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'Homeland': Duty, honor, country, Emmy

After winning TV’s highest honors last week, ‘Homeland’ is the most talked-about drama.

Carrie Mathison

Played by Claire Danes

When we first met her ...

As a CIA agent in Iraq, Carrie was told of an American POW who had been turned into an al-Qaeda sleeper agent. Suffering from bipolar disorder -- something she hid from nearly everyone -- she became obsessed with the recently released Nicholas Brody, who fit the description of the terrorist.

"There was that crescendo of mania at the very end [caused by Carrie's bipolar disorder], but throughout that first season, it was sort of simmering," Danes says of her character's condition. Though her illness complicated things, Danes believes the highly intelligent Carrie had "some suspicion that maybe her condition was responsible for her genius. I think that's probably true for a lot of people with the condition," she adds.

What's to come

After Carrie's condition was made public, the disgraced operative sought treatment through electroconvulsive therapy. Undergoing the procedure, which can cause memory loss, led to her being unable to recall key information she uncovered about Brody -- even after she is asked to return to duty.

"She's been outed as this person with this condition, and that has altered her in a pretty fundamental way," Danes says. "She's not hiding to the same extent, and she doesn't have that same kind of panic and defensiveness. And when we find her at the beginning of the second season, she's been very humbled, and she's really struggling with a real crisis of confidence. She gets her mojo back, but it takes some time."

Nicholas Brody

Played by Damian Lewis

When we first met him ...

Brody, a Marine sergeant who was held by al-Qaeda as a prisoner of war for eight years, returned to the U.S. a war hero. However, CIA operative Carrie Mathison suspected he had been "turned" by terrorists.

"In the first season, he was a man just trying to reenter civilian life," Lewis says. "There was a degree of damage which elicited some sympathy from the audience -- but at the same time he also was the menace. So people were terrified of him."

What's to come

Now a U.S. congressman, will Brody achieve his goal of destroying America from within?

"Brody made a mission statement at the end of the first season saying he wanted a nonviolent political subversion of American policy," Lewis says. "He would like to think he's in control of his own destiny. He absolutely won't be, is my prediction for this season. I think he will live in a state of heightened anxiety and paranoia."