With “Homeland” now two episodes into Season 4, it’s time to address the elephant in the room: Peter Quinn is the best character on the show.
Claire Danes has and always will be the star of the Showtime drama as Carrie Mathison, and Damien Lewis had his time in the sun as Nicholas Brody. Even Mandy Patinkin has earned his due with his subdued but significant performance as Saul Berenson. But somewhere during Season 2 and 3, it became clear that Rupert Friend’s Peter Quinn was the most fascinating character on the series.
Friend’s performance in the first two episodes of Season 4 solidifies that claim. Danes delivers a great performance as Carrie struggles through her grief and postpartum depression, and she is deserving of the accolades that she will undoubtedly receive. But Quinn is heartbreaking as he tries to move on with a life that he has seemingly come to hate.
Quinn’s cracks shone through in the Season 3 finale when he tells Carrie he wants out and she won’t let him. When audiences first met Quinn in Season 2, he was a stone-cold killer who did whatever he had to do to complete his mission. But Carrie, unwittingly or otherwise, made him realize what was wrong with that. And in Season 4 as he sees her going down the same path he went down, he doesn’t know what to do.
It doesn’t help that Carrie is so self-absorbed that she won’t see the way Quinn is breaking. When he tells her that he’s not going back to Pakistan with her in Season 4, episode 2 “Trylon and Perisphere,” she does the same thing she did in the Season 3 finale: Tell him he can’t abandon her. Fortunately he finally says the words we’ve been waiting for someone to say to Carrie for a long time: “Here’s the thing: It’s not about you.”
Carrie might be “Homeland’s” heroine, but she’s a deeply flawed character in sometimes unrelatable ways — that’s part of her draw. Quinn is deeply flawed as well, but in a way that allows the audience in. We feel for Quinn when he can’t shake off seeing Sandy (Corey Stoll) killed in front of him, we feel for him as he sleeps with his chubby apartment manager, and we feel for him when the lines between work and real-life blur and he seriously injures two men at a diner over an insult.
Quinn is the best character on “Homeland” because somehow he turned from a sharp-edged secondary character to the person who makes audiences care for him more than anyone else. He is now the heart of “Homeland,” which is why so many people — including myself — are dying for him and Carrie to get together. But this is a political drama, not fan fiction. Carrie doesn’t deserve to be with Quinn, but we as viewers most certainly do.
What did you think of Quinn’s character arc in Season 4’s first two episodes?