“There comes a point where you’re no longer responsible.”
“I’m not there yet.”
This season of Homeland has seemed intent on exploring the ramifications of spy work, the consequences that can result from drone strikes and failed diplomacy and a rapidly increasing death toll. The effects we’ve seen have been mainly psychological, but in “13 Hours in Islamabad”, Haissam Haqqani and his men bring the physical pain by shooting up a building that’s all about diplomatic relations, taking and killing hostages, and obtaining a list of assets to murder. The CIA usually carries out its missions in secret, behind closed doors, but now, Haqqani is forcing his way in.
So, we once again see the show demonstrate the impossibility of choosing in certain situations, this time with Lockhart and the list of assets. No matter what he chooses, people are going to get hurt; people are going to die, and it’s something that he simply has to accept in this line of work. Lockhart ends up choosing to hand over the list of assets in exchange for the lives of the remaining hostages, but we see that this choice is the worse one of the two. Fara still dies, Haqqani escapes, and if not for Peter Quinn going all Jack Bauer on us, Lockhart would likely be dead as well.
This hostage sequence is all part of a well-constructed, well-directed, and riveting opening twenty minutes that takes us from Quinn in the tunnels to Boyd and Lockhart in the safe room to Saul and Carrie in the wreckage of the convoy. This is far from the show we saw in season one, but because it’s finally embracing that fact, we can simply sit back and enjoy the action.
The second half of the episode–in total, the episode was a mere ~42 minutes, sans opening credits and “previously on”–once again brings up the idea of ramifications, this time doing so through various character dynamics. In the aftermath of the attack, Carrie and Max sit on some steps and talk about Fara, and the latter expresses bitterness over how the former treated her. Carrie most certainly wasn’t responsible for her death, but all these characters are in some way complicit in the events leading up to it, and this season of Homeland continues to be a damning indictment of our foreign intelligence policies. In addition, we get some intriguing scenes between Martha and Dennis Boyd, and Laila Robins is wonderful throughout as she reacts to her husband’s appeal to let him kill himself. At the end of the episode, she looks on in disgust as her husband is driven away, and we see that he was unable to take his own life.
Most importantly, we get a shift in the dynamic between Carrie and Quinn. Whereas earlier in the season, it was Carrie who wanted to keep pounding away at her mission, this time, it’s Quinn. His restrained and brooding nature throughout the first 2/3 of the season has been replaced by a fiery passion, by a desire for justice, and when Carrie tells him that the U.S. is pulling out of Pakistan, he’s not having it. Carrie’s the one who’s tired of it all now, and she says that “for once, they’re right”. Quinn, however, has an entirely different notion of what’s right.
-Well, RIP, John Redmond. I kind of wanted to see more of his character, but I guess that’s not happening.
-It makes sense that Haqqani would want to kill Fara. After all, he sees her as a walking insult to his faith, to their faith.
-There will be quite a few people comparing this to 24. It’s definitely very similar, but I have two points to make: 1) 24 was dumb, but it was a very good show for a long time, and 2) These kinds of embassy attacks are not implausible because they’ve happened very recently. Of course, Quinn and his partner taking out everyone in their shootouts is straining plausibility, but let’s just go for the ride.
-The whole reason there’s a 60 second countdown is to allow people like Lockhart to reevaluate their decisions.
Terrorist: I have a human shield! Go ahead and try to shoot me!
Max: Gladly, asshole.
-Two more episodes left this year. I’m genuinely excited to see what goes down in the final two weeks of the season.
Photo credit: Showtime, Homeland