Homeland, Showtime’s freshman drama about bipolar CIA agent Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody, the former prisoner of war she suspects of being a terrorist and falls in love with anyway, starts its second season on Sunday at 10 PM. I caught up with the show’s creators, Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon, who collected Emmys for best drama writing and for best drama last weekend, at the Television Critics Association press tour in August to talk drone strikes, Carrie as assault survivor, Brody’s political future, and putting Islam on screen. This interview touches on the basic setup of the show’s second season, and has been edited for clarity and length.
I wanted to start out by asking one question that had been percolating in my mind since last season: were we meant to think that Carrie was sexually assaulted after she was pulled out of the prison in the first episode?
Alex: We didn’t explicitly want you to think that, but it was always a subject of our discussions: what exactly happened to her? And the possibility certainly was there. What made you think that?
I thought the transition in the pilot between that and the scene where she’s washing her genitals after that, there’s that sense of carried-over shame that was really interesting.
Alex: We talked about that. At one point we were going to show some of that period where she was being held, and we chose not to. It just felt at some point like it was beside the point at that time.
How much time has passed between the first season and the second.
Alex: Six months. Ish?
That’s a quick turnaround for Brody as a Congressman.
Howard: It’s sort of like, dog ears, six months in TV time. Some stories are better explained. The idea would be that he was appointed to that seat…Which is what happened last year [with former Congressman Anthony Weiner].
I also wanted to ask about the vice presidential storyline, where Brody learns that Walden is considering him for a spot on the ticket, because while it’s nice to have him close to the Vice President, it’s hard for me to believe he would pass even an initial vet.
Alex: Well, I mean, Sarah Palin passed a big vetting process. Look, the guy’s a national figure. He’s generally acknowledged to be a hero. He’ been demonstrated to be incredibly good when he gets up to speak.
Howard: And in the context of what we posit geopolitically, he’s especially valuable to Walden in terms of casting an image of strength and service.
Alex: But we also want to make it clear that he’s not the only choice out there. There are other, he’s being vetted among a number of vice presidential choices.
Howard: And he’s still a long shot.