Margaret Eby
October 06, 2014 11:54 am

If you’re a regular Homeland viewer, you’re familiar with the ups and downs of Carrie Mathison’s choices. Sometimes you want to high five her and sometimes you want to sit her down with a cup of hot tea and give her a serious talking to.

But for all her flaws, Carrie has never been as genuinely frightening as she was on the season four premiere, particularly in a moment (spoiler alert!) when she’s washing her baby girl, the child she had with her late lover Sergeant Nicholas Brody, and, for a moment, contemplates drowning her child. Mathison comes to her sense and snatches her daughter from the bath, but it’s one of the darkest scenes on a show that is not exactly all rainbows, bubbles, and unicorns. How did that scene go down? How did Showtime agree to it? Well, luckily, Homeland showrunner Alex Gansa has a couple answers.

“That scene, we spent five days in the editing room making that scene what it was,” Gansa told Entertainment Weekly“We tried to leave it in the mind of the audience—did she actually put that baby underwater or not? That’s left to the audience to decide. But it certainly is motivation for her to get out of the United States. She realizes she is a danger to her own child and cannot stay there.”

The scene, Gansa said, went through several versions before settling on the one that aired on Sunday. And the production team was worried about what the reaction would be to such a serious moment. “I think we’re all nervous about it. We certainly don’t want anybody to turn off to Carrie,” Gansa said. “I think it shows the extremity of her state. She’s in an extreme place emotionally and cut off from her grief, and it’s causing her to behave in ways that are upsetting to her.”

“Where we left it is in the eye of the beholder. Did she just contemplate it? Is it all in her head? Nevertheless, it terrified her, and I think Carrie’s response where she yanks the baby out of the bath we realize how terrified she was,” Gansa said.

It’s a scary moment. But does the bathroom scene make Carrie a terrible person? Gansa doesn’t think so.

“What she did at the end of last year, arguably sending the man she loved to his death, is something she’s having an incredibly difficult time facing,” Gansa said. “So she’s compartmentalizing her grief; compartmentalizing her culpability. That has left her in a place where she can no longer deal with her own child, which reminds her of that ever day. It’s also where she’s in a situation where she’s executing orders employing American power and doing it from the minute she gets up to the moment she’s gone to sleep and its had somewhat an anesthetizing effect on her. So I’m not sure she’s a terrible person—she’s carrying out orders, she’s killing bad guys, but as Quinn was quick to point out, it’s not particularly healthy.”

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