spoken about how the character's chemistry with Carrie dramatically changed the original plans for the series.
"The original conception was, 'Brody's the bad guy, and it's a one-season story for this tough chick in the CIA,' " Nevins told The Hollywood Reporter in a 2012 cover story. "We slowed it all down, making it a long evolution of an interesting relationship. We wanted to be sure that she was much more complicated and unreliable than just your traditional good guy; and that he was much more nuanced and reasoned and thoughtful than your usual bad guy."
No parties have been clear on when, if ever, Brody was originally scheduled to die -- but both of the first two season finales certainly offered an exit. The third season saw the actor play a very small role for the first eight episodes. He only appeared in the third, in something of a stand-alone episode, as a prisoner in a Caracas slum and on the lam.
Lewis, who starts filming the movie Queen of the Desert in March, is now a free agent. And for the actor's part, he seemed to be a fan of the parts of the season which largely excluded him. "You may never hear me say this again, but I didn’t miss me," Lewis told THR in October. "And I was kind of surprised. I think what was in [Brody's] place is so compelling and brilliant."
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He isn't the only one moving on from the series. Friday brought the expected news that Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor (who play Brody's wife and daughter, respectively) have been downgraded from regular status. The pair had been largely absent from the last half of the season, though Gansa made a point of highlighting them at the beginning.
"We really wanted to tell the aftermath of the bombing in a more personal way," Gansa told THR. "The relationship between Dana and her father is very strong. It's stronger than his relationship with Jessica and certainly stronger than his relationship with Chris [Jackson Pace]."
As for the Brody-free Homeland, the finale sets up a very different series for Carrie, Saul and company. The Javadi play worked, and the CIA source is now a leader in Iran. Saul is no longer with the CIA, enjoying the fruits of his labors from a distance after taking a job in the private sector. As for Carrie, seemingly determined to give up her baby, she has accepted a position with the CIA in Istanbul.
Carrie, now the undisputed anchor of the drama, lingered in the final moments of the episode to draw a star on the CIA memorial wall for her fallen love.