Taliban commander Haissam Haqqani (Numan Acar) and his terrorist thugs storm the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan with devastating consequences on “13 Hours in Islamabad,” Episode 410 of Showtime’s “Homeland.”
What Haqqani seeks and ultimately obtains are the embassy’s “crown jewels” -- the names of all undercover assets working on America’s behalf in the troubled region. By tracking down and executing those covert operatives, Haqqani and his ultra-violent jihadi network would rise to power in Afghanistan.
Bungling CIA Director Andrew Lockhart (Tracy Letts) has the top secret documents with him inside the embassy vault. But Lockhart’s resolve to protect the list weakens as he watches hostages get killed one after another on closed-circuit TV.
“Give it to me and no one else dies,” Haqqani promises as he holds a knife to the throat of CIA analyst Fara Sharazi (Nazanin Boniadi).
“I’m giving him what he wants,” Lockhart nervously announces.
“Open that door and we’re all dead,” warns Ambassador Martha Boyd (Laila Robins), “including the assets on that list!”
Lockhart fails to heed this sound advice, however, and surrenders the invaluable documents. Then Haqqani breaks his word about no more killing as he brutally stabs Fara and leaves her to die in the arms of Max (Maury Sterling), a CIA surveillance expert.
About the only hope for the embattled Americans are CIA black ops specialist Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) and Marine Sgt. Mullen (Anton Jeftha), who sneak up on Haqqani’s men and open fire. Haqqani is wounded in the exchange but manages to escape by setting off an explosive.
While this carnage unfolds, CIA station chief Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), former CIA leader Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) and a band of Marines are pinned down by snipers in another part of Islamabad.
“Send a platoon,” Carrie screams on her cellphone to Lt. Colonel Aasar Khan (Raza Jaffrey), counter-terrorism chief for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
But when Aasar starts to call in his troops, he’s stopped by Tasneem Qureshi (Nimrat Kaur), a high-ranking ISI officer and Taliban sympathizer.
“It can wait,” Tasneem insists. “The Americans have insinuated themselves long enough into our business. It’s time to get a dose of their own medicine.”
Now Aasar knows beyond a doubt that Tasneem has been secretly working with Haqqani.
“He’s a terrorist,” Aasar yells. “He’s killed dozens of my soldiers on the border!”
When help from Pakistani troops finally arrives, Carrie and Saul are driven back to the embassy -- now draped with a Taliban flag. Later, Carrie is pulled aside by Lockhart, who just received instructions from the White House.
“We’re getting out of Pakistan,” Lockhart says, due to this act of state-sponsored terrorism that left 36 embassy staff dead. What’s more, the president has severed diplomatic relations with Islamabad and ordered the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet into the Persian Gulf.
When Carrie relays this update to Peter, he’s in shocked disbelief that America would hand over Afghanistan to Haqqani “on a platter.”
“Our diplomatic immunity is gone, our networks are blown,” Carrie dejectedly points out. And if Haqqani is still in the capital, “he’s being protected by an army of ISI officers.”
Peter refuses to obey the evacuation order, however, and boldly captures Farhad Ghazi (Tamer Burjaq), an ISI hood who probably knows where Haqqani is hiding. Looks like Farhad is in for a gruesome, Jack Bauer-style interrogation.
As for Carrie, she receives permission from Lockhart to stay in Islamabad for five more days and attempt to retrieve Peter.
“Many, many Americans would be dead today if it wasn’t for him,” Carrie exclaims. “We can’t just leave him in the cold!”