“13 Hours in Islamabad” is still and thick with silence in its final scenes, as the heroes we have been following accept their fates and move onward. Scribes Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon do a decent job cramming a lot of muted reactions into the shortened episode length. However, had there been more time dedicated to Carrie’s tearful call to Fara’s family, it could have shown Danes at her most vulnerable and mournful – a side that has been largely absent this season. (The shot of Saul quivering in the shower, as we finally get to see his pulpy skin and purple bruises, says all we need to know.)
Meanwhile, while the relationship between Dennis and Martha had been a largely spiteful affair, one wishes the writers could have expanded the time from when she hears her husband’s motive – to hang himself in his cell – to becoming an accomplice in it. Dennis thinks that since he will be outcasted due to his treasonous actions, the only good thing he can do is spare his family further shame. Nevertheless, it only takes a few minutes for her to reach the decision to hand over his belt, an expectation that is unreasonable for any couple to reach in such a scant period. The scribes should have given Martha more time to think about her feelings for her husband, even a disloyal and treasonous one, committing suicide.
With the exception of the rushed scenario with the Boyds described above, Homeland focuses on the aftermath with unnerving silence and patience. There is time to mourn, for the most part. The series does begin to ape its FOX predecessor by turning Peter Quinn into a Jack Bauer-like figure, sneaking out of the embassy without approval in an attempt to find the log and kill Haqqani with a vengeance. What “13 Hours in Islamabad” finally does is utilize Quinn’s field expertise. The previous nine episodes had been a letdown for fans of the character, since he was mostly delegated to subplots where he got little to do. Now, the writers can finally give him the agency and activity the character had been waiting for.
This hour of Homeland destroyed much of the progress the Americans were making this season, but in the process, it renewed faith in the drama’s nimble plotting and emotional heft that the series has had in its finest moments. Unfortunately, two of the best characters of this season – Fara and Redmond – are gone. (Although the latter is not confirmed dead, he is not mentioned past the opening moments, when he is unconscious in the convoy.) The two CIA directors, Saul and Lockhart, are in bitter sadness and without much in the way of answers or direction. And finally, the two rogues of the series are off the grid again. Carrie stays behind to give Quinn an ally, although he doesn’t know that she’s sticking around for him. (Everyone else is being evacuated, heading back to the United States.)
In the scene when Quinn is questioning Saul for any intel about Haqqani’s whereabouts, his high-pitched frustration could have been Carrie’s in any other episode. He is slowly turning into Carrie, an iconoclast who goes by his or her own rules. She is now turning into Quinn, trying to offer protection and keep the loose cannon in check. With this dynamic about to ignite the last two episodes, Homeland is as arresting as it has been in years. Hopefully, the last two hours in Islamabad are just as unpredictable and unflinching.