PaleyFest: 'Homeland' Plots a Location Shift, Time Jump and Changes for Carrie

Homeland S04E09 Still - H 2014
David Bloomer/SHOWTIME

Homeland S04E09 Still - H 2014

Homeland is shaking things up for its upcoming season.

The Showtime series -- which kicked off PaleyFest 2015 on Friday night -- will be moving to a new location, have a time jump and find its central character, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), in a new job.

"I think we're going to do a big time jump -- two, two-and-a-half years from where we ended season four," Homeland co-creator Alex Gansa told The Hollywood Reporter before the panel, noting they're planning to forgo flashbacks and jump straight into where the characters are now. "The story will be set in Germany, in Berlin…We have our fingers crossed we'll shoot in Berlin...[in that time Carrie will] be trying to come to terms with her life in the Central Intelligence Agency [and] dealing with what she felt at the very end of season four, which is disillusionment and disdain about it. So she'll actually be out of the agency."

"It's not her area of expertise; she's a Middle East expert," executive producer Meredith Stiehm pointed out to THR. "[Berlin is] a really interesting city because of its past, and its need to make up for its sins. And I think Carrie's going to be in that place because of last season and all she's done. She's going to feel the need to atone."

Carrie won't be the only one with the need to atone. At the end of season four, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), seemingly, accepted a deal that had him aligning with Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham)…and Dar Adal's "ally" Haqqani (Numan Acar). But Gansa pointed out during the panel that's the norm for people in that field of work: "This is exactly what the Intelligence Agency [does], this is exactly what America does: our enemies one day become our friends the next…it's hard to swallow, it's hard to accept."

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But that decision will impact Saul's relationship with Carrie. "[It's] difficult," Gansa teased to THR of where they stand when season five picks up.

"They seem to have not spoken for a long time," executive producer -- and soon-to-depart writer -- Chip Johannessen added. "That may be for a good reason."

One thing that will be an easier: Carrie's battle with accepting motherhood.

"She's embracing it. I think she's trying to make a significant and profound change in her life," Gansa shared.

"It's like she lost two fathers in a way: her professional father and her actual father," Stiehm said. "She's grown up. She's become less of the problem child, and is now [embracing her role] as a mother of a child; she's not conflicted about Frannie anymore, which I think is important…that's a new place for her."

That new place could also lead to a new kind of relationship for Carrie.

"I'm going to take the fifth on that one," Gansa said about any potential romance for Carrie in her new life. He also plead the fifth when it came to the status of her relationship with Quinn (Rupert Friend), noting, "Those are the big questions! I'd like to save those as a surprise."

Whether Quinn and Carrie turn romantic -- and the panelists acknowledged there was a "tremendous" amount of debate in the writers room about that -- Danes noted during the panel that she appreciated how the show handled the push-pull of the relationship in season four.

"It was handled really beautifully, really intelligently," she said. "It was always fun; that dynamic is always fun, because he's so similar to her, and she's so rarely challenged by another outlier. I thought it was very amusing how affronted she was by that, and threatened by that, and it exposed a vulnerability we don't normally see in her. And because they're so similar, they repel one another and attract one another, so that's always fun to play with. I think at the end of the season, they had been through such a harrowing, traumatic experience, and they were jettisoned back to civilian life, and they're really struggling."

"It's always very jarring and disorientating to be jettisoned back to civilian life, and there's just no one else they can feel comfortable with," Danes elaborated to reporters about the duo's bond pre-panel. "There's been probably some tension or chemistry or something, but I think they're just clinging to each other because they're displaced; psychically, emotionally, they're still back in Pakistan."

As the show sets out to craft season five -- the writers have been at work for over a month, and are currently breaking the second episode -- Gansa acknowledged to THR it's impossible to ignore the real-life events that are going on.

"Look at what's going on in the Middle East, look at what's going on in Syria and Iraq, look what's happening in the Ukraine," he said. "We'll be in Europe telling this story. It's all going to be part of the world she's in."

"There is a delicate balance, we try to be responsible," Showtime president David Nevins told THR. "It is a discussion, [including] the safety of the cast and crew. We try hard to be honest and truthful and represent complicated issues in a way that does no harm to the world, and that's an increasingly complicated thing to get done."

Twitter: @MarisaRoffman