Episodic Walkthrough of Netflix’s Brilliant Show The Diplomat. I will admit, I am something of a political thriller aficionado. I love the intrigue, the chess moves, the amped-up political backstabbing… it’s all 100% unrealistic (says a guy who worked on the Hill once, and the most exciting thing I remember was when the Senate Cafeteria upgraded the coffee machine…), and yet it’s 100% fire. I love every minute of it. I’ve probably watched West Wing front to back 3 or 4 times. Fast-talking Sorkin dramas are my jam! Which is why, when Netflix dropped The Diplomat, I was all in. So today, we are going to talk through the ins and outs of the entire season. Let’s see if we can figure out the numerous threads going on in this show – and better yet, let’s see if we can figure out the last 10 minutes of The Diplomat Season 1!
Episodic Walkthrough of Netflix’s Brilliant Show The Diplomat
Episode 1: The Cinderella Thing
Forty-one British soldiers are killed among a tense backdrop of diplomatic tensions between the United States and Iran, when a British aircraft carrier was attacked in the Persian Gulf. Kate Wyler (Keri Russell), who is more accustomed to working on the ground in the Middle East, begrudgingly accepts a reassignment as the US ambassador to the UK at the request of the President Rayburn, and Chief of Staff, Billie Appiah. Odd, what are they up to? Upon arriving in London with her diplomat husband Hal, Kate meets the deputy chief of mission, Stuart Heyford, and CIA station chief, Eidra Park, who wonder what just happened to them.
Unbeknownst to Kate, Heyford has been instructed by Appiah to monitor her for a potential nomination as US Vice President. During her stay, Kate runs into Foreign Secretary Austin Dennison and Prime Minister Nicol Trowbridge, who share concerns over Rayburn’s aggressive approach towards Iran. Kate discovers that Hal arranged the meeting and, in response, urges Secretary of State Miguel Ganon to delay Rayburn’s planned remarks. Meanwhile, the US mission learns that an Iranian military boat was seen near the carrier around the time of the attack. See! The Iranians did it! Despite learning that Ganon is attempting to have her fired, Kate agrees to a magazine feature to raise her public profile. However, as the episode comes to a close, Hal is drugged and taken away.
Episode 2: Don’t Call it Kidnapping
Is Hal going to be tortured, drawn and quartered? No, nothing as savage as all that. Soon, Hal is met by Rasoul Shahin, the deputy foreign minister of Iran, who is mortified by his treatment, assures him that Iran did not carry out the attack on the British aircraft carrier. Because what else says innocence better than an abduction? Regardless, Shahin reveals that a planned retaliatory assassination of a retired US general had to be cancelled to prevent a diplomatic escalation. After his release, Hal informs Eidra about the encounter, while Kate attends a memorial service for the fallen sailors. At the event, a comment by Prime Minister Trowbridge to a grieving widow that he would “rain hellfire” on Iran if they were found responsible goes viral, further heightening tensions.
Following a vehicle-ramming attack on a Muslim family, Eidra decides to share some of Hal’s information with the CIA before it is fully confirmed, a move that Kate is hesitant to support. Meanwhile, President Rayburn plans a surprise visit to London to meet Trowbridge, despite Kate’s objections. She later discovers that Hal had informed Shahin of his presence in London through a mutual contact in Italy. While awaiting for the President’s touch down in Marine 1, Kate tells Hal to leave her – that they should get a divorce. But instead of leaving her, he tells her that she is being considered as a replacement for the Vice Presidency. Leaving her agog.
Episode 3: Lambs in the Dark
Kate tells Rayburn that they do not believe that Iran was behind the attack. And she also tells him that Hal was her source. She then arranges a lunch between Rayburn and Trowbridge with the help of Dennison, hoping to persuade the president to reconsider his hostile stance towards Iran. Meanwhile, Eidra learns from Kate that Hal had already contacted Shahin about the attack. Despite Rayburn’s plan to send a carrier group to assist the British carrier, Kate discovers from Dennison that Trowbridge misled the Americans about the carrier’s condition to provoke their intervention. While discussing the possibility of the vice presidency with Appiah, Kate becomes more receptive to the idea. However, when she finds out that Hal mentioned her name to salvage their marriage, Kate confronts him. Although Kate successfully convinces Rayburn to postpone the deployment of the carrier group, she also attempts to resign as ambassador and decline the vice presidency offer. Rayburn refuses to accept her resignation, and Billie appears to ignore her request.
Episode 4: He Bought a Hat
Kate, Heyford, and Eidra collaborate on a clever back-channel plan to covertly signal Iranian intelligence, requesting information on the carrier attack. Meanwhile, Kate attends a gala where Trowbridge unexpectedly appears and publicly announces Rayburn’s reversal, causing a strain in US-UK relations. Iran responds, and Kate has Dennison call for a meeting with the Iranian ambassador, while she secretly makes her way to the meeting location. Heyford discloses to Kate that he was once a campaign manager alongside Appiah but later became disillusioned and joined the Foreign Service to escape Washington, D.C. The Iranian ambassador provides the name of Roman Lenkov, the head of a Russian mercenary group that seemingly orchestrated and funded the attack, but subsequently collapses and dies. During a debriefing session, Dennison accidentally spills a drink on Kate’s blouse and awkwardly tries to clean it off before stopping. Later, Kate goes home and sleeps with Hal… which should be see as the biggest diplomatic win of the season so far, but alas… it wasn’t. Because… I mean, you know, Dennison.
