Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the Season 6 finale of “Homeland,” titled “America First.”
The season finale of “Homeland” was a chilling one — and though President-elect Elizabeth Keane (Elizabeth Marvel) did make it to the White House, a beloved character made the ultimate sacrifice to get her there.
Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) had cheated death once before on “Homeland,” but this time, there would be no saving him. Whether he knew it was a suicide mission driving a bulletproof car into a lineup of armed soldiers, Friend says Quinn always put the country first.
Here, Friend tells Variety about Carrie’s “sociopathic” tendencies, Quinn’s abusive past with Dar Adal, and what’s ahead for him.
How did you find out you were going to get killed off — again?
(Showrunner) Alex Gansa told me. He’s quite practiced at this. He’s had to kill off multiple characters over the years. I’ve been in the room when it’s happened. It happened to me last season when Alex said, that’s the end of you — and then had to call and say, actually it’s not. So this time, he had a wry smile: “Listen, I know you don’t necessarily believe me when I tell you Quinn is dead, but so far, he is.”
What was your reaction?
It’s bittersweet. For me it was a modicum for peace for someone who has been through so much and even though it wasn’t their design, could now finally rest. I felt that for him to continue would be almost a bit sadistic. I’m not really sure in what capacity that would make sense. It would be quite a cruel storyline. In a sense, I think his time had come. I had a slight of pre-sentience that his time had come up.
He died making the ultimate sacrifice, giving up his life for the president-elect.
There’s a debate as to whether when he exits the parking garage and he sees the only clear way off is blocked and the only way is past two dozen soldiers with automatic rifles and he’s calculating how many bullets the bulletproof windshield can take before it will give way. There is an ambiguity there as to whether he knows in that moment he knows for certain he can’t make it, or he’s gung-ho and he’ll make it as he always does. And it’s a surprise when he gets hit and he has to carry on. I think there is a sense of ambiguity about that.
What’s your take on it?
What’s his motivation? Is it an act of patriotism? Is he trying to save Carrie’s life, too?
In that moment I do think it’s an act of patriotism. The title “America First” pertains very much to that moment. You’ve got his life, Carrie’s life and the president-elect’s life and none of them matter more than the president’s, whether or not you agree with her politics. There is the act of protecting the office as opposed to the individual, which I think matters very much to Quinn. Honestly I think in the moment, if Carrie had not been Carrie but someone else lying on top of her, that would have been fine, too. It’s not about protecting what he believes in, it’s not about personal interest. Quinn this season about Quinn trying to say to Carrie, it’s bigger than one or two people and their feelings for one another. At least for him anyway.
Keane’s dark side emerges in the end. Would that bother him?
Quinn has had zero contact with this woman throughout the season. He doesn’t know anything about her. For a soldier, that’s irrelevant. You follow orders from above and you protect the higher officers, and that’s the highest office in the land. It’s a no-brainer. In terms of Carrie’s dark side, that’s absolutely exemplified in the penultimate episode of the season, when she seems to be unable to process that her selfishness and lack of accountability in waking up a man from a coma for answers that he may well not even have, endangering his life for answers he might not well even have. She doesn’t seem to be able to process her own responsibility in that. That strikes me bordering on sociopathic, if not psychopathic.
She didn’t even speak at his memorial…
As someone who got to be effectively at their own funeral, the guy didn’t even get a bottle of whiskey on his grave? A firework or two? I would have sung a song. Said a poem. The letter at the end of Season 5, I actually wrote that letter. It has this reference to when Brody died and she went and put a star on the wall. The point of being in the CIA is you’re supposed to be in public service so you don’t get recognized publicly. The end of that speech was, don’t put a star on the wall for me. Don’t say some dumb speech,. So I was interested in, this person who shared so many years, what do they do. He doesn’t want a star, he doesn’t want a speech, but he saved the life of the president: What do you want to say?
And yet what breaks her ultimately is the photo.
Seeing a picture of herself. (Laughs.)
Their relationship has been a complicated one; Lesli Linka Glatter said they were so similar.
There’s’s a major difference here and it’s come out in this last season. Quinn has the ability and desire to self-examine. To look at himself and say, Am I OK with the fact that I shoot people for a living? Am I OK with the fact that I live this empty connectionless, emotionless life? He questions himself. And tries to change and get out of these scenarios. And Carrie doesn’t necessarily have that ability. She looks at her behavior towards Quinn in Season 5 and makes it about her. Which is not an evolved soul. I do see a lot of differences on a moral code level between the two of them.
You were certainly put through your acting paces this season, given Quinn’s injuries from the stroke and chemical poisoning.
It was very grueling. I was determined not to cut any corners and serve this man. I hope in some way to draw some attention to an underserved demographic in the real world and in the stories of television. The actuality of a returning veteran. The actuality of chemical warfare and its aftermath. The actuality of PTSD which has only recently been acknowledged by the army as a condition. We send people away and they come back and they’re put to pasture. They’re 21, some of these boys and girls. They’re done in the eyes of society and that’s incredibly unfair. I’ve had a lot of response from people who work with veterans, all of whom are overjoyed that it’s being talked about and not in a sentimental or patronizing way. That was an important thing for me. The idea that Quinn had integrity and pride and dignity.
We also learned secrets about Quinn’s past relationship with Dar Adal.
I think there is definitely sexual abuse in Quinn’s past. I think Dar was certainly the orchestrator of using Quinn as a sexual pawn in order to store secrets, to turn agents, to secure assets. I think Dar himself may himself have tried the merchandise. I think as we see he’s kind of unapologetic about it. He’s the closest Quinn has ever had to a father figure, and we learn that that father figure was abusive sexually as well as psychologically and physically. Just makes me wish he had someone he could call his friend.
There are two more seasons ahead for “Homeland.” What would you like to see?
I guess I can watch it again. I haven’t been watching it since I’ve been on. I’m excited to see what they do. Maybe they’ll be bringing some new blood.
What’s next for you?
Next for me is the blissful unknown. I’m very happy to not have plans and to allow my curiosity to be spiked rather than be forced.
‘Homeland’ Star on Finale Death: ‘His Time Had Come Up’ (SPOILERS) – Variety