Homeland fans with Showtime subscriptions have likely checked out the Season 6 premiere, in which a certain character’s fate is rather quickly revealed. Now, ahead of the official premiere, showrunners and stars explain why [SPOILER] is still kicking, and what it means for the series overall.

Now that you’re thoroughly prepped for spoilers, Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn will make his presence known fairly quickly into Season 6 premiere “Fair Game”; not exactly as we knew him, but significantly upgraded from the comatose state we left him in Season 5. Entertainment Weekly has a few more details of Quinn’s current locale, but why keep Quinn in such a challenging state, when Season 5 seemed poised to kill him?

According to showrunner Alex Gansa, the idea came out of a bit of necessity:

There was a moment toward the end of last season where I let [Friend] know there was a fairly decent chance he wasn’t going to survive. We probably thought he was going to die in the gas chamber. But as these things morph and change, as we got closer to that moment, we found a more interesting way to end it. We began filling in the blanks, and there was a need for a character for Quinn to interact with while he’s captured by the bad guys. And as that relationship between them developed, we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if this guy saved Quinn’s life?’ And that led to the whole idea of him not dying in that environment.

Moreover, Quinn’s condition in Season 6 will somewhat fill the void left by Brody (Damian Lewis), allowing the series to explore wounded soldiers:

One of the very first ideas [executive producer Howard Gordon] and I had when we talked about Homeland was there was no show on television dramatizing the return of our soldiers from Iraq and Afganistan. So now we really get to watch a true causality of the war on terror.

Adds Friend himself:

Homeland is doing something I don’t think any TV show has done before, where you have a character in season 6 and he’s basically unrecognizable from the previous seasons. Some will say, ‘But where’s my old friend?’ But that’s not the way the world works.

Guest stars in Season 6 include Jake Weber as Alt-Right media personality Brett O’Keefe, House of Cards star Elizabeth Marvel as the incoming President, along with Prison Break star Robert Knepper, The Flash star Patrick Sabongui and Hill Harper. The series is already renewed for Seasons 7 and 8.

In the meantime, you can check out the first Homeland Season 6 trailers below, and stay tuned for the January 15 premiere.

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