Thursday, April 20, 2023

REVIEW: 'The Diplomat' - Kate and Dennison Partner to Achieve French Support for a Crucial Mission in 'The James Bond Clause'

Netflix's The Diplomat - Episode 1.08 "The James Bond Clause"

In London, Hal's actions cause friction as Kate heads to Paris with Dennison to get a handle on the Lenkov situation, which soon takes a shocking turn.

"The James Bond Clause" was written by Debora Cahn and directed by Alex Graves

The diplomatic corps aims to ensure calm, rational minds prevail even in the face of bumbling political leadership. That's the overall sense this season delivered. It's the job of the ambassador to tend to these relationships between countries. It's not a priority for those who lead their respective governments. However, it's vital to encourage that cooperation. Kate didn't know what to expect when she landed in London. She has served in the foreign service for decades. People have bold ideas for where her career can go next. She is all about getting the job done. She isn't focused on the political ramifications or appeasing narcissistic egos wrapped up in nationalistic pride. She carries her own struggles. Stuart seemingly only has months to get her ready for the national stage back home. Kate doesn't have time to think about the vice presidential offer. She was let in on that conversation early enough for her to process it. It's a very noncommittal idea overall. It's the same thought process she extends to her marriage. She sees the appeal. She endures the hardships. Nevertheless, she remains committed to the job. That's what service means to her. She has the background to make sense of this delicate and destructive international crisis. The United Kingdom has been attacked. Over forty British sailors were killed. The blame shifted throughout the season. Iran was the likely culprit. They responded to messages in the hopes of proclaiming their innocence despite their overall hostilities to the nations dictating the world order. Blame was then placed on Russia. It was the latest extension of their impulse for war after invading Ukraine. Eidra and her sources could never get confirmation on who made the order. Then, the conversation was directed towards an independent mercenary group aligned with Russia. Kate worked tirelessly to find the right response that was in the best interests of all the countries involved. The truth remains elusive. Intelligence agencies try their best to get confirmation before moving ahead with any actions. Some individuals are happy to have their fingers on the trigger at all times. Kate recognizes the importance of getting this right. Even then, she is thrown by the final revelation from the French Interior Secretary. That moment was meant to be a shining example of Kate stepping into the role of who she is meant to be. However, the focus of the show follows the gritty nature of diplomacy. That's what ultimately matters. And so, she suggests that Prime Minister Trowbridge wants the mercenary leader dead because he was the one who orchestrated this scheme. It's a damning cliffhanger. One that isn't totally rewarding as the conclusion for this main mystery. The show wanted to focus intensely on that conspiracy. However, it was always much better when detailing the interpersonal relationships of these characters. That made it likely that the blame hit much closer to home. It's just not clear if the show can handle the repercussions of this massive accusation.

Kate is hard on herself for making the same mistake over and over again. She truly believes anything can be solved so long as people keep talking. That's the skillset required for diplomacy to work. She translates it to her marriage as well. That's a completely different context. One where Dennison sees Kate as a genuinely decent person. She gave Hal every opportunity to prove himself. He had to step into a new role with dignity and grace. He struggled because he was required to live in the shadow of someone else for the first time. He's typically the one making the bold moves. That's not required here. Even when he can be helpful, Kate has to invite him to do so first. She needs to ask for it. That's the balance that needed to be struck. It worked for a few brief days. When that happened, Kate no longer wanted Hal to leave. He was absolutely insufferable for a long time. He was condescending and assertive about Kate always falling in love with his charm. These two are good together until they're not. At that point, they make declarations of divorce. They remain comforted by each other's presence. That's because it's a known quantity. It's familiar. Kate has the potential for something bold and new with Dennison. She always makes a point of communicating with him through her professional capacity. She carries a great deal of power in this relationship even though the ambassador typically doesn't meddle in British politics. The world has changed. That is the underlying concept here. These professionals must be trusted. The President carries a lot of respect and power on the world stage. However, he has so many things to deal with that he can't manage the details of every situation that evolves out of the world. He must have a trusted staff to communicate things on his behalf and ensure the outcome the United States wants. He sets the policy directives. He asks others to carry them out. Kate does her best. She has to be humble at times. She also knows when to push back. She brings that vibrancy to the proceedings. Everything is ultimately a careful negotiation. These alliances are always teetering on the edge of what's possible. It's hard to forgive and forget the mistakes of the past. They inform everything. They can't be too distracted by the future either. That only clouds the judgment of the present. Kate seeks an explanation for Trowbridge's behavior. Margaret Roylin lays out the necessity of a big win to garner political support in Scotland. However, he apparently has his eye on something much larger. The peace that has ruled the world for decades is no more. Everything changed because of the events in Ukraine and Afghanistan. The United States speaks with authority. They remain trusted partners. That may no longer be good enough. The parallel is seen within the Wyler marriage. They don't trust each other. Kate reacts accordingly to his behavior while he derides her for always assuming the worst. That's a distraction as well even though they have the expertise to make a difference in this crucial posting. The work of diplomacy never stops. Instead, the show simply concludes with a big explosion. That provokes intrigue even though life hardly provides something as neat and concise as that in this line of work.