Episode 5: The Dog Catcher
Kate, Hal, and Heyford attend a meeting at Chevening, Dennison’s country house, to develop a strategy regarding Iran and Russia. However, Trowbridge unexpectedly joins the meeting and insists on a more aggressive response towards Russia, even suggesting military action despite the risks of a nuclear retaliation. The group proposes a list of sanctions, but Trowbridge remains adamant. Hal spends time with Cecilia, Dennison’s sister, and they share a kiss after skinny-dipping in a pond, which Hal later confesses to Kate. Later, it is revealed that the Iranian ambassador’s death was due to a heart attack, clearing any suspicion from Kate and Dennison. Kate stuns the group by presenting Trowbridge with a list of Russian targets.
Episode 6: Some Lusty Tornado
Kate’s surprising move throws the meeting off track, causing Dennison to lose faith in her. Later, Hal takes Kate on a kitchen raid, where they run into Trowbridge and have a meal together. Kate persuades Trowbridge to consider diplomatic responses. Throughout the night, Kate, Dennison, and their teams develop a set of sanctions on Russian oligarchs, but Trowbridge pushes for military action in Syria. Meanwhile, Dennison accidentally confess his feelings for her. Kate discovers that Trowbridge is in contact with Roylin, who manipulated Trowbridge’s election as prime minister, hurting Dennison’s prospects. All the while, Eidra is unable to identify the person in the Russian government responsible for the attack. But, with Cecilia’s help, Kate talks to Roylin, who recommends bombing Lenkov fighters in Libya. Trowbridge agrees, but Ganon opposes the idea. Hal convinces Kate to remove Ganon from the equation.
Episode 7: Keep Your Enemies Closer
During a meetup with the Russian Ambassador, she’s slipped a note to go out the back stairs in order to receive a notification of Lenkov’s location in a few weeks time. After which, Hal informs her that Rayburn plans to fire Ganon. And, in a completely useless trip, Kate rushes back to Washington, D.C. to deliver the information to Rayburn in the Oval Office. But Ganon drives over her with a Mack truck. Eventually, Rayburn approves a joint operation with the British to capture Lenkov. Later, a colleague informs Kate that the situation in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she previously served as an ambassador, has worsened, causing her to question her life’s work as a massive failure. Back in London, Trowbridge expresses his frustration with the failed Libya plan and believes that merely arresting Lenkov is insufficient.
Episode 8: The James Bond Clause
Kate learns from Dennison that Trowbridge supports the operation to arrest Lenkov, and Heyford informs Eidra about Kate’s potential nomination as vice president. Upset at the thought of Heyford using Kate for his own gain, Eidra asks him to leave. Kate travels to Paris with Dennison to secure French permission for the Lenkov raid, while Hal gives a speech at Chatham House that is seen as a wild success. After which, he meets Conservative MP Merritt Grove who asks for a later meet up with Hal. Kate discovers Hal’s desire for the role of secretary of state and forbids him from contacting Grove, instructing Heyford to intervene. The French government eventually gives permission for the operation, but Kate discovers that Lenkov will be killed, not arrested. As all the pieces come hurtling towards the end and collision warnings are ringing throughout the show… Kate and Dennison begin to suspect Trowbridge hired Lenkov. As Hal and Heyford head toward the meetup with Grove, a car bomb explodes, obviously killing Grove and possibly injuring others standing nearby. And as the show comes to its conclusion, Police arrive to assist Kate and Dennison, and during the credits, a British soldier fails to receive a response while trying to radio his superiors.
And voila! Season one is a wrap. But what the heck happened there at the end? What does it all mean?
The Ending of The Diplomat Season 1 Explained
There are a lot of questions, and a lot of swirl that is created within season 1 of the diplomat. But, the only question that really matters, the single question that should be on your mind is this: Who attacked the British aircraft carrier? Nothing else matters. And as the show progresses, we go from suspecting Iran, to suspecting Russia, to suspecting Lenkov as an operator for an unknown nation state. Correct? You tracked all that? So, here’s the question – who paid Lenkov?
Well, if you stop here for a second, and think back through who it was that was desperate to bombs away throughout the entire show, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly. Yeah, that’s right, Trowbridge, the UK Prime Minister was the one that seemed to be desperate for blood throughout the course of the show. At first, he was interested in attacking Iran. Then Russia. And then, when it was clear that all he was going to get was Lenkov, he sent the order to assassinate him. So, if you look at the show through that lens, of his need to prove to the UK people that he was a strong, the show makes all kinds of sense in retrospect. But it means all kinds of craziness for season 2 if Trowbridge doesn’t start the show in prison, and the show carries forward from the moment season 1 finished.
Is Netflix’s The Diplomat Getting a Second Season?
The Diplomat premiered two weeks ago on April 20th, and it debuted at the number one slot right out of the gate. And in just the first weekend alone, it had 57.48 million hours viewed. (Roughly a two-hour show, what is that, 28 million views plus or minus? That’s legit.) Netflix’s Vice President of Drama Series released a statement saying that: “Fans around the world are loving every minute of The Diplomat’s gripping and propulsive drama, and embracing Keri Russell’s powerful performance as Kate Wyler. After that jaw-dropping cliffhanger, we can’t wait for them to see what the amazing visionary team of Debora Cahn, Janice Williams and Keri Russell have in store for Season 2.”
And Russell has stated that she is “thrilled to be headed back for another round of this smart screwball show. Dare I say it’s fun? Thank you Netflix for giving us another shot.” So, yay! I mean, we’d have to storm the Netflix offices if they gave us a cliffhanger like that and didn’t let the show continue, right?
Want other shows like The Diplomat?? Check out Miss Sloane, maybe Yellowstone, Nuevo Orden, The Ides of March, Bridge of Spies, West Wing,
Edited by: CY