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?

For a recap of the conversation:

“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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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    Are you in any doubt?
    – AakashM
    Mar 14, 2017 at 14:35
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    @AakashM yes, please see my edit. I honestly don't know how to read this.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 14, 2017 at 16:16
  • @AakashM, what does your question mean btw? Apr 3, 2017 at 3:23

3 Answers 3


I would hedge bets 30:70 on answers 2., and 3., respectively.

Negative argument by parsimony of "out-universe" factors:

My argument to support this revolves primarily around parsimony, considering "out-universe" constraints: Answer 1. would only be feasible by the script writers, if they intended that to lead up to a greater, downstream narrative for Dar Adal; a plot twist maybe? (doubt it.)

Positive argument by artistic character-building for Dar as a shrewd manipulator, and "out-universe" film referencing:

However, I also like the artistic angles in your arguments for explaining Answers 2. and 3., in their own right, mostly "in universe" reasoning, and a touch of "out universe" film referencing. But I would argue you are reading far too much into the sex analogy:

a metaphor alluding instead to Dar Adal as a non-sexual "corrupter of youth." ... "300" King Leonidas refers to ... 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. ...

Instead, simpler argument, I believe, is really just to prove to us, the audience, just how manipulative and shrewd Dar really is:

  1. modified: it is a strong relevant metaphor for the conversation between Peter and Dar at the time. Dar is using Peter's old ambitions to "re-inspire" him to work again with Dar: "Come on you loser, you were a different man once, just think back to your good ol' days, you still got it in you haven't you?"

He's clearly playing with Peter's ego, and getting him to start giving a damn like he used to! He's telling Peter to "man up". Simple.

And for 3., that is always a possibility: to get us -- the audience -- to discuss such matters (word of mouth marketing) and find the true answer, well done :)

  • @Mr.Kennedy: Not so sure about Doyle w/Sherlock tbh, but what I am sure about, is that if a writer was not doing such a thing as "taking inspiration" from the fanbase, then perhaps that fanbase will simply run elsewhere? Give em 80% of the stuff they already like, and 20% of new stuff: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareto_principle. But that 20% is not just the "author's mind", it's a mind shaped by their experience around them (the internet mostly) Mar 14, 2017 at 23:47
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    having watched the episode where Dar Adal tells Peter Quinn, "I love you" I am thinking that they did have an affair and not just a paternalistic affection.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 29, 2017 at 7:01
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    @Mr.Kennedy, actually I feel really stupid now... I actually thought you were talking about season 4 (when peter became an alcoholic, and Dar was trying to snap him out of that). I only just realised there was a season 6... you may have a point there buddy Apr 1, 2017 at 11:49

Am I reading in to this, or did Peter just reveal that he and Dar Adal have an actual sexual history?

No...that's exactly what is being stated here

  • Is there anything in previous episodes which indicates this or sets up the possibility? I still think it is ambiguous.
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:38
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    Nope...nothing beyond what we have seen. It may be ambiguous to you but a quick read of the internet since the episode shows that it's not really ambiguous to anyone else. I understand that Adal's sexuality was 'revealed' in one of the Homeland novels but that's about it.
    – Paulie_D
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:40
  • ah - I didn't even know there were Homeland novels, but that certainly would be a more concrete confirmation in favor of the "actual" reading - thanks! (parallel Homeland universes notwithstanding...)
    – MmmHmm
    Mar 14, 2017 at 20:42
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    While I agree with the actual conclusion, this answer needs more support beyond simply asserting your interpretation as fact. What, in the show or outside it (e.g. in interviews), supports this answer?
    – V2Blast
    Apr 27, 2018 at 7:34

I agree that it is highly possible that Dar Adal sexually abused Peter Quinn. The facts add up. Quinn was an underage orphan. Sexual manipulation tactics used on new recruits by recruiters (even done by other characters). The quote itself heavily implies that is what happened, but especially “Fair enough. For the record, though, I never forced myself on anyone.” You could expect that in an orphanage situation, it's possible Quinn had already been sexually abused, and that Dar Adal groomed him more easily because of that. (for example, if he had been sexually abused before, then he might consider this more normal, hence he would be more accepting of any advance on Dar Adal's behalf). I'm imagining that Stockholm Syndrome would play into this because Peter would naturally have to adapt to his environment by making good with his captor (recruiter). I say captor because what way out did he really have if he was convinced he had no other choice? If you reference the situation between Carrie and the young boy in Pakistan, you can see that the boy doesn't have much choice (and, even if he did have a choice, psychologically he was trapped by the fearful ideas imposed on him that he was convinced were true), which makes him more easily groomed and recruited

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