July 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM ET
"Homeland" may be hard to imagine without Emmy-winner Damian Lewis’ brooding Nicholas Brody, but it's going to be a reality this fall – at least for the first two episodes of season three.
Showtime revealed at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour on Monday that Brody will be among the missing when the series returns on Sept. 29. The character went into hiding at the end of last season after his taped confession of a planned attack on the vice president — which never happened — was released after the terrorist bombing at Langley.
“The decision to not have Brody in the first two episodes was strictly a function of the story,” explained Alex Gansa, "Homeland’s" executive producer. Much of the action for the third season opens in Washington, D.C., and, “Brody’s flight from America just made it impossible to include that story line in the first couple of episodes.”
“Brody’s on the lam,” confirmed Lewis, whose character escaped to Canada. “He’s disappeared into a network of a tunnel system ... he’s the most wanted criminal in the world at this point, so he has to lay low.”
So what state will Brody be in when viewers do see him? Lewis remained vague on that point by being both comical and cryptic with reporters. “Is he (on) a yacht off the Côte d’Azur surrounded by a bevy of Russian beauties – that was the pitch I plugged in – or is he lost? I hope that when you do see Brody for the first time, it will be ... interesting.”
Two episodes is a long time to go without seeing the fan favorite, which could potentially translate into an audience backlash.
“That’s completely out of our control,” Gansa said.
David Nevins, the president of entertainment for Showtime, isn't concerned. "He's the reigning Emmy winner for lead drama actor, he's popular, he's paid attention to," he said of Lewis Tuesday. "His character figures prominently in (the first two episodes). ... The ghost of Brody is very present."
Odds are good that viewers will stick with the popular series, which some say really arrived when it was lampooned on "Saturday Night Live" last fall. The skit featured host Anne Hathaway spoofing Claire Dane's bipolar CIA agent, Carrie Mathison.
“I’m friendly with Anne,” Emmy-winner Danes told TODAY.com. “I was in Toronto at the time with Hugh (Dancy, my husband), who was doing ‘Hannibal.’ I got a series of texts from Anne saying, ‘Hi, um, so I’m hosting 'SNL,' and I really hope we can still be friends.’ ”
Hathaway also sent Danes a preemptive bouquet of flowers to let her know in advance that she didn’t mean any harm by impersonating her. Still, Danes knew when the posies arrived that the "Homeland" spoof stood to be scathing.
“I tried to look (the scene) up on my computer, but being in Canada created (a connection) difficulty,” Danes said. “Then, I was like, 'I don’t need to look at that.' But it was all in good fun. I was very flattered. To be parodied on 'SNL’ means we are relevant. We’re cool enough to be made fun of.”
"Homeland" kicks off season three sans Brody on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 9 p.m. on Showtime.