Spoilers for the Season 4 premiere of “Homeland,” “The Drone Queen,” are contained in this article.
The first episode of
“Homeland” Season 4 has aired, and jaws are surely on the floor after the shocking, jarring ending of “The Drone Queen.” Corey Stoll’s character Sandy Schaefer only managed to live to the end of one episode on the Showtime drama before his bad call meeting a source who seemingly turned on him led to his demise.
But it wasn’t just any demise. Instead, “Homeland” violated the laws of TV logic by having Sandy’s seemingly secure escape attempt thwarted by an angry mob. Typically when a car shows up to rescue someone from impending doom on a television show — in this case, the car was driven by Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) and Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) — the person is protected within the confines of the vehicle, but that wasn’t the case here.
Instead the car was attacked by Pakistani citizens furious about the drone strike Sandy ordered which hit a wedding, and Sandy was dragged out of the car and beaten to death while Carrie and Peter had to drive away and leave him behind. It was a horrifying, thrilling piece of television to watch, and one that successfully leaves the viewer shaken like Carrie and Quinn.
“Hats off to Lesli Glatter who shot that sequence; to Corey and Rupert and Claire, who did all their stunts in that car; to John Smith, who was our stunt coordinator on the ground in Cape Town,” showrunner Alex Gansa gushes in an interview with
Zap2it. “That scene was just rehearsed over and over again so you really got the sense of this mob outside that car, and the bubble of safety that you have for a minute until that membrane is broken and all of the sudden people are reaching into the car.”
To Gansa, the crowning achievement of the sequence was being able to fit so much fraught emotion into the scene without much dialogue in a very short period of time. “The moment of ‘Am I actually going to kill somebody now? Am I actually going to insight the crowd further, but at what point do I do that?’ At what point do you convince yourself that it’s going to be OK? All that stuff is playing in the car in that incredibly short space of time. I have to say, every time I watch it I get disturbed by it as well,” he says. “It really feels real.”
Gansa calls this type of moment “the worst nightmare for any intelligence officer or any State Department officer, any officer overseas caught in a situation like that. It’s the worst possible thing that could happen.” Viewers who are watching the first two episodes of Season 4 back-to-back during “Homeland’s” two-hour premiere will quickly see the way Sandy’s death and Quinn’s decision to start shooting at civilians affect Carrie and Quinn.
Though Season 4 was touted as Carrie’s season overseas, viewers will find that she rather quickly ends up back in the United States at Langley by episode 2, “Trylon and Perisphere.” Gansa teases: “As a result of the station chief being killed, Carrie and Quinn are recalled back to the United States to deal with the fallout of it, and that enables her to reconnect with her daughter and to sort of get back into the homeland.”
Though Stoll’s Sandy is short-lived — literally — on “Homeland,” it’s hard to not be impressed by the great work he did in his limited screentime. “Wasn’t his performance unbelievable?” says Gansa, praising Stoll. “He fills every moment. I mean, the guy, he’s incredible.”
“Homeland” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.
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