The rumors are true: The first two episodes of "Homeland" Season 3 (premieres Sun., Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime) are, in fact, Brodyless.
But that's just the first two episodes. The Huffington Post caught up with star Damian Lewis to find out where Brody has been hiding since that whole CIA bombing incident at the end of Season 2, and he had a few very juicy teases about the whereabouts and mental state of his "cockroach"-like TV alter-ego.
Keep reading to hear about Brody's inevitable "devastating" reveal, the state of his family and Carrie since he's been gone and his take on the Season 2 haters -- plus the promise that Season 3 will be darker and more grown-up.
First question: Where the hell is Brody?
Where's Brody? I'm right here, babe! [Laughs.] Brody's on the run. He's an international man of mystery -- you've got to remember that. He's on the run. We'll get to Brody, and when we do, it'll be devastating.
You all know from Season 2 that the longer you wait to have Brody and Carrie reunited, the bigger the reunion needs to be.
Which means that since Brody is gone from the first two episodes entirely, the reveal is going to have to be huge.
Look, Brody has kind of passed from pillar to post, from one cell, one safehouse, to the next, as part of the escape procedure that they put in place for him. And Brody, when we see him, we don't know what kind of state he'll be in. Will Brody be living happily in a villa in the south of France, larging it up with a yacht and a bevy of Russian beauties? Or will he be imprisoned somewhere? Or will he be working on a plot against the CIA?
I think what happens to Brody and what emerges through this season is … thematically, it was always very strong in "Homeland" that Brody is a victim of war. He's a good representation of what happens when you send young men to war and what can happen to them over there. Obviously it's extrapolated for this, and it's taken to its Nth degree, but the logical conclusion is that a man can become poisoned and toxic as a result of an experience of war, and can infect everyone around them. That's kind of what we see from Brody this year.
And we've already seen bits of that for sure.
Yes, that's what we've been seeing from him for the first two seasons -- he's not a good influence, wherever he goes. Whether it's on homeland security and the political life in Washington; whether it's on his family life; whether it's on his romantic life with this other slightly unhinged, brilliant maverick person that he gets involved with … despite Brody being so damaged, Brody seems to survive, and a lot of people around him die. He's kind of got a cockroach quality to him. If the atomic bomb drops, Brody might just come scuttling out from under the rubble. It's going to be interesting to see what actually happens to Brody. But when you do meet him [this season], you'll find him in an interesting place. Not a healthy place.
Not a healthy place? Interesting. While we're not seeing Brody in these first two episodes, we're still hearing about him quite a bit, and seeing the aftermath of his disappearance on his family and on Carrie, who maintains that he had nothing to do with the bomb that blew up CIA headquarters …
Which she believes. But is it true, or is it just the deranged defense of a lover? This is "Homeland" -- everything is a double-edged sword.
He's so convincing -- to the point that we root for him even though he is, arguably, the enemy.
Well I think, certainly in the first season, he presented the threat. He was the central threat. Finally he stepped back from the edge, with the theme of that season, loosely, being that a real earthly human love is more powerful than an abstract ideology. That was what you were left with. He steps back from the edge because of a love for his daughter. Then in Season 2, it's complicated by a further plot where he seems to be wanting to help Carrie, but the guys get to him, then Carrie gets taken, then they manage to turn Brody and he seems to be working for the CIA. You thought, wow, he and Carrie are going to work this all out. And then, of course, that final episode the CIA blows up, and did he plant it?
This season, Brody necessarily has to go away, and he's on the run. And we do come to him -- we come to him very soon. But Brody has kind of entered the nine circles of hell. He is a man that's so damaged now by his experience, the last eight years of his life. From the moment he was brutally tortured, physically and psychologically by Abu Nazir, to a conversion to Islam, to coming back and having post-traumatic stress disorder and trying to reintegrate himself with his family, to falling in love with this woman who understands him better than the woman who's been with him most of his life, to his conflict about some sort of act motivated by personal revenge against his own country ... He is a very conflicted, very screwed up human being. I think you'll find in Season 3 that it gets too much for him. That's why I say you'll find him in an unhealthy place. But within Season 3, you'll also see some sort of recovery, and some sort of acts of penance. I'm not going to tell you what those are, but you'll see him somehow grow strong again …
What does strong Brody look like? Is strong Brody the one who wants to make his life right, or is strong Brody the guy who takes no prisoners and will snap your neck if you step out of line?
Well I would say, advocating for Brody, if he's in the stand -- I want Brody to be happy in whatever direction he chooses. As long as he is active, making decisions, strong, he's committed to an ideology, committed to a direction for himself and the people around him, that'll be good to see. Because for the last half of last season and the first half of this season, we experience a Brody who has become a tumbleweed. He's really being blown from one side to the next, and people are using him. He's not strong enough to resist. And there are so many extenuating circumstances -- emotional ones, not least his own family and his own daughter; the relationship he's trying to forge with her, unsuccessfully, and the niggling distraction of this compelling, beautiful, brilliant woman who seems to get him, and who he gets, which is Carrie. So there are a lot of distractions and Brody's very much lost his center. And you'll see that. That's played on even further in the opening half of Season 3. And you will, then, see him somehow pull his socks back up and get himself together.
He has to -- Carrie is crumbling again, his family is crumbling again. Although I'm fascinated by Dana's transformation since Brody has been gone. She has an amazing weight to carry in these first couple of episodes.
Reading it has been a trip -- it's great. Dana's story is very evocative of just how broken the Brody family is. She's rejected her father now. She's looked at, stared at, teased and bullied for having the last name that she has. She always defended her father, and it has become clear that her father lied to her, betrayed her and was never straight with her. That moment in Season 2 where he was a little more clear with her shows the immaturity in Brody. It shows his narcissism actually -- he shouldn't have dumped on her in that way. Truth is always better, but she wasn't ready to take it, and he sort of expected her to take it and handle it. It was an error of judgment and she doesn't bounce back from that.
People had issues with Season 2. Were you aware of that, and do you read critical and fan reactions?
Yeah, I read some stuff. I think they had problems with three or four episodes toward the end of the season, where there were plot jumps made in a slightly more rollercoaster-y kind of way. And because the first season had been so brilliantly taut, psychologically, it made Season 2 seem a little more cartoonish in places. But for my money, it was still never less than compelling and fabulous and interesting and brilliant. I thought it was great. "Homeland" has always worked from the premise that we're not here to give you a naturalist piece of drama. The very fact that the CIA are working on home turf as much as they're working means the whole thing is spurious anyway. So don't worry too much about that. As long as we commit to the story in a real and sincere way, we hope they can enjoy it.
So you think it's back on track for Season 3?
I think Season 3 is even more hard-boiled and dark and grown-up than Season 1 or 2. Those first two episodes, it really explores the mental health of the characters -- not just Carrie. It starts in a very dark place -- you start at a mental institution -- and it's got a very unforgiving, darker shade to it, I think. It's right back in the wheelhouse of those hard-boiled conspiracy thrillers. All the paranoia, the dark ops of the intelligence agencies are at play. I was really happy when I read the first two episodes.
"Homeland" Season 3 premieres Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.
What are you looking forward to most from the return of "Homeland"?