Am I reading in to this, or did Peter Quinn just reveal that he and Dar Adal have an actual sexual history? Or does this conversation from season six, episode seven of "Homeland" instead make a metaphorical allusion?
“What the hell is this? Feeling sorry for yourself?”
Expletive by way of a greeting.
“Because if you are, that would be a first. You grew up in a hard school. No time for self-pity. It’s the first thing about you that impressed.”
“Not the first thing.”
“Yeah, well. We’re all beautiful when we’re young, aren’t we?”
“[Expletive] dirty old man.”
“Fair enough. For the record, though, I never forced myself on anyone.”
Could this "forced myself on anyone" be a metaphor, as in "I never developed an assassin that didn't want the job," or is the sexual implication the correct read? Is there anything else in the show's history which might help to decide between the two readings?
It occurs to me that Quinn's "dirty old man" comment could be either:
- a direct reference to Dar Adal as a sexual predator (i.e. an ephebophile if a sexual relationship with Quinn happened when Quinn was under 18 - and IIRC Quinn was recruited at the age of 16) using his skills with psychological manipulation to include sexual relations.
- a metaphor alluding instead to Dar Adal as a non-sexual "corrupter of youth." Like in the sense of how in "300" King Leonidas refers to Athenians and philosophers as all "boy-lovers" - despite the actual historical fact of Spartan pederasty. In the movie the term is meant as an insult that Athenians are not manly men like the Spartans who procreate with buxom wives. Maybe that's too convoluted an example, but given Quinn's bitter tone (which is hard to read considering Quinn's brain injury) it seems odd that he would reference Dar Adal as a "dirty old man" if in fact Dar Adal's manipulations had included sex acts. Quinn's bitterness and his repartee with Dar Adal seem just as likely to indicate Quinn's resentment towards Dar Adal for taking advantage of an arguably vulnerable orphan at a young age and using paternalistic affections to gain trust as a foundation for further political and non-sexual manipulation.
- intentionally ambiguous.
Has there been anything in earlier shows/seasons which might shed some light on how to interpret this dialogue?
I am also thinking that if we read an actual interpretation that Dar Adal did in fact have sex with Quinn then it seems like a rather strong move on the part of the show creators to make Dar Adal even less appealing (even if he and Quinn had sex legally in the sense of after Quinn was 18).
I can see though how a head of the C.I.A. character that is also
- an ephebophile/sexual predator
- a manipulator of young, vulnerable recruits, and
- that this is known only to the audience (and one other character)
...could make for an effective commentary upon power and corruption (very Polanski-esque in the sense of how Roman Polanski "let the bad guys win" in Chinatown to show that corruption exists).
That said, it seems a little heavy handed even for the melodrama of Homeland which, imho, usually does a good job of creating conflicted, complicated characters. Since Dar Adal has thus far been portrayed as "master of spies" to the degree that he is even better at the power plays and subterfuge than Saul (and who doesn't love Saul - or any character Mandy Patinkin portrays?), perhaps the mere suggestion of sexual indiscretion is enough for aspersion to affect the audience?
Lastly, I suppose it could be that the ambiguity of interpretation is a comment by the show creators upon the difficulty of discerning valid information from mere speculation in light of allegation? Seems like that might be the intent given this seasons focus on the inability to ascertain reliable information upon which to conclude or deny a Korea/Iran nuclear collusion.