PaleyFest is the highly anticipated annual television festival hosted by the Paley Center in Los Angeles, and its 2015 event kicked off on March 6th with a Homeland panel. The question-and-answer session featured star Claire Danes, supporting actor Maury Sterling (who plays the character Max), executive producers Meredith Stiehm, Chip Johannessen, Patrick Harbinson and Alexander Cary, director and executive producer Lesli Linka Glatter, and showrunner Alex Gansa.
Though the group made their best efforts to remain tight-lipped regarding plans for season five of the award-winning hit show, some snippets of information did slip through. Firstly, the action will be based largely in Europe, constituting a big shift in tone from season four, which filmed in South Africa as a stand-in for Pakistan.
Secondly, it was revealed that the season will be set a full two and half years after the end of season four – which creates the particularly intriguing situation of allowing the main players in that cliffhanger to have moved forward in different ways, with different motivations, agendas and allegiances. Thirdly, and perhaps most interestingly, Carrie Mathison “will no longer be an intelligence officer,” according to Alex Gansa.
In amongst questions about specific season four scenes – and specifically Claire Danes’ “crying face” – some difficult subjects were broached. With Homeland renowned for its hard-earned reputation as a show that does not flinch from depicting both sides of a terrorism story, the showrunner Alex Gansa was questioned as to whether the current global threat posed by ISIS would feature in the storyline – relevant, not least, because the actions of that organization were briefly referenced in at least one episode in season four.
“Do we give them a platform? I don’t know. It’s an interesting question… We’re one of the few shows that gets to really comment on current events. We take that responsibility very seriously.”
Homeland returns for a fifth season on Showtime later this year.