And lo, 'Homeland' season 3 has come to pass, bringing its three-act magic trick to a close with Sunday's "The Star," and finally delivering a long-awaited character death that paves the way for a major reinvention in season 4. Executive producer Alex Gansa made the rounds to confirm Carrie Mathison's season 4 shakeup, including which characters we might see again, and why season 3 finally took its roping plunge.

You're warned of spoilers up to 'Homeland' season 3 finale "The Star" from here on out, but at long last, it finally happened; Nicholas Brody, and by association, Damian Lewis' Emmy-winning time on the series, has come to an end. After being kept off screen for much of season 3, Brody finally fulfilled his ultimate mission to infiltrate Tehran and assassinate Iranian leader Akbari, though in the end, the CIA, Iranian security's newly -positioned leader Javadi (Shaun Toub) and - ultimately - Carrie accepted that Brody would face public execution for his crimes.

So, what ultimately took so long? Showrunner Alex Gansa made the rounds to reporters, acknowledging that while writers had faced pushback from Showtime in wanting to kill Brody off in the first and second seasons, the network ultimately agreed the character's shelf-life had come to and end, so long as he could be killed off in the right way. Says Gansa to EW:

The entire season was structured around this ending. Not specifically Brody being hung in the public square in Tehran, but we knew Brody wasn’t going to survive this season. His character has been such a huge part of the show. The title [of the finale] “The Star” had a few meanings, he was certainly one of the two stars of this show. And losing a character like that is painful. Damian Lewis is a phenomenal actor; Brody was such a central character. It was a very difficult decision and one we wanted to honor and not clutter with other things. That’s why you saw the last two episodes play out as they did.

Gansa also confirmed that while Morena Baccarin and Morgan Saylor won't return as series regulars in season 4, the position of the story (as well as Baccarin's real-life 8-month pregnancy) made it too difficult for the Brody family to return in any meaningful way. Not only would secrecy dictate the circumstances of Brody's mission be kept a secret, Gansa felt that Dana's ultimate goodbye with her father earlier in the season provided the best closure on their dynamic. Gansa wouldn't rule out appearances down the line, of course.

So, where next to go in season 4? No writing has yet taken place on the fourth season, which will understandably reboot the franchise and cast of characters a bit, though Mandy Patinkin's Saul Berenson has been confirmed to return, despite the character's entry into the private sector. So too is the door open for Rupert Friend's Quinn, or Nazanin Boniadi's Fara to maintain regular presences, as Carrie's new appointment in Istanbul dictates that she may at least partially choose her own team. Gansa couldn't yet confirm that 'Homeland' season 4 would pick up with Carrie in Istanbul, or if a time jump could bring the characters closer together, but one sentiment lights the way beyond "The Star":

If there's one idea that we're floating around that feels like we could get some purchase on, it's the idea of seeing Carrie do what she was trained to do -- and that is being a case officer in a foreign country. That feels like an interesting place to begin. But beyond that, we're in the enviable but terrifying position of starting again. (THR)

What say you? Was Brody's death long overdue, opening the door for a reboot in season 4, or should 'Homeland' have kept the character around for another season? Where and when would you like to see Carrie pick up when the Showtime drama returns in 2014? Give us your reaction to the season 3 finale below, and thoughts on the future to come!