After a two-year break, the Showtime drama returns for its eighth and final season in February, and as executive producer Alex Gansa revealed, the final 12 episodes of Carrie Mathison's journey wraps up by paralleling the very first season -- with her patriotism questioned, a la Nicholas Brody.
"That was very elegant storytelling. There's that perfect symmetry," Homeland star Claire Danes said Monday at the winter Television Critics Association press tour. "Psychically, it fuses Carrie with Brody in a way that felt right. And she is so clear about her patriotism. She can be challenged in every way but if her patriotism is questioned, I think that is probably the most profound insult she can imagine. That was also interesting to play and explore."
Gansa, who developed Homeland alongside executive producer Howard Gordon, noted that the final season is largely focused on providing "the real resolution of the prime story of Homeland, which is the relationship between... Saul... and... Carrie."
The final season of Homeland, filmed in Morocco for nine months and Los Angeles, finds Carrie (Danes) recovering from months of brutal confinement in a Russian gulag. Her body is healing, but her memory remains fractured -- which is a problem for Saul (Mandy Patinkin), now National Security Advisor to the newly ascendant President Warner (Beau Bridges).
The top priority of Warner’s young administration is an end to the “forever war” in Afghanistan, and Saul has been dispatched to engage the Taliban in peace negotiations. But Kabul teems with warlords and mercenaries, zealots and spies -- and Saul needs the relationships and expertise that only his protégé can provide. Against medical advice, Saul asks Carrie to walk with him into the lion’s den -- one last time.
"We are tying up a lot of loose ends in season four," Gansa promised. "Season eight is for the people who have stuck with the show all these years. They're going to get their rewards."
Danes reflected on her experience playing Carrie for nearly a decade, admitting that she doesn't think it'll hit her that Homeland is over until April, when they don't have to fly back to a new location for the next season.
"It's taxing and humbling, but I've been with this imagined person. I've been carrying her with me for almost a decade," Danes said. "I've been in this incredible company that is just so exquisitely talented and I just know how rare that combination is -- to be working with people I trust and admire so much and to always be working with material that always is challenging."
"I feel very conflicted," the actress confessed of the show ending. "This could continue... think of it like origami. I think it is providing a service that isn't being provided readily. I don't think that I agree that [Homeland] is just entertainment, there will be an absence. I will miss it personally. I think it will be missed."
Joining Danes, Patinkin and Bridges in the final season are Maury Sterling, Linus Roache, Costa Ronin, Nimrat Kaur, Numan Acar and Danes' real-husband, Hugh Dancy.
Watch the new final season trailer below.
Last April, Danes revealed that Homeland would be wrapping up after the eighth season during an appearance on The Howard Stern Show.
"Yeah, that's it," Danes said when Stern asked about rumors that the show was ending soon. "She's a lot, this Carrie freakin' Mathison. I'll be ready for a reprieve from that."
In March 2017, Danes expressed her hopes for Carrie in the final seasons of Homeland. "I'm always hoping for a little relief for Carrie," Danes said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "Lots of crying, lots of reasons to cry."
The four-time Golden Globe winner quipped that her dream scene would just be Carrie hanging out with her daughter, Frannie. "I would just like her to play Monopoly with Frannie," Danes said. "One game of Monopoly -- benign, easy chill. That's always my little wish for her is some domestic bliss."
Homelandreturns for its final season Sunday, Feb. 9 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime. The series finale is slated for April 26.
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